Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have been privy to the exponential rise of the meme culture and the many viral memes that have come out as a result of it. The “It’s Free Real Estate!” meme belongs to that lot of viral memes and if you want to build an impactful online presence in the real estate space, you simply cannot ignore it. From Elon Musk to the Simpsons and Shrek, this meme has spared no one – real or fictional – and has made people across the world chuckle.
But if you’ve been scratching your head wondering where this meme comes from and how you can make it your own, then this article comes to your rescue. We will take you through the birth of the meme all the way up to its current use and also show you how you can create your own version of this meme in minutes using InVideo’s meme maker.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
1. Origin of the meme
2. How to use it
3. How to make this meme your own
4. The meme in popular culture
Given how relatable this meme is, by the time you’re done with this article, you will have several ideas of your own on how to use it. So hold tight and read this blog, it’s all yours—or as they say, it’s free real estate!
1. Origin of the “It’s Free Real Estate” meme
Whether it’s taken from a famous show, movie, or interview, every meme has a story behind it, and this one is no exception.
It all started on March 24, 2009, with an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!—a sketch comedy series created by and starring Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.
The episode in question, titled Presidents, saw both Tim and Eric running for President. It featured many sketches and one bit, Free House For You, Jim, particularly caught the audience’s eye.
A parody of TV commercials, the sketch was in the form of an advertisement meant for one person and one person only, Jim Boonie. Tim and Eric played real estate agents in the advertisement, claiming they have a special offer—a free property—for Jim alone.
The actors kept repeating “it’s free,” “free real estate,” “free house” throughout the clip to get Jim to take action and claim the free house now. And it ended with a close-up of Tim where he whispered the money line, “it’s free real estate” with a smirk—and that right there was rich meme material.
The statement “it’s free real estate” caught everyone’s attention because it is a paradox – there is no such thing as free real estate. Coupled with Tim’s expression while saying it, made it a pop culture phenomenon. Over the years following the episode, the phrase became a popular inside joke among the show’s fans, but nothing much came of it till 2012 when Adult Swim – the network that ran the show – put Tim & Eric’s sketch on YouTube. It ended up receiving over 8 million views and hundreds of thousands of likes. And the phrase “it’s free real estate” was once again catapulted into the limelight.
By 2016, Tim’s catchphrase became a popular in the online world as a bait-and-switch punchline in videos and popular images. Here’s one of the first few examples of the videos that were being made using this phrase:
Even the comments on this video shows how popular and loved Tim’s iconic phrase is:
After this came the Gorillaz free real estate video, where Tim’s quote was blended seamlessly into their song, Clint Eastwood.
From YouTube and other video formats, the quote picked up on Tumblr and Reddit and started appearing in image macros, giving rise to memes like these:
Once it was on Reddit, the meme spread like wildfire — people started using it to put a humourous spin on any situation that presented an opportunity that could be exploited aka, stuff they identified as “free real estate”
The following two memes, for instance, received thousands of upvotes on Reddit, encouraging other users to hop on the trend.
That was all about how the meme started and grew in popularity. Now, let’s understand what it exactly means and where it’s appropriate to use.
2. How to use the meme
When it comes to using memes for marketing purposes, you must understand the context of a particular meme and how and where to use it well. Otherwise, not only will you put off and repel your audience, but you’ll also risk hurting your brand image.
And, using the wrong meme at the wrong time or in the wrong context can make your brand the subject of jokes and criticism—and that’s never good.
So, what does the free real estate meme mean?
Speaking, the meme talks about real estate or any area that’s “free” or vacant. In general, the meme is used for situations hinting that something is low-hanging fruit, free to take, or a good opportunity one can take advantage of—so it’s free real estate.
Check out these examples for a better understanding of the meme:
1. For instance, this free real estate meme refers to an empty corner in the room that spiders feel they can claim.
2. This real estate meme is about how cats jump at the opportunity of seeing an empty box and getting inside it.
3. This meme refers to real estate in terms of free space on a website.
4. This one talks about how just the fact that trees exist acts like a good opportunity for woodpeckers to take advantage of.
5. This meme talks about how making memes on Reddit’s app icon change was “free real estate” that you could capitalize upon since no one was talking about it.
Twitter users have also jumped on the bandwagon and created their versions of the meme without even using the “it’s free real estate” meme template.
And who doesn’t love cat memes? Besides, they bring great traffic opportunities—while we were editing this blog post, 120 people already tweeted with the hashtag #CatsofTwitter. Pair it with a trending and historical meme like “It’s free real estate!” and you’ve got a recipe for virality.
And it’s not just the catchphrase that has made the meme popular. We believe it’s also the expression Tim gave at the moment that has made it such a sensation—that’s why people use this footage even without the phrase or with just parts of it to create original jokes.
Here’s an example:
3. How to make this meme your own using InVideo
Now that you’ve got some ideas around how you can use this meme for your marketing activities, let’s look at how you can create one of your own. You don’t have to scrounge the internet for the gif in the meme, you can easily use this template, and edit it using InVideo’s intuitive video editor that’s super easy to use, even for complete beginners.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how you can create your own “It’s free real estate!” meme using InVideo:
Step 1: Sign in to your InVideo account or create a new one if you haven’t already. Open this template, choose your aspect ratio based on the platform you want to post this meme on, and click on Use this template.
Step 2: Once the editor is open, navigate to Text in the left menu panel to add text, or change the format and size. If you want to keep the font the same, you can also double click on the existing text, and retype it to what you want in your meme.
Step 3: If you want to associate a particular version of the meme with your brand, simply add your logo to the template as a branding exercise. Click on Upload Logo to brand your meme, in case it goes viral and is reshared by a significant number of people.
Step 4: Once you’re satisfied with the meme, click on Download & Share from the top right corner and hit Export.
Step 5: Once the video is processed, click on Download to save the meme to your device or directly share it on social media.
And with this, your “It’s free real estate” meme is ready for you to share!
4. The meme in popular culture
While the meme itself became popular on social media, the “it’s free real estate” catchphrase also ended up finding its way into other pop culture mediums ranging from sitcoms to nursery rhymes and even the news. Well, the audience isn’t complaining, so let’s take a look at some of these instances where this meme became super popular:
1. The Simpsons jump on the bandwagon
One of the most iconic uses of Tim’s famous catchline was when Bart reiterates it during an episode on The Simpsons. The makers have been known to incorporate easter eggs and important pop culture phenomena in the show from time to time and this was one such instance.
This scene from the sitcom saw Bart trying to use some microphones, and guess what he decided to say to test them? “It’s free real estate!” What Bart did next and how it shook the town was hilarious in itself, but the allusion to the popular joke also contributed to making this moment fun and cherishable.
2. Spongebob and free real estate
Another show that liberally used the “free real estate” catchphrase is Spongebob. Viewers and fans have created multiple variations of it by adding the meme in different scenes but making us laugh all the same.
Here’s a video recreating Spongebob’s iconic “come closer” scene with Tim’s “free real estate” whisper.
Here’s another one where Spongebob whispers a message into a bubble and sends it to Patrick. When the bubble pops, the message turns out to be “it’s free real estate,” making Patrick and the viewers giggle.
And this video made the show’s “funnier than 24” scene even more hilarious. Watch it to find what Spongebob finds funnier—no prizes for guessing!
3. Free real estate in nursery rhymes
Sitcoms, however, aren’t the only place where this meme took the audience by storm. Another area is nursery rhymes! Incorporating pop culture jokes into nursery rhymes, who would’ve thought of that? But this video will change your mind.
The video has a lady beautifully reciting One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, but things take an interesting turn at “7, 8”—because it rhymes with “it’s free real estate!” This video is proof of how widespread and popular the meme is
Here are a few more examples that are sure to crack you up:
4. TikTok’s relationship with songs
The meme didn’t spare one of the most popular social media platforms in the world either. Putting a different spin on the free real estate template, this meme got over 82,000 upvotes. It showcases how TikTok considers any new, catchy song as “free real estate” because potentially any song can go viral on TikTok and kick off a trend.
5. Elon Musk’s Mars project
Even Elon Musk wasn’t spared from the clutches of this meme when he announced his plan to establish a colony on Mars. The iteration for this meme quickly turned from “it’s free real estate” to “It’s free Mars estate.”
There are many different versions of this meme, and one took it to the next level by morphing Elon and Tim’s faces together. Bonus points for creativity!
6. DJ Khaled and his “another one”
Here’s another good rendition of the meme.
Have you noticed how DJ Khaled shouts his name or “another one” during his songs? Well, that’s a classic example of using free real estate, literally and figuratively—the rapper finds some space (and a good opportunity) in his song and smartly inserts his catchphrase there.
Isn’t it amazing how a video clip from more than 10 years ago is still doing the rounds in the meme world and continues to make people laugh? This real estate meme has been in the game for a long time and is most likely here to stay. So, now that you know the ins and outs, wear your creative hats and make your version of it.
The best part is that you can also easily create it using this template from InVideo. All you have to do is think of a unique and fun idea to put in the caption because the template will do the heavy lifting for you. And if you’re interested in making more memes about real estate, InVideo has 100+ real estate meme templates you can plug-and-play to cash in on meme marketing trends today!
This post was written by Komal and edited by Adete from Team InVideo