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This is the first U.S. residential brokerage to open a corporate WeChat account

Sarah Paynter

To attract Chinese investors to real estate in America, Halstead is using Chinese social media.

The New York City-based brokerage said it is the first major residential brokerage in the U.S. to create a verified corporate WeChat account to advertise U.S. properties. WeChat is China’s dominant social media platform, with over 1 billion active users.

“We concentrate so much time on Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. But how much is put towards an enormous growing economy in China and individuals coming over from China… which is 15% of the global population?” said Matthew Leone, chief brand and marketing officer of Halstead.

New York City-based brokerage Halstead is launching a verified corporate WeChat account. Photo credit: Halstead.
New York City-based brokerage Halstead is launching a verified corporate WeChat account. Photo credit: Halstead.

The WeChat account, officially launching December 18, is part of an intentional marketing effort to reach Chinese-speaking investors in the U.S. and abroad. Chinese nationals represent a quarter of all foreign dollar investments in U.S. real estate, surpassing Canada in 2014 as the largest foreign investor, according to National Association of Realtors data.

“Why China? You have an economy in China that is steadily growing. It is the second largest economy in the world... A lot of buyers and a lot of money are coming out of China,” said Leone.

‘Most important tool of my career’

Halstead’s WeChat presence began two years ago when the company found that paid influencers on the app produced promising leads. The company’s expansion began earlier this year, as Halstead quietly built content specifically for WeChat and obtained account verification for their December 18 launch. Currently, Halstead has over 100,000 follows on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages and hopes to tap into a new segment with this platform.

Chinese-speaking agents already use their own WeChat accounts to market properties, but having a verified corporate account will boost their brand and their reach, said Halstead broker Vicki Zhi Saali, one of more than 20 Halstead brokers that urged Halstead to create a corporate account. Agents use the platform to communicate with clients, send documents, and even receive offers from investors, she said.

“WeChat is the most important tool of my career,” she said, “It makes clients feel like they trust me more, so it is actually extremely important.”

Rising tensions between the U.S. and China had reportedly prompted China to restrict investments outside of the country. But the strain eased last week when the U.S. and China announced a “phase one” trade deal, which rolled back some tariffs on goods between the two economic giants.

“The trade deal will always cause an uptick in any market,” said Leone.

While Halstead is the first residential brokerage in the U.S. to launch a verified corporate account advertising U.S. investment properties, some U.S.-based commercial brokerages, like JLL, and agents from other U.S.-based residential brokerages, like the Corcoran Group, have accounts. Sotheby’s International Realty has a verified WeChat account, but it only advertises properties in China and Hong Kong.

“I think this is a process that should be considered by every real estate firm in the cities that are popular for Chinese investors and individuals coming over looking to invest… We are very confident that this is going to generate leads,” said Leone.

Krystal Hu contributed reporting to this article.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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