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On a warm night last September, a group of real estate investors sipped wine and beer and sat by fires lit on a Santa Monica beach.
What might sound like a standard night in southern California was unique: Many of these people had never met. Not in person, at least.
— Re-convene (@REconveneLA) September 23, 2022
They’d come together to attend Re-convene, a real estate conference built entirely for real estate investors who met through Twitter, the social media platform now known as X.
Re-convene is the brainchild of Moses Kagan, and it’s just one of the ways X has become an unexpectedly integral part of his daily life.
Whereas he used to engage an audience by writing his personal blog, in late 2019 Kagan began sharing his thoughts on Twitter, the word-based social media platform that had long been ignored by the real estate community.
“I wake up at 5:15, grab my workout clothes, go downstairs, make coffee, and start reading and writing posts before going out to lift weights,” Kagan told Inman. “I usually post something around 5:30.”
Kagan, who is descending on Santa Monica Sept. 27-29 to host the third-annual conference, is viewed as the founding father of a community that calls itself #retwit. In four years of writing posts on the platform, Kagan has built up a following of over 121,000 people.
His daily messages are his way of keeping an ever-expanding audience engaged with his profile, where they find posts about his expertise in real estate investing as an operator who manages over 1,000 units and owns apartment buildings worth over $200 million.
As a talented writer and storyteller with years of experience producing his own blog, keeping an audience engaged comes naturally to Kagan. What’s perhaps surprising is the role X has played in the lives of Kagan and scores of other real estate professionals.
A platform that sat largely neglected by the real estate community for over a decade has seen investors, developers, financiers and Realtors rapidly flock to it over the past three years. While many commonly shared their market insights on Instagram and Facebook, real estate professionals largely avoided Twitter.
That changed rapidly at some point during the pandemic into what some members of the #retwit community called a career-changing force.
“Real estate Twitter people have been able to monetize Twitter for tens of millions of dollars,” said Bobby Fijan, a Philadelphia-based developer and consultant who helps other developers maximize the efficiency of their floorplans.
Real estate operators are sourcing millions of dollars from investors. New businesses are being launched. Partners are finding each other. Events are conceptualized and planned.
In fact, the community grew so quickly and strongly that Kagan — deemed by many to be a vanguard of #retwit — capitalized on its potency with the event he dubbed Re-convene.
“Twitter has totally changed my life,” Kagan said in a written interview.
The origins of #retwit
The #retwit community is composed of a broad group of real estate professionals spanning every aspect of industry practice.
There are architects, ground-up developers, independent landlords, institutional landlords, financiers, real estate agents and brokers. New pros, old pros, hobbyists and, of course, the general public.
There are those looking to acquire real estate and those actively looking to offload it. There are those looking to build new apartments and those who specialize in designing apartments to get the highest rent possible. There are those who have cash to invest and those who need that money.
But the group wasn’t always cohesive, and Twitter’s value wasn’t immediately apparent.
In interviews with several prominent members of the #retwit community, many said they had been on Twitter for upwards of a decade before a community coalesced and the value proposition turned from a cure for boredom to a boon for business.
“I joined for the same reason anyone joins social media: Interesting conversations happening or you want to be involved,” said Marilyn Moedinger, an architect and design professional on the East Coast.
Real estate professionals began putting their expertise in investing, buying or developing out into the open in the form of photos, videos and written posts.
Operators from coast to coast began engaging with each others’ posts, building on ideas, debating practices or applauding each other.
The value of the site transformed and snowballed, with real estate professionals soon seeing an opportunity to both learn and advance their careers, giving them myriad reasons to log onto X every day.
“I’ve consulted internationally,” said Moedinger, whose expertise has attracted tens of thousands of followers, along with a slew of new clients. “That never would have happened without Twitter.”
Moedinger’s following grew from very few to over 20,000 after she started engaging with other big accounts, sharing her expertise as an architect and designer. That tracks with several other members of the #retwit community who said they joined in 2020 or 2021, found conversations that were happening and quickly built a following.
Several noted that real estate can be a fundamentally solitary job. That’s partly the nature of the work but partly strategy: Real estate markets are relatively small, and developers are wary of talking inside baseball with local competition.
“In an individual market there are frankly few real estate developers,” Fijan said. “One of the last things you do as a real estate developer in your market would be to tell anyone else.”
Several knew exactly which account caught their attention and made them want to start sharing their thoughts and expertise on the platform.
“Moses, obviously, is one of the central figures,” Moedinger said.
“It’s Moses, obviously,” Fijan said.
The ‘founding father’ of #retwit
In speaking with several prominent members of the community, a pattern emerged: A real estate professional joined Twitter for personal reasons, often entirely unrelated to work. At some point during the pandemic, as #retwit began growing, they found Kagan and engaged with his posts or mirrored his style.
When asked to speak on the record for this story, Kagan agreed to provide written responses to questions. This is fitting, in a way. Twitter is, after all, a platform where users can curate the information and image they’re portraying to the public.
“I am a celebrity among a tiny group of real estate nerds, which is cool because, of course, I am a gigantic real estate nerd,” Kagan said.
At times, the notoriety from his 122,000 followers comes offline and he’s recognized in public while on vacation or elsewhere.
“I probably get recognized once every few months,” Kagan said. “It was weird at first, but everyone has been cool and I’m happy to talk.”
Kagan came up with the idea for Re-convene after going to a similar event put on by people in the finance community.
“I put up a tweet asking if people would be interested in coming to LA to talk about the deals business,” he said. “I think that tweet got like 300 likes, which was a lot for me back then.
If we organized a RE twit gathering in/near LA in early Summer, 2021, would people come (assuming vaccine, etc.)?
Assume two nights / two days, mix of talks and informal hangs, maybe with some hikes / beach / golf thrown in.
— Moses Kagan (@moseskagan) July 26, 2020
After his wife built a landing page for an event that didn’t yet exist, Kagan collected $100 deposits from about 300 people.
“After that, we had no choice but to move forward with putting on the event,” he said.
The Santa Monica conference quickly attracted some of the biggest celebrities from #retwit. With ticket prices for the three-day conference in the thousands of dollars, the event is both a chance to see and to be seen.
Speakers include other prominent members of #retwit, including personalities like @StripMallGuy, a private account from a real investor specializing in strip malls. (He declined an interview request for this story.) Attendees can choose from two of six breakout sessions where everyone agrees to keep the info they receive anonymous.
“I go to a decent number of real estate conferences, this one is different than every other one that I go to,” Fijan said. “The reason I’m going to go and I can’t imagine not going is because it will be to see people who have genuinely become my friends.”
It’s also a powerful opportunity to source deals, raise money and meet potential new business partners.
It’s been three straight years, and people keep signing up to attend. Some of them do so because of the impact #retwit has had on their careers.
#retwit the career accelerator
A theme emerged in interviews with the #retwit community that showed members were attracted to accounts — some anonymous, some not — that showed clear evidence of on-the-job expertise in a given field.
“When you read what [someone] writes,” Fijan said, “you can tell that [they’ve] actually suffered and experienced. And because of that, I can trust it.”
Twitter has been a catalyst for Sean O’Dowd, a consultant-turned-real estate investor along Chicago’s North Shore.
Having joined “on a lark” in 2019, O’Dowd started talking about his investment strategy: Find single-family homes in the best school district in the area, where families with school kids would presumably make reliable and stable tenants.
“There’s a credibility component. There’s definitely people on here who talk a big game but they don’t actually know what they’re doing or haven’t done it themselves,” O’Dowd said. “After a while, if you see somebody pop up in your timeline enough times and they say enough things, you’re like, ‘I can tell this person has actually purchased property.’”
After attracting over 30,000 followers on Twitter, O’Dowd launched — alongside a partner he met on Twitter — Scholastic Capital, a fund that will buy up to $108 million of single-family rental homes in the Midwest.
“Real estate is what’s always been my passion,” O’Dowd said. “What I didn’t know was that Twitter was going to be the path to fundraise that money. I assumed I was going to have to spend a couple decades building networks and relationships, and, when I was in my 40s or 50s, I’d have a network to scale out the thesis from there.”
There is sufficient inventory on the market for real estate investing
As of 10:44 am, there are 3,067 homes on the market across all of our target zip codes
We need to buy 200-250 over a 10-15 year period
There’s enough inventory out there to support our target volume!
— Sean O’Dowd (@SeanODowd15) August 29, 2023
Tom Brickman created a brand called TheFrugalGay. It’s named after the fact that, well, he’s a frugal, gay investor from Texas who gives advice to other independent landlords and anyone else who wants to save and spend their money wisely.
He joined Twitter in 2021 while gearing up to quit his day job and begin investing full-time.
I quit my job in 2022
These are the 9 things I wish I realized earlier
— Thefrugalgay🏘 (@Thefrugalgay11) September 25, 2023
“Everything picked up when I did leave my job. That’s when I started to get traction,” Brickman said. “They were like, ‘He’s not just talking about rentals; he’s actually leaving his job and his rentals are paying his bills for him.’”
Brickman went from working at movie theaters and The Gap to owning 23 rental units. Over the course of two years, he attracted 66,000 followers on Twitter and parlayed that into a podcast and newsletter. He also coaches and has met investors all over the world, he said.
“I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be when I started doing this two years ago,” Brickman said. “I’m like 100,000 steps ahead.”
Email Taylor Anderson
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