Every real estate professional would love to have a listing go viral. The more eyes you can get on a property, the better, right?
That’s just what happened with a recent TikTok about a listing in Beacon, New York. But when the video went viral, it was for all the wrong reasons.
The now-infamous TikTok asks viewers to guess the new price of a renovated home. In it, the TikToker states, “This video goes out to all the greedy, delusional house flippers,” quickly catching the attention of viewers and sparking a flood of anger online. However, there’s a lot more to this story than meets the eye.
Behind the scenes, a talented team at Factioned had been pouring their hearts into this property for three years. Their goal? To completely transform a 1940s Cape Cod during a time of uncertainty for all.
Innovation Amidst the Pandemic
Jared Lairmore and Sara Dobbs (the life and business partner duo at Factioned) made their move from Brooklyn to Beacon in the fall of 2019. They quickly fell in love with the community, and were eager to integrate both their business and personal lives into the Hudson River Valley region of New York.
But at the onset of the pandemic a few months later, essentially all Factioned projects came to a grinding halt. With a small team of employees to support, they made a commitment early on to keep all staff on board—something they saw through to the end.
That’s when they found the property at 112 Washington.
112 Washington exterior. Credit: Factioned Photo
At the time, it seemed like a win-win-win. They would be able to keep all their employees, integrate Factioned with the greater Hudson River Valley community, and build a network of local subcontractors. Like many small businesses, they innovated in order to stay afloat during the pandemic.
They decided to move forward and purchase the property in July 2020 for $260,000 and used the entire process as a design exercise to keep everyone from the team involved. Of course, this wasn’t your typical “flip” seen on reality TV; it was an ambitious endeavor to completely transform a Cape Cod home.
Setting the Record Straight: This is Not a Flip
We’ve all seen tell-tale signs of a mediocre flip. Properties that were purchased in a state of total disrepair, painted and cleaned up to look good for photos, and put back on the market in a turnaround time that seems (and usually is) too good to be true.
112 Washington is not one of those properties.
After buying the property in July 2020, the Factioned team worked on the design for a full year before going to permitting and approvals. In November 2021, demolition began, and the property was under construction from winter 2021 until summer 2023.
Not exactly what most people were thinking when they watched that viral TikTok.
Lindsay Rothman, listing agent for the property, said it best:
It’s not a flip—it’s a reinvention.
During the three-year design and construction process, Factioned did everything from space planning to expanding the basement into an occupiable space to incorporating water mitigation strategies around the entire property to elevating every interior and exterior detail.
Progress of the build. Credit: Factioned Photo
The result is “how the Cape Cod can be thought of for modern living,” said Jared Lairmore, Design Director at Factioned, in a call with BAM. A quick look at some of the “before and afters” shows that vision come to life.
Rothman noted that the years-long journey was more than a renovation; it was a passion project for the team. “And they don’t cut corners,” she stated. “They are the most thoughtful designers/builders you’ve ever seen.”
The team also worked to become part of the community throughout the process. This included everything from asking for referrals for local contractors to hosting an open house for neighbors near the end of renovations. TikTok aside, the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive.
Interior photos of 112 Washington. Credit: Factioned Photo
Another factor not taken into account online is the exponential price growth that the housing market has seen since 2020. So while the price contrast seems extreme (and creates an attention-grabbing hook on social media), the video doesn’t go into all the intricacies of a three-year design project, coupled with a booming housing market.
“It’s a luxury product, and it’s priced as a luxury product,” Rothman explained. “But it’s not the only one in the area.” A quick scroll on Zillow shows numerous properties at million-dollar price points in Beacon.
But of course, those properties weren’t the focus of that viral TikTok.
Navigating the Fallout of a Viral TikTok
The renovation of 112 Washington isn’t the first to be highlighted or torn apart on social media. Because affordable housing issues are prevalent and resonate with so many people, this one soon had millions of views.
It didn’t take long for Rothman and Factioned to realize the uptick in property website and social media views were stemming directly from the TikTok post. Soon after, the negative backlash started rolling in.
The team received everything from offhand comments to a negative Google review for Rothman (which was later deleted by Google) to physically threatening emails. For Lairmore and Dobbs, who have two children and live within the community, this was obviously concerning.
But amid the sea of negativity, there is a deeper issue to address.
It’s very understandable, the larger conversation about the housing crisis and affordable homes. It’s a complex conversation that is much bigger than our design firm.
A 63-second video can’t possibly tell the entire story. Not of Factioned’s design and renovation process, and certainly not of the current issues in real estate.
Anyone who’s ever gone down the social media rabbit hole knows there’s a lot of anger and misinformation online. And when it comes to the housing industry—everyone wants to point a finger as to who is at fault for the lack of affordable inventory.
Politicians. House flippers. Renovators. Investors. Wall Street. Boomers. Builders. Agents.
And yes, there are some in every category above that contribute to the issues at large. But industry professionals know this has been a problem that began long before 2020.
We’re in an environment in which the market is not temporarily or momentarily undersupplied. We are structurally underbuilt.
A Shift in Marketing and Safety Measures
To deal with the backlash, the Factioned team has once again turned to transparency—inviting Insider (which published this piece about the TikTok video) and other publications to hear the full story, visit the property, and understand everything that went into the build. So far, none have taken them up on the invitation.
In addition, Rothman was quick to change the marketing strategy to ensure safety for all. To start, there will not be an open house—with all the negativity online, it’s too risky. For all private showings, Rothman requests proof of funds and meets the potential buyers and the buyer’s agent at the property.
As far as dealing with all the negativity and anger, Rothman is staying focused on the work at hand.
Our job is always to get our clients the most money for their homes. And as experts in the field, we price our listings based on the comps that we see in the area. So you try not to take it too much to heart.
Embracing Transparency and Encouraging Dialogue
Along with conversations about affordable housing, the backlash from the video also opens discussion on a topic that the Factioned team is passionate about: transparency surrounding renovation and construction in real estate.
Big picture, we philosophically have a concern about some of the opacity that transpires in the residential real estate market. A differentiation between a ‘renovation’ of one property and another—you look at 25 pictures and everything’s sealed behind the walls. You’re not exactly sure what’s transpired. And if you can’t talk to the owner, or the developer, or the design team, you’re just sort of led to believe that what they’re saying is on the up-and-up.
Lairmore went on to say that his team welcomes conversation, and even scrutiny, surrounding 112 Washington. That’s how confident they are in the design and build of the property. But beyond that, they want to make sure people know how important it is to discern between projects. After all, not every million dollar project is the same. Not every $500,000 or $300,000 project is the same, for that matter.
It’s critical for the industry at large to have these conversations. And Lairmore, Rothman, and the entire Factioned team are ready to start the dialogue.