By Kyle Christie, See Your House Now
Who is the best real estate photographer in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge?
We are! See Your House Now has been named the best for real estate photography and real estate marketing in the Waterloo Region Record Readers’ Choice Awards 2021.
Thank you Waterloo Region for making us the number 1 real estate marketing agency and number 1 real estate photographers in Waterloo Region.
If you’re looking to sell, work with an agent who invests in marketing your property with high quality real estate video tours, photography, iGUIDE 360 tours and detailed floor plans.
Ask an agent to See Your House Now.
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Don’t expect the return of crowded open houses.
5 Ways Post-Pandemic Open Houses Will Look Different for the Real-Estate Market
March 2020 marked a major shift in the way real estate is marketed and sold. As the world locked down for an indefinite period, house hunters found themselves locked out of prospective homes. Open houses became virtual, and companies like mine specializing in online marketing for real estate saw an uptick in business.
This was welcome news for some real-estate agents. Shuttered open houses meant spending more time with family and less time making small talk with nosy neighbors. For others, especially newer agents who rely on open houses as networking tools, this meant getting creative in finding prospective clients. Now, as restrictions are easing in some areas, the doors to open houses are slowly starting to unlock.
Here are five ways open houses will be different in a post-pandemic world.
1. Seller decision
More than ever before, the seller is now in the driver’s seat. Previously, agents would almost always encourage an open house at the time of listing. Now, that is no longer a given. Tabitha Rourke, broker of record with Rouse Realty Advisors, says she will make sure her clients are a greater part of the decision-making process. Rourke also indicated that the number of open houses is decreasing, and it’s not always necessary to hold one.
2. Mandatory sign-in
Signing in with a name and phone number has always been a convenient way for agents to follow up with visitors after an open house has ended. While this information was rarely mandatory to tour a home, times have changed. Sign-ins are now commonly required for contact tracing. Enterprising agents can take advantage of mandatory sign-ins by creating a sheet that allows visitors to check a “contact” box. This way, visitors can opt into the agency’s email list and agree to be contacted by the agent down the road.
3. Serious buyers only
Although it’s difficult to discern serious buyers from open house tourists, it doesn’t hurt to ask. In an effort to reduce traffic at open houses, some agents are asking buyers to do research and take advantage of online marketing materials before booking a showing or attending an open house. For example, sales representative Jessica Montague March adds the following to all of her property descriptions: “In the interest of everyone’s safety, before booking your viewing, please take advantage of our video walk through tour, photos, floor plans and mapping, during this time of social distancing.”Expect such instructions to appear more frequently in an effort to drive more traffic online.
4. Greater online presence
Marketing assets such as professional real-estate photography, videos, 360 virtual tours and floor plans weren’t fully utilized by every agent before the pandemic. Now, many sellers are expecting to list with someone who makes a significant digital investment in order to cut down on traffic in the home. Real-estate broker Sarah Middleton says she added iGUIDE 360 tours and floor plans in March 2020 because it makes her clients, who are mostly seniors, feel safe.
5. Safety protocols
Even in a post-pandemic world, prepare for safety protocols to stay when attending an open house. The precautions put in place to prevent Covid-19 can help prevent the spread of other viruses as well, including the seasonal flu and common cold. A sign-in sheet, sanitizer and mask protocol can be made mandatory by local public health or real-estate associations. Homeowners may also put those restrictions in place as a requirement for entry. An open house can be a very personal experience as prospective buyers walk through someone’s bedroom and open cabinets and closets. Wearing a mask and following safety protocols is a sign of respectful caution for one’s private environment.
Professional real-estate photography and videography are the best ways to limit traffic in an open house. Every listing requires a stellar online presence, so don’t forget to include a video that acts as a movie trailer. Serious buyers will then get a ticket to see it in its entirety. That ticket is a call or email to you, the seller or the listing agent.
Data-backed strategies will keep a prospective buyer locked on your listing.
My Company Has Produced More Than 1500 Real-Estate Videos. Here Are My 3 Takeaways.
When we started producing real-estate videos in 2012, the data showed us that people would happily sit through a 3 to 4-minute real-estate video. The concept of a video tour was new and prospective buyers and nosey neighbors apparently had a more robust attention span back then.
That’s not the case anymore.
We’ve now produced over 1500 real-estate videos. Now we can look at the current data and get a very clear understanding of how long people are sitting through these videos today. We took a look at the analytics from our Youtube channel, See Your House Now. The average view duration of our real-estate videos is now one minute and forty-two seconds, which is down slightly from last year.
So why is that important? Well, it tells us three very important things.
Don’t save the best for last
You don’t want to waste any of that significant one minute and forty-two seconds in which you do have their attention on something that isn’t attractive or significant. If the backyard is a key feature, show it within the first fifteen seconds, don’t leave it to the end. In many cases, you’ll want to follow the natural flow of a home by starting with the front exterior, then the interior before heading outside. Often though, a backyard is more attractive than the front.
We recently shot a 6,000 square-foot home on a pond. The front of the home had several large trees and it was difficult to see. The back, however, was a showstopper with a large pond and walk-out basement. When it comes to marketing a property like that, it’s the pond and grandeur of the backyard that will really grab a prospective buyer’s attention, so we showed it first.
Start with attention grabbers
If you are using a voice-over or appear on camera,punch out the three key features of the property right away to get someone’s attention. For example, you might start the video by saying, “Close to hiking trails, schools, and full of upgrades inside.” I’m a big fan of starting with three key features off the top. As viewing habits point to smaller attention spans, it’s important to make the best use of the time you have to draw in your prospective buyer. Think about someone scrolling through Instagram. If every tour that comes across their feed is music and wide drone shots, they will likely keep on scrolling. Saying three key features right away will stop your ideal buyer from swiping to the next post.
Promote your personal brand
Whether you decide to appear on camera or not, a video tour is a great way to promote your brand. As time is precious, make sure your name and contact information are visible right away before people click. I suggest an animated lower third with a photo, contact information, and social handles. When you suggest this to your video provider, ask for a “motion graphics package.” Unlike a billboard, bus banner or print ad, your video tour will continue to be seen for months and years as a suggested video by YouTube, so get your brand out there.
It’s also a good idea to have your logo as a “bug”. A bug is a tiny image you see on the bottom right corner of a video. You see them on TV shows all the time as a way to remind you which network you’re watching. The big TV networks do it to build brand recognition and loyalty, so you can now do the same.
Think of your real-estate video as a movie trailer. A movie trailer doesn’t show boring or insignificant parts of a film, so don’t show the powder rooms, unfinished areas or the utility room. Instead, show the best it has to offer and someone will buy a ticket to see the entire film/home. The ticket is a call or email for you to show them through.
Drone photos and videos can be a great way to market a property, but it’s not always necessary.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use a Drone for a Real-Estate Listing
When I started my real-estate marketing agency in 2012, the only way to get an aerial view of a property was to hire a pilot with their own plane. It was expensive and few pilots were even willing to take you over a property. Quickly that changed as companies like DJI made drones (actually called quadcopters) commercially available. Now, a drone is a necessary part of any real-estate marketer’s toolkit, but you know the saying: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Here are five reasons why you should not use a drone when marketing a property.
If the property is on a small lot and very close to the neighbors, a view from above will really accentuate that. With ground photos and videos, it’s easy to focus on the home and property alone. But with drones, it can make a property look even more crowded than it actually is.
If you live in a snowy climate and a fresh coat of snow just fell, everything from above just looks white. Even with the most high-quality drone, so many details are lost. If you do use drones in the winter, plan your shoot for after the plows have been through. Make sure all the walkways to the home and sidewalks are clear so people can still see the defining spaces of a property.
Garbage (or recycling) day
If you can, try to book your photo or video shoot day on any day other than garbage day (and recycling day, leaf collection day, and compost pickup day depending on the neighborhood!) Blue bins are really bright, even from 200 feet in the air!
Proximity to non-residential spaces
Oftentimes, a neighborhood will be close to an industrial area. Light pollution, air pollution and noise pollution can all scare away a potential buyer. Even if it’s actually a really quiet neighborhood, a nearby industrial space can make it look less appealing than it actually is.
The neighbor’s property
The house you’re selling may look great. But your neighbor’s house may be in disrepair, their yard may be dead, or they may have a mess behind their fence — and that’s a huge red flag for a prospective buyer. So keep that in mind when you’re looking to show off a property from above.
Using high-quality photos, video, 360 tours and floor plans is a must to market a property today, but use the drone footage with caution. You might be pointing out a flaw that you can’t see from the ground.
One final note: Don’t forget to make sure your drone operator is certified or licensed to fly in your area and carries the necessary insurance in case something goes wrong. And, if you’re flying near any airports or hospitals, make sure they are able to file the proper paperwork!
Better than glamping. This is eco-friendly luxury.
By Kyle Christie, See Your House Now
My kids wanted to go camping and my wife won’t settle for less than four or five stars. So one night while planning our family vacation I strayed away from Expedia and searched for something a little more unique and memorable. I found it, and it was beyond amazing. It was Domes Charlevoix.
We fell in love with the Charlevoix region of Quebec on a business trip in 2018. My wife and I stayed at Le Germain Hotel in Charlevoix and shot a couple of fitness videos for our business The Buff Mom. Immediately we knew we’d return to the area. Not only did we love the hotel, but we loved the area. It’s spectacular and that’s an article on its own, but let’s talk about Domes Charlevoix.
I found the site one night by googling “Glamping Charlevoix”. I thought a higher end camping trip would please my wife and my kids. After spending a couple of nights there, I can tell you this is not glamping or camping. This is absolute luxury.
We’ve been very fortunate to stay in some really nice hotels and this accommodation beats them all. The luxury is in its simplicity. It’s unique, it’s special, it’s absolutely incredible.
As much as we love to travel to New York and Toronto every year, we really love quiet. My wife meditates daily and the rest of us are in the habit of pausing and being grateful for the moment.
I love taking the family on unique travel experiences so when the first search result was Domes Charlevoix, I was intrigued. This was not glamping, this was more. Eco-friendlyluxury. A perfect mix. This would getus close to nature, but ensure we still had access to the comforts of a five star resort and the price was right, too good to be true.
You‘re seeingthe pictures, so let me tell you about the experience. You pull up to a tiny parking lot in the mountains. You can see three domes in the distance. After entering a code into a lockbox, you get your key. Nobody ever greets you and there is something really nice about that. It make you feel like you’re the first person to experience this. There are security cameras so you know someone is watching but it doesn’t feel intrusive, instead it makes you feel safe.
After climbing about forty steep stairs, you arrive at your dome. Our kids were so excited. They had the reaction every parent wants their kids to have on vacation, a mix of excitement, awe and appreciation. The moment we entered, they didn’t want to leave.
The location is private. It’s quiet. The domes are not soundproof but the people on either side of us respected that we were all up here together. There is no loud music, just the sound of nature, the feeling of gratitude and the view of perfection, the St. Lawrence river.
Imagine sleeping in your ideal tree house. At night, it’s more than five stars, it’s millions. The sky is alive with shooting stars and their refection on the river.
The morning is even more unique. I suggest leaving the dome curtains open and grabbing the sunrise.
Surrounded by trees, the leaves dance with the morning sun creating flickers of soft light on your eye lids. It’s nature’s wake up call and when you open your eyes, the St. Lawrence greets you. So quiet and so perfect it feels like virtual reality but this is real.
This makes you realize how simple life can be. Don’t get me wrong, this is luxury but it’s based on necessity, wellness and comfort, not excess. The wow factor comes from the natural surrounding.
Coffee on the deck in the morning with my feet in the hot tub, I look around and am overwhelmed with gratitude. The moment isn’t over but already I want to experience it again.
As a digital entrepreneur, I love that I’m able to work from anywhere in the world. The wifi here was strong so although I could unplug, I was able to run my company from high up in this mountain. In fact, on our last day I was dealing with tech support and trying to launch a new website. I was running into problems but twice I stopped and looked at the view realizing how amazing it was to be in this incredible location running my business. If I have to put out fires and solve problems, this is where I want to be.
The use of space is surprising inside. My wife and I had the main queen bed and our two boys shared a mezzanine level queen above. The bathroom was private and the concrete floor throughout is warm with radiant heat.
Outside, the hot tub is a bonus. Whether it’s morning coffee, evening wine or family time, having the small spa at your disposal offers one more way to enjoy the St. Lawrence view.
This really was the perfect trip. Charlevoix is memorable because of the people, the landscape and the farm to table experiences. These domes couldn’t be in a more perfect location. If you need to work, you can work but if you want to unplug, you can.
Some trips stay with you forever. This is one of them and I know we will be back.
Unique vacation in Canada.