How a broker turned his Instagram into a $200 million real-estate firm – Business Insider

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Rob Kallick was fascinated by the midcentury homes he saw in the Chicago suburbs where he grew up — including the glassy cube where Cameron from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” lived.
It wasn’t until he moved to Los Angeles in 2008, though, that his passion for these houses — built between the 1940s and 1960s as part of the midcentury-modern design movement that prioritized sleek lines and futuristic shapes — grew beyond the level of a hobbyist.  
“It opened my eyes to a whole new world of architecture,” Kallick, now 44, told Insider. 
Feeling inspired, Kallick decided to leave his job in marketing and go into real estate. As he studied for his license exam in 2009, Kallick launched a blog and an Instagram account called “Take Sunset” to both showcase his love for midcentury design and build a name for himself online.
The Instagram account features dreamy photos of his own listings, other agents’ listings, and historic homes around Los Angeles, resulting in a grid of the city’s “Mad Men”-esque interiors and exteriors. Take Sunset has become a real-time digital museum of serene views, sunken living rooms, and exposed ceiling beams. (He also posts images of houses he simply admires, even if they don’t technically qualify as midcentury.)
More than a decade later, the popularity of the account — which now has 99,400 followers — has helped grow his solo operation into an eight-person firm that closed $200 million sales last year. His passion for midcentury design has become a calling card, scoring him early deals and helping him connect with clients — even those who don’t share his fondness for midcentury architecture. 
“People just hope that their realtor has good taste,” Kallick said, “and can weed through the crap.”
At first, Kallick created content based on his personal curiosities. He snapped pictures of homes he saw while driving around LA, then researched their history. He studied public records and perused building permits to identify architects, designers, and builders.
He attended tours of historic homes hosted by the MAK Center for Architecture. He interviewed designers and architects in LA who shared his interests, which helped him grow his professional network. 
In 2010, one of Kallick’s very first clients was a fan of his blog who reached out about her move from Milwaukee to LA with her husband. The couple still live in the house Kallick helped them purchase. 
Kallick believes his online presence helped him stand out from other agents who relied solely what he called “traditional methods,” like cold-calling and door knocking. 
Instead, Kallick said, he could connect with potential buyers more intimately. Instead of a website with some “big headshots,” he could communicate a “deeper interest” in real estate and come across as “someone you’d like to talk to.” 
He said the Instagram account still generates multiple leads — sometimes even from celebrities.
In 2017, he hired additional agents and founded the Take Sunset team, which completed $75 million in sales during its first year. In 2021 and 2022, the team, currently with Compass, closed $200 million in deals. 
Kallick said his knowledge of midcentury homes, with their wide-open floor plans and emphasis on natural light, can help steer clients towards the design style that suits them best.
Prospective buyers might reach out thinking they only want to see midcentury homes. In reality, though, their sometimes-unorthodox layouts don’t actually work for a family’s day-to-day.
“The longer you do this,” he said, “you understand how people live.”
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