Three years ago, Compass broker Amit Bhuta had an idea. Why not hire a film crew, have them follow him and his team of three (including Jade Kalbacher and William Lengyel) around, and post it on YouTube? Why not just put it out there and see what happens?
While Bhuta wanted to share information about local real estate, neighborhoods, and restaurants on the vlogs, what he really wanted to do was to create a reality show of sorts. “I wanted to do things like our own version of ‘Hot Ones,’ where we answer questions while eating spicy wings, or have Jade tell us about her wildest, funniest dates.”
In short, Bhuta wanted people to connect with him and his team. “The goal was to have people look at us and think, ‘wow, it would be really cool to hang out with those guys on Saturday night and Sunday if we’re not busy, let’s go look for our $16 million home.’”
Three years later, Bhuta, who just turned 50 this year, has become something of a local celebrity. “Not long ago, I went to a fancy restaurant in South Beach, and the waiter recognized me and called me by name,” he said.
While it wasn’t fame per se that Bhuta was seeking initially, it’s a fun byproduct of the powerful branding he has created for himself and his team. “There are a million different ways to make money in real estate,” he said. “For me, what’s important is to enjoy what I’m doing. The fact that I can do that while eliminating the need to chase leads is amazing. And the fact that people feel like they connect to me is even better.”
Bhuta and his team spend about 20 hours a week filming, but he estimates they would have spent about that much time seeking out new clients anyway. “People come to us now – from all over the world,” he said.
While reality shows about real estate agents are nothing new, Bhuta and his team don’t have Bravo backing him. Not that he’s interested in doing something like Million Dollar Listing anyway. “We don’t want to be unapproachable,” he said. “We want to be ourselves.” And that means bringing the film crew along, whether they’re working on a renovation project for Compass Conceirge or having lunch in Miami. “We do our best to keep it real,” he said. “We’re just normal people who want to have fun and care deeply about our customers.”
In addition to the videos, which Bhuta also uses for social media posts, especially Instagram stories, Bhuta has a popular podcast, amitspodcast.com. “I knew if I did a podcast on something like market stats, no one would care,” he said. “So I talk about things like how I met my wife when I was 45 years old. People relate to that stuff.” The most listened to podcast, he said, was the one he did on his mother’s birthday. “I was looking for a gift for her, and I thought it would be pretty powerful to tell the world how much she means to me.”
In fact, Bhuta’s advice to agents afraid to test the waters with digital marketing, is simple. “Just be yourself and don’t worry about it,” he said. “I get calls from other agents every week. I tell them this: ‘no matter what you do – video, podcast, blog – when you start doing it you’re going to suck at it, but you will get better a lot quicker than you think.’
The goal is to attract people to you, Bhuta adds. “If you don’t have a personal brand that’s strong enough, you’re just going to be chasing leads.”