‘Farkakte Apartments’: Yiddish word wins sales and TikTok fans for realtor
Selling and renting apartments in New York City is serious business. But realtor Stephanie Turk is using comedy, honesty and a rather vulgar Yiddish word, farkakte, to market her listings. Her unique style is not only bringing deals her way, but her @FarkakteApartments account on TikTok has nearly 40,000 followers and was even featured on ABC News.
Farkakte isn’t exactly a nice word: It literally means covered in excrement, but is more generally used to mean lousy or inferior. “My mom used to speak Yiddish and would use the word growing up,” Turk said. “She might have said my hair was farkakte. She might have said it about a tablecloth. With me, I can only sell something I really love and if I’m fake, it shows in my face. I found that it’s refreshing to people, and they appreciate both honesty and humor.”
She starts out her videos by saying, “Welcome to another farkakte apartment!” She never defines the term, but she thinks people can tell what it means by the way it sounds. Her running commentary, delivered in a deadpan voice, might include offhand insults about the place (“Is it filthy? It is!”) or a description of what’s out the window: “The 99-cent store because that’s the view you’re looking for!” On a lobby tour, she points out a crime report on the bulletin board: “You’ve got a felon in the neighborhood with his picture there!”
One of her most-watched videos, with 1.4 million views, shows water coursing across an apartment floor. “This is nice! Look at this!” she exclaims. “A little rain in the apartment, a little whitewater rafting in Bushwick! Yeah, garden level. Didn’t know that meant flood zone.”
Turk, who works for Compass Real Estate, says she’s not afraid that being honest or funny will hurt her business. “I stopped worrying so much and I knew I had to be real,” she said. “I thought it would give me success and if it didn’t, who cares?”
But don’t the landlords get angry? “No,” she said. “If the apartments are beat-up or rundown, they know, so it’s no secret. While there are always listings that aren’t the best, many of mine are luxury and clients see my TikTok and then want someone they can trust, which can be hard to get. Everyone is hustling and it means a lot for people to have the truth on their side.”
While many of Turk’s videos get laughs over the absurdities of living in tiny subpar spaces for astronomical prices, Turk also handles topnotch listings that sell quickly in the city’s hot real estate market. She said she sold a $2 million home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, in less than a week, and a condo in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, for $1.24 million.
A graduate of New York University, Turk has worked in real estate for nine years, but she dreams of taking her shtick to an even larger audience. Fans have already requested “farkakte” merch, and she says she’s “not ruling out a TV show.” She’s watched Bravo’s “Million Dollars Listing” series featuring the very funny Josh Altman and Josh Flagg, who sometimes uses Yiddish words, along with “Selling Sunset” on Netflix, starring Jewish twin brothers who run a lucrative real estate firm.
In the meantime, she’s not exempt from the usual chores involved in selling real estate, like hosting open houses. But she sees social media as a great way for agents and brokers to distinguish themselves in a competitive market. “I think TikTok is the most potent social media platform right now,” she said, adding: “It definitely sets me apart.”