Are Landlords the Next YouTube Superstars?

Welcome to the strange world of the “landlord influencer”

Landlords on YouTube
When real estate and viral videos meet, things can get very weird.
Meet Kevin/YouTube
By Tobias Carroll / November 18, 2019 7:01 am

You’ve heard of influencers; you’re likely also aware of the existence of landlords. But until now, you may not have known that “landlord influencers” exist. Think about it, though: we live in an era where real estate television is big business, and where a blend of charisma and social media skills can lead one to a certain degree of fame. The idea of the “landlord influencer” seems more and more like a logical outgrowth of certain trends in technology and media.

Whether or not that’s a good thing is a bit trickier to figure out.

At Curbed, Steven T. Wright explored this phenomenon. At the center of Wright’s article is a guy named  Kevin “Meet Kevin” Paffrath. By the age of 27, Paffrath has said, he accumulated a net worth of $5.5 million. Paffrath has harsh words for those who emphasize frugality. “If you’re focused on not spending 50 bucks at Red Robin, I think that’s a miserable way to live life,” he told Curbed. “I think real estate is the easiest solution to all that.” 

Paffrath has also come under fire from some of the things he’s spoken about in his videos — including talking about rejecting applicants with credit scores below 700. Not surprisingly, the podcast Chapo Trap House had a field day with that one.

Wright notes in the article that landlords have often turned to one another for advice — and so the videos made by Paffrath and his contemporaries are less of a new thing and more of an updated version of a longstanding tradition. 

The article is an excellent exploration of both a unique online subculture, but it doesn’t neglect the very real issues that this phenomenon stirs up. A 2017 article by Matthew Desmond argued that home ownership was directly connected to income inequality in the United States — and Wright’s article taps into the same unsettling perspective on how the status quo in bygone days has turned into something out of reach for many. 

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