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Pokémon Go is everywhere — is there a real estate angle?

07/11/2016

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Real estate listing descriptions can be a fascinating reflection of regional character and culture. Idaho loves its soaker tubs, while Alaskans can’t get enough Southern exposure.

The latest trend taps into a quirky cultural phenomenon that has resurfaced since its beginnings in the late ’90s and early 2000s — Pokémon.

Pokémon is a Japanese anime cartoon that debuted in 1997, and took us into the magical world of Ash Ketchum, a young boy who wanted to be the greatest Pokémon trainer of them all.

From there, the brand expanded into apparel, card and video games, books and even the silver screen.

The Pokémon craze fizzled a bit when millennials started to grow up and move on to other obsessions — such as Facebook, selfies and twerking.

But, over the past week, Pokémon resurfaced with a new game, Pokémon Go, and claimed the hearts of millennials and others alike, who were in need of some nostalgia after a hard week.

Pokémon Go, available on Android and iOS, brings the world of Pokémon to life with augmented reality and challenges players to travel around their neighborhoods and cities to catch Pokémon and battle other trainers at Pokémon gyms — there are more than five in my Oklahoma City neighborhood alone, and Pokémon Go surpassed Whatsapp this week in average number of engaged minutes per day.

Pokémon GO Daily Usage Time vs Social Media Apps | Graphiq

And just like any other trend — Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook Live — Pokémon Go has found its way into real estate.

Two days ago, Pokémon Go tweeted a realistic-looking home listing that included the text: “Conveniently located between 2 Pokémon Gyms and has 8 Pokéstops within walking distance.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 9.07.24 AM

A listing in British Columbia, Canada.

For nerds the world over, this hot listing feature might be just what they’re looking for right now.

The game has actually found its way into a Craigslist ad. This apartment is located between two Pokémon gyms and has eight PokéStops within walking distance. Who could pass that up?

A real Craiglist ad posted 2 days ago.

A real Craigslist ad posted 2 days ago.

Moerover, a viral Zillow “listing” — which appears to be a meme — boasts two, yes two, Pokémon Go gyms and seven PokéStops that would be heaven for any aspiring trainer who is looking to “catch em all” in their neighborhood.

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The members of Lab Coat Agents (LCA) quickly caught onto the craze and discussed how the game is now being used to sell homes.

“This game is sweeping the nation so fast that agents are referencing it in the description,” says LCA co-founder Nick Baldwin. “It’s amazing how pop culture can be [used] to sell homes.”

Some agents on the thread were still trying to figure out what Pokémon is, while others had already caught on and started using it in Facebook ads for open houses.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.01.43 AM

Mandy Panozzo-Clay says she used Pokémon Go as a way to attract potential buyers at an open house in a young, hip area of her town.

“It was super basic. It was in our town’s ‘hip’ page with a link and photo of the house I was having an open house at and it said ‘looking for Pokémon? We have plenty here at…,’” says Panozzo-Clay.

“Got a lot of response and some clicks to my website. I will do some more for my open houses next week.”

On the flip side, the app poses a few real-estate related risks, as shown by the man living with his wife in a converted church in Massachusetts.

Turns out, Pokémon Go has designated many churches as “gyms” — so the couple had an onslaught of gamers flocking to their property. Potential buyers who’d rather not deal with the commotion could be deterred by the game’s neighborhood impact.

Inman Ambassador Stacie Perrault Staub made a post on her individual page, predicting that real estate agents will soon be capitalizing on this game with seminars.

“Place your bets, please,” Staub wrote. “How long until someone starts trying to sell real estate agents a downloadable guide or webinar called ‘How to Sell More Homes Using Pokémon Go?’”

Staub also offered some insight on whether this trend prove its longevity in real estate or die off as quickly as it started.

“I think Pokémon Go has the potential to spark innovation along the same framework as the game, by targeting real estate consumers as a way to spur interaction, facilitate live real estate events like open houses and neighborhood tours, etc.,” Staub told Inman.

“Do I think Realtors should start trying to buy ads on Pokémon Go? No. But might it start conversations with app creators in our space? I’d bet on yes.”

Whatever the future may bring, catch all the buyers you can before Pokémon Go goes away.

Email Marian McPherson.

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