Real estate ‘mini-movies’. Effective or excessive?

We’re big fans of HD video. It’s just one of the many services we offer here at Open2view.  Using high quality video to take viewers on a journey through a property and letting them ‘live the dream’ for a while, is an incredibly effective and powerful marketing tool for the real estate industry.

Without a doubt, it can be even more effective if that video goes viral.

‘Mini-movies’ are not new to the real estate industry. There have been some very, errrm, interesting examples in the past:


Real estate agents starring in their own property marketing videos is also nothing new, but a recent video that was brought to our attention left us wondering if this style of mini-movie making is very clever marketing, or perhaps a bit of overkill?

Shaken not stirred

Real estate agent Darren Berley claims to have an ‘Australian Real Estate First’ with his property video for a Penthouse Apartment in Perth, starring as 007 himself, in a James Bond inspired ‘mini-movie’ and performing all of his own stunts, including abseiling and choreographed fight scenes.

The videoette does manage to interweave some of the properties stunning features into the storyline, but one can’t help but think the whole thing might just be a bit of fantasy role play for Mr. Berley? If you have a spare 8 minutes and 15 seconds, take a look and let us know what you think….

Whatever your opinion may be, if the end result is a sale, then the mini-movie has fulfilled it’s purpose.

Check out our latest property listings featuring HD video tours on our website:

Open2view New Zealand
Open2view Australia 

Pinterest: The perfect place for property pictures.

How many of you have heard of Pinterest?

Those with long memories may recall  a few words we wrote about Pinterest back in May 2012. It was full of interesting facts: fastest site to hit ten million monthly visitors, 21 percent of members had bought something seen on Pinterest, that kind of thing.

How’s Pinterest looking almost 2 years on? Still pretty amazing, actually. Pinterest now has over 70 million users. Even better, it drives more referral traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google Plus combined. And the average orders, usually for home-related goods, are for between $140-180 each, compared to $60 and $80 on Twitter and Facebook.

Open2view on Pinterest

People are clearly spending a lot of time and money on Pinterest. Here at Open2view, we decided to up the ante a little. Could we get someone to place an order worth, say, at least $500,000 through Pinterest? Not just to furnish a home, but to buy an actual home?

It’s not all that far fetched. Real estate, after all, is a very visual product. People can fall in love with a house – or be completely put off – in about 20 seconds. It therefore made sense to go play Cupid on the most visual, and fastest growing, social site there is.

So out came the virtual scissors and glue, and so far we have over 300 pins across 21 Boards on our Open2view New Zealand Pinterest page and have just launched Open2view Australia on Pinterest.

Here’s just some of what you’ll find on our pages:

Property of the week – recently added properties that have caught our eye.

Fantastic first homes – properties perfect for first home buyers.

Beautiful bathrooms – self explanatory. We also have equally alliterative boards for other rooms.

Houses by twilight – Open2view’s night shots can be pretty spectacular.

Animal photography – we believe that if you must shoot an animal, it ought to be with a wide angle lens.

Man Caves – also known as garages, sheds and games rooms.

Not our photos – a bunch of awful, awful photos that quite clearly were not taken by us.

Best Views Ever Open2view on Pinterest

A sneak preview of one of our Pinboards.

Another Pinterest feature we love is the ability to see what others are pinning from our site. We often check out http://www.pinterest.com/source/nz.open2view.com/ to see what photos of ours are grabbing others’ attention. You can see what’s being shared from your site by replacing our website in that URL with yours.

Now then, what if you see something on our website that you just have to share? Easy as: press the button that says ‘Pin it’, pick what photo grabs you the most and pin it to one of your boards. If Pinterest users want to see where it came from, all they have to do is click the photo and it’ll take them to our listing. Brilliant.

Pinterest prompt on Open2view

Not too long ago Pinterest teamed up with another social media app Foursquare, to add a brand new feature called ‘Place Pins’. Aimed primarily at those pinners who use Pinterest to plot their holidays, they also make it easy for our audience to find houses in their region to look at. What’s holding it back from being totally ideal is the inability to pin in places not marked by Foursquare; if they don’t have it, you can’t pin it. Luckily you can search by region, district and suburb via our website’s comprehensive search engine anyway.
Pinterest Map

So back to my earlier question: can we use Pinterest to sell an Open2view house? Well – and here’s the biggest anticlimax of my 120 blog posts – we don’t know yet. But! Pinterest is an extremely visual site, which fits perfectly with what we do – stunning real estate photography. And with it being a huge referrer of traffic it would be silly for us not to be there.

And if you’re there too, why not say hi and share your favourite real estate photos with us. If you’re already on Facebook and are feeling lazy, you can see our pins there too via our Pinterest app. Social media is nothing, if not super convenient.

Open2view New Zealand Pinterest Page

Open2view Australia Pinterest Page

March NZ Property Report – Main centres drive national increase to new highs.

akl_map2

While always traditionally a busy time of year, March looks to top records for the property calendar in 2014.

Figures released this week by realestate.co.nz. show that  while over half of the country’s regions saw an increase in asking price, it was the major centres of Auckland, Waikato and Wellington that were the driving forces behind the new record national asking price of $484,263, each region reaching their own record level with Auckland jumping up 12% on the previous year.

Auckland: $683,169  – 1% up from previous month, 12% up from same month previous year.

Wellington: $469,487 – 1% up from previous month, 7% up from same month previous year.

Waikato: $393,612 – 3.6% up from previous month, 10% up from same month previous year.

Inventory levels rose slightly to 28 weeks, but still well down on the long term average of 37 weeks of stock.

New listings increased slightly form last month, up 2%, however overall, March listings were lower than expected. 14 regions reported lower new listings than the same time last year with the most significant falls in Coromandel (down 29%) and Nelson (down 25%).

Canterbury reported 3.7% increase in new listings and Auckland 5% up from March 2013, however the buyer demand in Auckland still far outweighing the number of properties available.

Graphic from realestate.co.nz

Graphic from realestate.co.nz

In other Auckland news, Barfoot & Thompson reported an 80% increase in sales from February, with average house prices reaching $725,708 and the marian sales price for the month sitting at $652,000.

March also saw the largest number of premium properties since 2008 to be sold by Barfoot & Thompson in a single month, with homes over the $1 million price bracket accounting for 35% of the total residential sales for the month.

Daunting figures for any potential new home buyer in the Auckland region.

View the full realestate.co.nz property report for March 2014 here

View Barfoot & Thompson’s latest market updates here

Put your own stamp on a piece of postal history…

Everyday at Open2view, we get to shoot many different properties all over New Zealand & Australia. You can always find a property that has something a little unique and interesting about it.

However, it’s not that often we get three historic post offices up for sale! For anyone who’s ever wanted a place with a little bit of character, these properties may just be what you’re after….

The Hunterville Post Office
10 Bruce Street, Hunterville, Rangitikei

hunterville_frontView Photo Tour on Open2view.com

Currently operating as a Bed & Breakfast, this heritage listed building served as the Post Office for the Hunterville community for over 80 years and was associated with the development of the town and it’s surrounding area until May 1989 when it was closed and sold to the present owner.

Constructed in 1902-03, the post office is a fine example of the Edwardian Baroque style that was favoured by the Government Architect John T. Campbell who designed the building. Some of Campbell’s better known designs include Wellington’s Public Trust Building (1905-1909) and the Auckland Chief Post Office (1911) and also our next building…

The Eltham Post Office
45 Bridge Street, Eltham
eltham_front

View Photo Tour on Open2view.com

One of the most iconic buildings in Taranaki, The Eltham Post Office is currently used as a commercial space and residence.

With a number of improvements and restorations underway or already completed, the opportunity is waiting for a new owner to put their stamp on it (pun intended).

Another design from Government Architect JT Campbell, the two storey brick building was built in July 1904 and opened for business on 12 September 1904.

The bricks used were supplied by H Graves of the Steam Brick Works in Patea, which funnily enough, takes us to our third Post Office….

The Old Post Office
40 Stafford Street , Patea
Patea Post Office

View Photo Tour on Open2view.com

In November 1867, the present township of Patea was surveyed, and a site was reserved for a Post Office. The building in which the Post Office and Telegraph Office were combined in 1870, was enlarged from time to time over the next ten years.

In 1879-80 the building in use up to 1923 was erected, the old one being shifted further down the section and converted into a Postmasters residence.

The present building was opened in October 1923. When first built, the Post Office building was described as ‘handsome’. It still is.

Not built to face the main street, but instead it faces Stafford Street, the entrance is set at the corner of the two streets, originally designed with a view to assisting the staff and public, but also offers spectacular sea and rural views from the top floor.

Now in private ownership and used for residential purposes, the building offers such unique spaces and features, my favourite….the pillars!

Pillars

Which is your favourite? Have you converted or renovated something similar? Let us know. Get in touch and show us some pics on our facebook pages:

facebook.com/Open2viewNZ

facebook.com/Open2viewAustralia

Are there times when just one photo is a good idea?

cluttered bedroom

One can’t help but wonder if some vendors deliberately sabotage the home selling process.

We reckon having plenty of high quality photos is crucial to presenting your home at its best. But this article from Inman.com made us ask, is this true of every home?

I may be wrong about this, but there are times when having just one photo in the MLS listing may actually be in the client’s best interest.

I saw a house almost three months ago that had just come on the market. My relocating client from Maryland was very interested because the solo photo — of the front — was very attractive and the home was in an area that she liked.

Ok, so far so good. But what happened when Jeff the Author got to the house?

The listing agent was showing the home, per the seller’s instructions, and asked us to wait until the other party was done. No problem.

Very shortly after, no more than one minute — LITERALLY — the other party came back out. We knew immediately something was amiss.

Uh oh.

We walked into the house and it was immediately clear why there were no other photos taken. It looked like a war zone, with stuff piled everywhere in the kitchen, dining room, enclosed back porch and living room. Carpet was being pulled up in all the main rooms and, per the agent, was being replaced by the seller. We couldn’t see two of the three bedrooms, “because someone was sleeping in there” and the doors were locked. We may have spent two minutes in the house, max.

It was, in my client’s words, a total waste of time. She wryly commented that it was clear why there were no other photos online.

Perhaps it was that there was only one good photo that could possibly be listed!

I suspect this agent felt one photo was in her client’s best interest, since the front looked quite nice and it got people interested in touring the house. She probably figured someone would, perhaps, see the potential and overlook the disaster area once they were at the house and saw the neighborhood.

Well, according to Jeff, the house is still on the market – and in a sellers’ market, at that – two months after it was listed.

So was this a case of the fewer the photos, the better? That old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force it to drink” comes to mind. A decent house photo may pique a buyer’s curiosity enough to lure them in – but if the rest of the place is a shambles, good luck filling them with any enthusiasm. More likely, the buyer will be furious at the agent for wasting their precious time.

Buyers want to see themselves in the house, with their stuff in place of the vendor’s. If they can’t see anything but clutter, the buyer will be unable to declutter their mind long enough to envisage the house as their home.

So, agents and vendors of the world, there is really only one thing to do: get the place tidy, then get plenty of professional photos taken. Whoops, two things.

It can be hard to remove old possessions that hold happy memories, or even those-things-that-have-never-been-used-in-ten-years-but-you-never-know-when-they-might-just-come-in-handy.

In an earlier blog post on this topic we provided some ideas for overcoming that mental hurdle and clearing away the physical one. They are:

  1. Note all the things you plan to absolutely keep – furniture, antiques, children, etc.
  2. Divide the rest of your stuff into three piles: ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and ‘Maybe’.
  3. Throw out everything in the ‘No’ pile.
  4. Throw out everything in the ‘Maybe’ pile.

Is it worth just hiding it all in a closet? Not really – storage space in itself is a great selling point, so if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Back to the original question: is having plenty of photos important? Assuming you’ve been good and tidied your room, then definitely.

Real estate is aspirational: people generally sell a house, then buy another, to improve their quality of life. As a vendor, you want people to look at your listing and see that buying your house will do this for them.

So help them see themselves in any room of the house by displaying photos of every room. You don’t need 20 shots of every room – an excessive number of photos will bore the viewer – but you need enough to get people thinking “you know, I can see myself living there – better call the agent and arrange a viewing time.”

So what next? If you’re unsure how many photos you need, head to the Open2view website and (as a rough guide) see how many photos houses similar to yours have listed. Then make sure your agent knows to contact us for the best real estate photos on the internet. We offer packages including photo tours of many sizes – your agent should be able to help you pick one. Finally, check out what else, of our vast range of services, can help you showcase your home at its best.

But in saying all that, if your house has features like this, no amount of photos will help.

living room with toilet

Guest post: Create emotional engagement with Open2view Interactive Floorplans.

Thanks to Angela Spackman from our Sydney Area Franchise for the following post and Q&A:

house-front

Engaged and motivated buyers are what every agent wants come auction day. At Open2view we know just how to create that extra level of excitement and give our agents the competitive edge. We’d call it our secret weapon except it’s really no secret; for us it’s just the basics.

To give your potential buyers a good feel for a place they need a proper look around. Every Open2view customer receives the required number of photographs and an interactive floorplan of their property. We don’t think five photos and a simple 2D floor plan are going to do the trick when it comes to telling a property’s story. We’ll make sure you have as many photos of the property as you need to capture all the special details and unique selling points.

floorplans1

With a few simple clicks of the mouse your buyer has an interactive experience which allows them to feel informed and excited about a property. The enthusiasm will build when they visit the property and will continue to do so once they get back to their computer for another tour.

close-up1

Thanks to our quality online content, buyers can spend the time between first viewing and auction day really falling in love with a property.  By the time you get to the big day they’ve virtually examined their new home from every angle, they know it inside out and they’ve already decided exactly how their personal belongings fit with the floor plan. In their mind’s eye they’re already living there.

At Open2view we aim to help our agents market each property to its full potential. We offer superior service simply by getting the basics right. Photography with interactive floorplans are just the start.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE to find out more about Interactive Floorplans and the many other Real Estate marketing services that we offer.

Angela_Spackman

Angela has been with Open2view since 2007. Her Sydney Area franchise covers the CBD, Eastern Suburbs and some of the Inner West.

Q. What led you into real estate photography?
A. Photography has always been my hobby. After moving to Australia and having my first child I wanted to work for myself to give me the flexibility to look after my daughter. I knew of Open2view because I come from NZ and I was having dinner with friends saying I wanted to do something but wasn’t sure what, they had just had their house photographed by an Open2view photographer who was telling them that they are now selling franchises in Australia, so we filled out the online application over dinner!

Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I love getting to be out and about during the day. I love the variety and all the different forms that real estate comes in. I love the flexibility to be able to attend my kids events and be there when they need me.

DayInTheLife

Q. Apart from real estate, what else do you like to photograph? Any hobbies?
A. Well I have 2 small kids who have grandparents that live in a different country so I am always photographing them to keep the family up to date with their growing faces, plus I think they are pretty great so love taking their photo! My other great interest is Hypnotherapy and I am now a qualified Hypnotherapist. I have used it personally to make great changes in my life and love helping other people achieve the same!

Feb Property Report: New record national asking price + win a BBQ!

SthAklView

February figures from realestate.co.nz have been released this week.

The rise in the national asking price that was seen in January has continued onwards and upwards into February. With seller confidence up and supply failing to keep up with demand, the national average asking price has hit a record new high of $483,099. This is up 1.3% from January, and eclipses the previous record high from October last year of $482,063.

The rise was seen across the country with 11 regions reporting a rise in asking price, with Auckland, Wairarapa and the West Coast reaching record highs:

Auckland ($667,370 – up 12% on Feb 13.)

Wairarapa ($329,396 – up 24% on Feb 13)

West Coast ($320,245 – up 8% on Feb 13)

Graphic from realestate.co.nz

Graphic from realestate.co.nz

12,167 new property listings came on to the market during February, a seasonal increase from January, but slightly lower than expected, down 7% from the same time last year.

Although national inventory levels fell slightly in February to 26 weeks of stock, they remain well above the long term average of 37 weeks, indicating that the market is still very much in favour of the seller.


Summer doesn’t have to end! 
Now here’s the “win a BBQ” part…

BBQ Flyer

Yes, it may be officially Autumn and yes, the temperature may have dropped a couple ofdegrees overnight, but here at Open2view.com, we don’t think that means that Summer has to end!

So we are giving away 3 amazing Weber BBQ prize packs to some lucky winners on our facebook page.

You’ll be cooking up a storm all the way through the year!

Each prize pack includes a Weber Q220 portable grill with mobile stand, a BBQ cover, BBQ tools and a pizza stone to cook the perfect pizza on your BBQ! We’ll also throw in an Open2view cooler bag with some beer (Which may, or may not, be cold at time of delivery)

To enter, just head to the BBQ Giveaway tab on our NZ Facebook page.

GOOD LUCK!