Video: alexander_zakhari, christina.kremidas, markonyc
Jason Lau, a luxury real estate agent, pretends to take a shower. Encased in the spalike white marble shower of a $2.6 million condo’s private bathroom, fully clothed, he holds the stainless steel faucet head and mimics rinsing himself from his cashmere scarf down to his Chanel loafers. Lizza Prigozhina, standing by the toilet in a crop top and blazer, choreographs with an iPhone in her hand. “Now block the camera with your hand,” she said, “like, you can’t see that.” Lau complies. Her Corcoran Group business partner, Marko Arsic (loafers: Prada), nods approvingly from the next room: “We do whatever Lizza says.
Prigozhina is the 23-year-old queen of New York real estate TikTok, a content whisperer for star agents Corcoran, Douglas Elliman and Nest Seekers. In an upmarket market that has been slowing since September, with rumors of a downturn and 2008 in the air, what Prigozhina offers real estate agents is an injection of levity into their discomfort and, ideally, thousands of new followers and potential customers. . Under her guidance, agents are flocking to TikTok, where, for $700+ a week, Prigozhina helps them create viral content, write captions, and even post on their behalf. Brokerages are laying off their agents and exorbitant mortgages are making sellers nervous, but her business is booming: in a good month, she’ll make about $10,000.
Prigozhina’s project this November morning is a one-bedroom condo on the 28th floor of Waterline Square, a development on the westernmost Upper West Side that wants to be the new Hudson Yards. Lau’s shower scene is the culmination of a one-shot, streaming video tour that has become endemic to TikTok real estate — and which, under Prigozhina’s direction, is designed to bring some grandeur to 984 feet from the unit. After a brief rehearsal, Prigozhina meanders steadily around the apartment, iPhone in her right hand and guiding Arsic and Lau with her left. Officers rush behind furniture and doors in their designer suits, then exit excitedly to enthusiastically point out the Gaggenau stove and waterfall island and heated bathroom floors with oversized hand gestures, evoking Oh ! and Ah! At one point, Prigozhina tells Arsic to throw himself lightly on the bed to show his bounce.
Prigozhina found her niche in TikTok real estate in 2021 as the industry began its manic rebound from the pandemic shutdown. Born in Russia, she had arrived in the city in 2020 to attend the New York Film Academy and needed a place, so she contacted Alexander Zakharin, a broker at Avenues Real Estate and a fellow Russian. Prigozhina didn’t end up using his services (she found a free studio on 63rd and West End Avenue on StreetEasy), but she did see Zakharin’s TikTok, on which he had started posting apartment tours then. that no one visited them in person. Prigozhina understood what was missing: him. “Alexander has a great personality,” she told me matter-of-factly, and she convinced him to get in front of the camera. She’d debuted at 14 with lip-syncs on Musical.ly (and even briefly flirted with a stint as an influencer in 2020) and commanded the kind of obsessive fluidity TikTok demands: culture’s demented shorthand. pop, personalized viral trends for niche audiences, a hunch on when to post. (“I’m on it for hours a day,” Prigozhina said, declining to say the exact number.) Since working with Prigozhina, Zakharin’s number of followers has exceeded 700,000; now, in his most frequent style of video, he stands on the steps of the Plaza and interviews unsuspecting tourists about their dream New York apartment. As its influence on TikTok grew, the luxury market peaked, breaking records in 2021 and the first half of 2022 with record revenue of $16 billion – before falling 18% this autumn. The central principle of Prigozhina applies even more in a downturn: if you can’t sell a condo, you have to sell yourself.
After three takes in the condo, we make our way to the development’s empty floor and living room, stopping for Prigozhina to film a few more TikToks on the way out (there’s an even bigger level of amenities underground, just as quiet, with a climbing wall, tennis court, recording studio, hydroponic vegetable growing facility and bowling alley). The development claims to be 95% sold, although there are nearly two dozen rentals available starting at $5,873 per month. Lau acknowledges the easing state of the market but remains optimistic: “There are a lot of spot buyers,” he says. “But I don’t think it will be a huge downfall.” To date, with over a month and a half on the market, the upstairs condo is still not rented.
Next, Prigozhina and I head up Riverside Boulevard for a meeting with the Kim team members of Nest Seekers International. She loads her phone into her neon green Amazon purse that reads “Warning: Fashion show in progress.” “It’s our brains,” said one of the agents. For this shoot, the goal is to create a dance to the viral YouTube song “I’m Petty,” which requires a well-timed low-five in the back with the agents in a kind of conga line and coaching from Prigozhina on how to make everything look natural. “Everyone is nervous,” one of the agents told me as his colleague took new Instagram portraits to show off his new tips with blonde highlights. “It was a bit slow.” Young agents, like those on Team Kim, are especially keen to do anything that can build their personal profile in a commission-based industry full of zigs and zags. One of them still works night shifts at JFK as a Delta aircraft technician.
For Prigozhina’s last job of the day, we walk further into the city center to meet Zakharin; Christina Kremidas, an agent for Elliman who also uses Prigozhina’s content services; and Kathy Murray, another Elliman broker, on one of Murray’s lists. In a $6.2 million four-bedroom condo at 344 West 72nd Street in a newly converted pre-war building, furnishings and staging decor look almost exactly like what we left in Waterline Square : giant, vaguely modern scribble art; oversized Phaidon art books topped with an oversized marble chain. There are starched white shirts hanging in the closet in the master bedroom and handmade wooden children’s toys in the bedroom with the bunk beds. Next to two wine glasses and a bottle of pinot noir is the New York State housing and anti-discrimination notice. Prigozhina will film three tours, one featuring each agent, which they can all use on their respective social media feeds.
Murray is the more seasoned agent, and while Prigozhina plans to coordinate filming, Murray tells me that, yes, sales have cooled since the frenzy of the past 19 months, when she sold a 13-room apartment in an invisible family (“They needed more space to work from home,” she says), but the market is just stabilizing after the latest frenzy. “It’s the same market as it was in 2018” do not 2008, she assures Zakharin when asked her opinion on whether things are going the way they did during the recession. “Last time, none of the banks lent.”
Murray is newer to TikTok as a sales strategy — “I’m not one to be on camera often,” she tells me — but Kremidas and Zakharin are decidedly optimistic TikTok hustlers. “People always say, ‘Are your luxury shoppers really on TikTok?’ Of course they are!” Kremidas said, adjusting his Hermes belt. Kremidas said even the most elite agents started asking him for advice. Maybe they’re interested in its potential, or maybe they’re growing increasingly desperate. Prigozhina is ready to ride the wave up or down. “Some are like, ‘I can’t spend money on this.’ But others say, ‘I’d do anything to get out,’” she told me earlier as we walked from apartment to apartment on West End Avenue.
I hide in the guest bathroom (one of four and a half) while Prigozhina films each video tour meandering through the bedrooms. “Alex, now! “Christina, go ahead! Prigozhina calls out with authority as the officers’ heels click on the shiny wooden floor. Prigozhina breathes a sigh of relief after the filming is over, as if she had run a marathon. Sixty-six days later, the condo was still on the market. But the TikTok had 145,000 views.