Netflix users might know Pete Lorimer as the star of “Stay Here,” where he helps renters transform their spaces into vacation getaways. But he says it was his experience working in the music industry that gave him the skills to thrive in the real estate business. His overriding philosophy? Put people first.
In the age of social media, personal branding is all but required in many professions, including real estate. Lorimer learned this skill working for record companies, way before the age of Facebook or Instagram, which gave him a jump.
“Knowing who I was as a product and how I could sell myself when I was in a record company meeting or at a dinner or a this or a that was something that was really kind of branded (pardon the pun) into my mind from being a young teenager. Because I was professionally in music from the time I was 17 or 18,” he says.
A bold move
Lorimer’s real estate career kicked off as music streaming began to replace CDs at the turn of the century. Sensing the industry was about to undergo a massive shift, Lorimer switched gears and started working in real estate. When social media began picking up steam in the middle of the decade, Lorimer seized what he saw as a unique, new marketing strategy.
Though his manager at the time argued social media was a bit of a fad and not worth pursuing, Lorimer pivoted away from traditional real estate strategies like cold-calling and threw himself into social media marketing. “There was no rule book. There was no one to show me how to do it. There were no footsteps to follow in and that is just how I like it.”
Lorimer took a creative, authentic approach to social media marketing, posting in his own voice, creating a human and approachable brand identity. “I set a task of being natural and talking about creative stuff and talking about real estate,” he says, which is why his creative community in LA enjoyed working with him, because he was a “fellow creative.”
These days, Lorimer’s brand is well-established, thanks in no small part to his pioneering social media. The personal approach he took to his social media presence extends to how he runs his business as a landlord as well.
He always recommends treating tenants like extended family. “When you have a great tenant, treat them like gold.”
This means he doesn’t skimp on necessary repairs, he waits three years to raise the rent, and he even gives his tenants his personal phone number as well as that of the property manager. He encourages tenants to text them both with any issues and if their problem goes unaddressed for too long he will respond to them personally. This kind of close, communicative relationship between landlord and tenant is unusual, but Lorimer says in his experience people who have adopted this philosophy tend to be more successful.
There are those who try to squeeze every dime out of every situation, of course, but Lorimer points out this can actually backfire. If you raise rents significantly on tenants every year, for example, people are likely to become frustrated and move. Then, the landlord is responsible for fixing up the apartment to ready for new renters, which is likely to cost at least $1,000. Furthermore, you might be left with an unoccupied unit for a month or so, meaning you’ve lost valuable rent money.
“There’s nothing more personal than somebody’s accommodation whether it be for the night, for the week, or for a year or for life. Yet it has been handled in a very kind of impersonal way for such a long time that if someone is very personal and does express their belief structures and does express who they are and what they’re about it makes you stand out.”
Creating an attractive profile
Lorimer also takes a human-forward approach when it comes to marketing his properties. He compares the industry now to “real estate Tinder,” where people swipe on potential properties until finding one that catches their eye, not unlike trying to find a date in the 21st century. So, it’s important, he says, to make sure your real estate profile is as attractive as possible.
He spares no expense, for example, when it comes to photographing his properties, describing one instance when he actually hired a photographer from Architectural Digest to take the pictures. This property is always scooped up right away.
Once the photos capture a potential renter’s attention, the listing must also have a narrative to capture their imagination. Here is what your life could look like if you lived here.
When thinking about how to best attract and keep tenants, Lorimer says the solution is simple. “The answer is always the person.”