Madison Sutton has had a meteoric rise in real estate.
A bit over four years ago, the New York agent visited the city for Blockchain Week, as she had a technology background.
A career in real estate wasn’t on the horizon.
Now she’s an internationally recognised agent and social media expert with thousands of followers worldwide, and she’s not long landed herself a job with one of the most recognisable real estate brands on the planet – SERHANT.
“Real estate was something people always told me I’d be good at, but I never considered myself a salesy person because I very much visualised the suit and red tie,” she explains.
That two-week trip to New York turned into eight months and finally a permanent move, and when her then partner encouraged Madison to take the leap, she became an agent.
“I kind of did it reluctantly initially, but I ended up really enjoying it,” she explains.
The first few months were tough, and, as Madison says, while many other professions have a corresponding university education available, there’s nothing like that for real estate.
An instigator for change
At a small firm to begin with, Madison says she struggled to get traction, didn’t feel as though she was getting the best guidance, and then the global COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Madison used the pandemic as an instigator for change, taking to the social media platform TikTok to promote the properties she had for lease and sale.
“I don’t know if I recognised it 100 per cent in the moment, but it allowed me to be creative in ways that levelled the playing field between the older generation and the newer generation (of agents),” she says.
“From there, it all started to fall into place.”
While doing social media walk-throughs may seem simple to some agents, in New York at that time, video wasn’t the done thing.
“It was actually frowned upon to do videos in our industry because you wanted to get the client in person, that was the goal,” Madison recalls.
“But it really took off and people were really receptive to it.”
Content that connects
Madison’s content is a mixture of listings, market updates, answering commonly asked real estate questions, tips about New York and adjacent content such as fashion.
During the pandemic, Madison says she would have tenants rent a property based on her TikTok videos, without seeing it first.
“I’ve had everything from it not only being a lead gen source, but having about 40 to 50 per cent of my deals at the time being virtually fully done on people just seeing a TikTok, knowing how fast these units go and saying they would rent it based off that TikTok and based off the reputation that I’d gathered for being a trustworthy source in the industry,” she says.
Madison was then headhunted by Brown Harris Stevens to help them develop a TikTok workshop exclusively for their agents to help them open a new and underutilised pipeline for business.
Then, in 2022, she met a team from SERHANT. at a real estate gala, and they suggested she meet with founder Ryan Serhant.
“I was a bit reluctant at first because I was so new to BHS, but I heard my father’s voice in the back of my head saying, ‘Always take a meeting’,” Madison recalls.
“So I went and I met with Ryan and some of the other people and just immediately fell in love with it.
“It really was, and still is, the best fit for me in terms of content production and just the overall energy.
“It’s quite magnetic.”
Madison says she was also attracted to the collaborative nature of the agency, where agents work together on listings, generating publicity and events.
She says Ryan is also exactly as he appears on TV in shows such as Million Dollar Listing New York.
“I’ve never met someone with more energy… and he’s constantly like that,” Madison notes.
“It’s really encouraging because I feel like we’re very similar in that sense.
“There’s very minimal ego, which is surprising for someone who is known so worldwide at this point.
“He’s just this magnetic person to be around. You want to be in the office and the office is jam-packed at any point in time.”
Madison says she also loves that SERHANT. has its own 30-person, in-house creative team and together they’ve been able to extend the direction of her social media content into not just showing a listing but telling a story within that.
Educate or entertain?
A recent example is telling the story of a luxury apartment through the eyes of a real estate agent that wants the property for herself.
The video describes the apartment’s features and includes humorous quips from the agent on why a buyer may not like that particular feature, hoping that it will mean the agent gets to keep the apartment.
Madison says social media content and short-form videos don’t need to be difficult, but it does need to be consistent.
“When I talk to agents, I always say, ‘If you’re expecting this one singular video to sell an apartment, there’s a good chance it won’t’,” she says.
“There are other things you may do or need to do so you’re creating constant brand awareness and creating a relationship through what we like to call ‘micro-interactions’.
“You should have six to eight hours of interaction with someone before they commit to a big sale… but what a lot of people don’t realise is that these micro-interactions contribute to the larger relationship and the branding.
Madison says one simple idea for short-form video is to provide a market update. She says when creating content, agents generally go down either one of two routes – entertainment or education.
“My preferred route is more of an educational route and then trying to integrate entertainment after that,” she explains.
“I feel like my clients come to me because they know I’m a source for information and not a source for entertainment.”
A trip Down Under
Come the end of May, Madison says she’ll be on the AREC stage in Australia to share her social media, content and branding knowledge.
Despite her expertise, she’s the first to admit social media can be scary for some agents.
She says recognising that fear is important, and to tackle it, she suggests understanding your ‘why’ is key.
“If your goal is to be like Ryan Serhant and get millions of views… it’s going to be disappointing, and you’ll do it for a week and then it will fall away,” Madison says.
“You have to think of your ‘why’. Maybe it’s to pay the mortgage or to pay for your kid to go to college or to build generational wealth, which is one of my whys.
“You have to focus on why you’re doing these videos and the things you can control versus vanity metrics.”
Madison says it’s important to her that her AREC presentation provides actionable takeaways agents can use and put into practice in their businesses.
“I think a huge thing is looking at what you can control,” she says.
“You may not be able to control the likes, the comments or the views, but you can control how often you post and how much work you’re putting into it.”