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25 August 2008

“Flip” that House

Posted by Jason Steele

Two weeks ago, my wife and I resumed our home search. This time we were exploring a new county. Yes, “county.” We still haven’t narrowed it down to a single location at this point. It’s all conjecture anyway because our only potential buyer to date drew up an offer with their agent and has not been heard from since.

It was an aggressive day with 8 properties to see in 3 different towns. With a new baby in tow, we don’t have a ton of time on our hands so we need to cram as much into a day as we possibly can. Our agent only takes 1 appointment a day so it is nice to not feel rushed with so many homes to see. Long story short, I will forever recall that adventure as “Bait & Switch” weekend. All I can say is that pictures only tell half the story and, on that occasion, the photos were actually more misleading than helpful.

Obviously, the seller’s agent did a great job of marketing the property via photos because the home made it onto our list. However, the question I would ask is, “What is the objective?” To attract just anyone who thinks the rest of the home resembles the listing photos? That approach is quantity vs. quality. Yet, in my position, when you have limited time to conduct a home search it’s just frustrating.

Fast forward a week. My family decided to take our annual pilgrimage down to the Jersey shore. I was super excited because it was my first chance to use my NEW Flip camcorder. With 2 kids now, the idea of carrying anything bulky is a huge turn-off. Hence, I am a fan of electronic gadget downsizing. However, downsizing can’t preclude quality. The Flip has the footprint of an iPhone but it is a bit bulkier, records 60 min of 640×480 video and easily uploads to social media sites like YouTube and Facebook. About half way through recording my son throw rubber frogs onto the rotating lily pads it dawned on me that this thing could have a real estate application.

If a listing agent could carry one of these around with them along with their digital camera, a picture could really be worth 1,000 words (deflation has caused it to dramatically drop to about 565 words in today’s economy). The key here is the simplicity. It really only requires the pushing of one button to record or stop the device and connect to your computer via the built-in USB connection for downloading/uploading. You can get real fancy with production but you don’t have to, although I do appreciate a good voice over and background music.

As a consumer, if I could see the listing agent just walk through the property from room to room, it would give me a much better sense of whether I want to spend my time looking at the place in person. Taking the video is step one, but now with services like WellcomeMatt, an agent can add chapters and easily make it look very professional. On top of attracting more qualified buyers, the property will stand out in the proverbial crowd. The marketing opportunities expand as well with YouTube, Facebook, and many other social media sites. On the flip side, no pun intended, as a home shopper, I plan on taking this device with me on every home viewing as I now can store each walk through and not have to struggle to remember what I liked and what I didn’t in each house.

Just think, if I had already prequalified the properties I was seriously interested in, my agent might have time for 2 appointments a day.

One thought on ““Flip” that House

  1. Jason, you’ve hit the nail on the head — well done video is definitely the best way of showcasing a home and helping you decide if a home is worthwhile visiting. However, video and photography have the same drawbacks: done poorly, even a great home can look bad; done well, even a poor home can look great. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point with technology that an electronic rendering of a home will be completely lifelike.

    Having said that, two recent technologies are certainly pushing the envelope: Microsoft’s Photosynth, and Girpoptic, a French company I met at Inman.

    BTW, your agent is _extremely_ patient if he/she is taking you to see homes in different counties!

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