Virtual Home Tour Revolution

Open homes – a necessary evil of house-hunters everywhere.

Rushing to make it there in the half-hour slot, taking off your shoes, signing the book, awkwardly shuffling past people up and down the stairs.

What if you could weed out all the houses that don’t even come close to what you’re looking for without having to go through all of that rigmarole?

Or in reverse, what if you could easily take a look at a property that you may have discounted and not bothered to go and see in person?

That’s where virtual home tours come in – putting a new spin on traditional home-viewing.

A recent article predicted Kiwi house-hunters may soon swap open homes for virtual reality.

Open2view is leading the way…

Open2view is already at the forefront of this technology with its 3D HomeView tours.

House-hunters can explore a property from every angle at their own pace on their computers, smartphones and tablets without having to physically step foot in the house.

HomeView uses 3D photography to capture and create interactive content with three different perspectives:

1. Walkthrough – navigate seamlessly from room to room and view it at any angle.

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2. Dollhouse – zoom out to a 3D dollhouse view.

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3. Floor plan – see everything in its place from above.

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Granted there are no virtual reality headsets but I bet they play havoc with your hair…

Virtual reality may not replace open homes entirely, but our HomeView tours allow would-be buyers to see a house from perspectives they would never get in real life, so there’s no denying it has its place.

We’re all used to having most things instantly available at our fingertips these days – and now house hunting is no different!

Check out our current listings to explore a property at your own pace, from every angle, by taking your own 3D HomeView tour – just look for the HomeView icon.

Or contact Open2view’s teams in New Zealand and Australia today to find out more about 3D HomeView.

What do you think of the idea of house hunting via virtual reality? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Kerb appeal: 4 most desirable features

kerb appeal

Ten seconds. That’s the time house hunters take to decide if they like a property – just a quick glance up and down from the street.

A third of buyers in new research said they wouldn’t even venture inside if they were unimpressed with a home’s exterior. But more than half of the surveyed homeowners said they would buy a property that looked appealing on the outside even if the interior needed extensive renovation.

That lawn you’ve been neglecting or that rusty old garden furniture you’ve been meaning to chuck out? Probably a good idea to mow the lawn and ditch the tired garden accessories to give the outside of your house a bit of a spruce-up before putting it on the market.

There’s not a whole lot you can do if you’re surrounded by some more shabby, less chic neighbouring properties. But if the bloke next door has a front yard that doesn’t look like it’s seen a lawn mower this side of the millennium, you could always offer to give it a quick tidy. Or, if the extent of your interaction has been little more than a grunt in passing since you moved in, maybe just cut your losses and hope potential buyers are after bush views.

With house hunters trawling through hundreds of property listings online, a good exterior photo is paramount.

First impressions count.

The kerb appeal features voted most desirable:

1. A well-manicured garden
manicured lawn

2. A parking space
parking space

3. Appealing looking neighbouring houses

4. Neighbours having well-manicured gardens
neighbour lawn

To check out some more houses with great kerb appeal follow us on Facebook and Twitter in New Zealand and on Facebook and Twitter in Australia.

All in a day’s work..

profilepicIt’s not everyday that you get to dangle 35 meters in the air from a crane. But for Open2view photographer Grant Drummond, it’s just another day at the office.

Grant covers the busy Auckland central area, but took some time out to do a little bit of a Q & A for us, about some of the challenges and highlights of the job, as well as sharing some pics from his recent travels…

Q. How did you get started in real estate photography? | What was your career path?

Before this I managed an apartment building. I was looking for a business and this looked ideal. My technical knowledge of photography was limited but I was confident I had an eye for composition.

Q. Shooting properties in central Auckland must have it’s challenges, but what do you enjoy most about it?

There’s so much variety. St Heliers mansions to shoebox apartments and everything in between. Sometimes I get more satisfaction from making a mediocre place look good than making a beautiful house look great.

Q. What’s the most challenging shoot / photo of a property you’ve had to take?

I was hoisted by a crane to take some ‘view’ shots for a ‘to-be-built’ apartment building. I had to use the camera one-handed at 35m as I wasn’t letting go of the ‘basket’.



Q. (Apart from your camera) what piece of technology could you not live without when you’re working.

Q. In your opinion, what makes a good real estate picture stand out from the rest?
Excellent use of lighting (though I look at the Property Press a bit differently than the average reader).

Apart from real-estate… what other types of photography do you enjoy?
Travel photography, random scenes from the street (though I mostly use my i-phone for these).

You’ve recently been travelling. Where to? What was the highlight?
Brazil. Getting to some World Cup games. Some of the street parties were pretty good too.

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Finally, (very important question)….who’s your favourite to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup?

When I read the question yesterday I was going to say Argentina. After (the first semi-final) it’s hard to look past Germany.

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Cheers Grant! Guess we’ll find out on Monday who’s going to take it out.

Follow this link to view Grant’s portfolio and get in touch about the Open2view services available.

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 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

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 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:


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.


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.


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 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.


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!

2014. Year of the Real Estate Video.

Video is one of the most powerful and engaging forms of marketing. It’s the number one form of content that people consume on the web and the web is now the number one place people are looking for property.

The ability to tell a story about a property and connect emotionally with a buyer, is key to a successful real estate video.

Every property is different and may require a different approach when the time comes to film. That’s something our photographers and videographers understand fully!

Rachel von Nordeck & Paul Willetts have been with Open2view for almost a year now. We thought we’d have a quick catch up with them and take a look at some of the great high definition videos they are producing for their clients in the Christchurch South area…

What led you both into the field of photography?  

Rachel: Photography has always been a facet of my career. I completed a BA in Design with a minor in Photography at university and in some way or another, I have ‘made pictures’ throughout my career—from directing shoots for magazine spreads to graphic design layouts to video production.

Paul: I studied Photography back at Secondary School and guess was quite good at it, seeing as after two years as I was awarded Top Scholar in New Zealand for Bursary Photography. I then did what I thought I should do and go to University where I studied Physical Education for four years. This lead me to become a Scuba Diving instructor in Christchurch. When I decided to put the scuba diving and photography together I got a job in Grand Cayman. This was where my Video Camera Operator experience began. For the last 10 years I’ve been travelling around the world (Grand Cayman, Thailand, Egypt, Bahamas) working as an Underwater Camera Operator. Once I reached Egypt I was involved filming and editing footage for Film Festivals and a number of Freediving World Championships.

Seeing as I was born and bred in Christchurch, after the September quake I was drawn to return to see what it was all about and to feel more connected to the experience that friends and family were experiencing during that time. On returning I got a job as a camera operator for Trackside TV, where I still lend my skills occasionally.

Apart from real estate, what else do you enjoy photographing?

Rachel:  Anything where I get to blow bubbles! I have been extraordinarily lucky to have experienced many underwater ‘National Geographic’ moments in the last 10 years as an underwater camera operator. I’ve filmed everything from wildlife for documentaries to international free diving competitions and I loved every minute of it!

Paul: Its been over 3 years since I last had the chance to go diving and film fish. I miss being surrounded by schools of 1000+ snapper and barracuda and being able to be in my little underwater world amongst manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, etc etc etc. Think this year I might have to try and get back in the warm water somewhere on a holiday.


What’s been the most interesting property you’ve photographed/filmed recently? 

Rachel: On a stunning Canterbury day, anything with a view will do! I love shooting the hill properties with a gorgeous aspect overlooking Christchurch.

Paul: I guess all the property videos that we have done this year have been fun. We are continuing tweeking them and as no two houses or agent are the same I think you have to be flexible with your approach. I did enjoy filming our first property video on Factory Road in Little Akaloa, as it allowed me to get my feet wet at least being in the stream with the eels. I am really enjoying having the steadicam rig since Christmas and is providing a great challenge as it is something I have never used before. Well until we filmed 25A Kahu Road.  

What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead:

Rachel:  I am most looking forward to continuing to build our business and developing my skills as a photographer. I’m still so new to working in real estate, I’ve got plenty more to learn.

Paul: With the huge amount of video on the internet these days and the strength it has as a marketing media I am really looking forward to pushing HD video for Real Estate. Even on returning to New Zealand I saw a hole in the market.  I believe when it comes to internet / websites and technology New Zealand is a little slow at picking things up and I really want to get Video into the Real Estate market and have it more commonly used. Oh, but most of all, building my Agent numbers and doing more photography again.

Let your listing stand out from the crowd.
Lets take a look at some of the recent high definition videos that Rachel & Paul have filmed. Each offers a different style to suit the purpose of the video…

Powerful Perspectives
A vendor’s stories can bring a property to life: how they came to be here; what they’ve loved about their home; and how it may break their hearts to leave. These stories show a prospective buyer not just the property, but the lifestyle that goes with it! With video you can get a real sense of the space of the home, but you can also convey powerful emotions.

A Testament to You
There can be no greater impact than a face-to-face testimonial. And if you can’t drag your convert along with you, video is the next best thing.

Capture Your Next Client
Yes, anyone can walk through a house with a video camera but filming a space in a way that captivates the viewer requires a more creative and artistic approach. Open2view video services include filming, editing, color enhancing and customisation for your websites and social media.

And there you have it.  Three great examples of how a well produced video can take your property marketing efforts to the next level.  To find out more about our HD Video Tours and the other services Open2view have to offer, check out our Services Page on our website.

And if you’re on facebook, stop by and say hello to the team at Open2view Christchurch South