Some real estate agents hire actors and script vignettes to tell fanciful stories about potential lives in future homes. Some fly drones overhead to capture manicured gardens, or a skyline view.
And some don a hot pink bathrobe printed with hearts, kiss a rubber duckie while lounging in a bathtub, or cartwheel across the backyard. One Durham region real estate agent does all three.
Apparently, 2616 Prestonvale Rd. in Courtice has an inviting exterior, a sunny master bedroom, and a kitchen perfect for entertaining. But these features aren’t the main focus of an online video advertising the three-bedroom, three-bathroom bungalow listed at $438,900.
This property is for you if you love drinking your morning coffee on a private deck, a British voice-over says, as a woman with long, platinum-blonde hair — agent Vanessa Shelley of Coldwell Banker 2M Realty — yawns and saunters out, mug in hand.
“You love a huge backyard,” the voice says as she traipses around the yard, advertised as approximately 13 by 53 metres, wearing short-shorts and knee socks.
“You love lots of storage,” a voice says as Shelley, smiling, climbs out of a crawl space wearing a black dress.
Last year the Ontario Real Estate Association suggested videos, including the lifestyle variety, as an “adrenalin shot when it comes to online content.” Even worldwide luxury broker Sotheby’s International Realty is pushing video. But Shelley said the typical video tour didn’t suit this home, which has been sitting vacant after renovations.
So rather than show off its empty rooms, Shelley wanted to show off the lifestyle it offered. Besides, images of the actual house can be seen on MLS websites, and videos that just pan over furniture in rooms can be “mundane.” It started with the idea of coffee on the balcony and “it just sort of spiralled.”
“It was supposed to be a cheeky, funny thing to get attention for the house,” Shelley told the Star.
“It’s just a different perspective on how to sell something,” she said. “Sort of how a beer commercial does things. They don’t really talk about the flavour of their beer but they talk about (how) if you drink this beer, you’re going to have fun and be in the sun and have beautiful people around you.”
The voice-over is indeed a real Brit, for whose services Shelley paid $6.93 via the rent-a-creative-type website Fiverr.com.
She was inspired by a Calgary agent’s spoof on real estate videos, one that shows a tall, dark and handsome guy showing off a condo’s amenities. “It has a washroom,” he brags. “A kitchen.”
Shelley also hosts a YouTube show, To Realty and Beyond. In a spring episode, she demonstrates the same breezy style, interviewing four-term Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan about significant growth in the region and rising home prices, his preference for puppies over kittens, bacon over Nutella, Netflix shows, pet peeves and sports.
The house on Prestonvale Rd. hit the market Wednesday and has hosted 20 showings so far. The offer date is Tuesday.
Lifestyle marketing has become important to real estate, Toronto agent Karyn Filiatrault agrees. She left a career in documentary television to sell homes and offers arty, sometimes moody or sexy videos suggesting possible lives inside the walls.
Lifestyle videos are becoming more common, but “everyone seemed to be doing the same thing,” Filiatrault said. The standard lifestyle video is a happy couple and child at home, but her own videos have featured secret spy agents, ballerinas and solo dance parties.
“When you have this many agents in Toronto, it’s important to stand out in some way, shape or form,” Filiatrault said.
Anyway, to owner Brent Schultz, the sale price matters more than the video.
“If the price on the house is a number that I’m happy with, I’ll be like, ‘That was the greatest idea in the world.’ However, if I don’t get what I want from it, I’m going to say it was probably the worst idea in the world,” he said.
“But it’s getting a lot of traction, I’ll tell you that.”