Realtor Stephen Foster has a background in film and television and relies on video these days to help enhance his real estate services. Video tours of homes for sale are becoming more common in the Greater Victoria market.

HOMEFINDER: Video can work as a home marketing tool

One local Realtor is seeing it work effectively for clients

The popularity of home and garden TV shows has been an inspiration for Stephen Foster.

Married to an interior designer and keenly interested in home improvement projects, the Greater Victoria Realtor was looking for a edge as he built his fledgling real estate career.

With film and television experience under his belt, Foster’s answer has been to meld his various skills together and create a service that gives people a better sense of what a home and its surrounding neighbourhood are all about – before the potential buyer steps foot inside.

“Every single house I (have a listing for) gets a video,” he says. Where some agents limit video marketing coverage to their big-ticket, exclusive properties, he takes every property on its own merits and looks for the highlights.

“I feel there is value in everybody’s assets,” he says, adding those appealing characteristics can be found all around a home.

Using video as a tool to sell homes is not new, but Foster has taken the strategy to a new level, posting the videos on his personal website and creating a YouTube channel that now has more than 500 subscribers.

With many potential buyers, even those just curious about what’s on the market or for sale in their neighbourhood, looking online first for details about homes, Foster says, video is the next step to linking busy potential buyers to properties.

“I just thought, why not give people a different impression of a home,” Foster says, adding the fact he is comfortable in front of a camera helps him make the presentations fun and entertaining. “A sale is still about reaching out to people, and that was a way of connecting on a wider scale.”

The explosion of YouTube and its links to social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and others has allowed Foster’s service to blossom in the last couple of years.

Anyone without a background in film and TV would no doubt find the process of creating individual videos for each listing a time-consuming, labour-intensive activity. But Foster says the process has been worthwhile and provides him with some quality leads.

While he watches his advertising budget closely, he says it’s still important to use a multi-pronged approach, using print and other mediums to reach a broad audience.

“Initially I had to focus where I could get as many people as possible,” he says. “With my background, taking people through a home by video was of paramount importance. The impact has been great, and it’s growing as people see how I do my work.”

He’s had buyers contact him from Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan who have seen his videos.

Realtor Fergus Kyne, a former schoolteacher who’s been selling real estate in Greater Victoria since 1998, also uses video, but in a slightly different, more subjective way.

He offers listing reviews in short video segments – often featuring guests who provide ancillary services to the real estate industry – in which he gives his opinion on various aspects of properties currently listed for sale.

“I was looking for a different way to attract buyers, and the idea came up to help buyers review listings, in terms of the value and the possibility of getting a property sold,” he says.

The idea, he says, was to be able to say, “XYZ property at 1234 Elm St. is priced very well and I don’t think it will last long,” where another home might be perceived as being somewhat overpriced for the market.

While he finds his forté is still working with people face to face, the video service has offered another way of getting his image out there as someone with expertise in the housing market.

With analysis and what-if style TV programs like Trading Spaces, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Property Virgins continuing to prove popular, the use of video by Greater Victoria Realtors is likely only going to increase. Given the time involved in producing, some agents will still have to be convinced that it’s worth their while.

Q: WHAT ARE SOME THINGS I CAN I DO TO HELP GET TOP PRICE FOR MY HOME?

Make sure you have room to negotiate – When determining your asking price, be sure you have left yourself enough room to bargain. Select your highest and lowest price and then consult your motivation for sale: do you want to price high to earn the most, or price low for a quick sale?

Enlist the opinion of others – Don’t rely solely on your own judgement when preparing your home for sale. Ask others what they honestly think about your property’s strengths and weaknesses. A good realtor will give an honest opinion about steps to be taken to make your home as saleable as possible.

Don’t move out before you’ve sold – It’s well known that a vacant home is more difficult to sell and may appear to potential buyers like you have a strong motivation to sell.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » AS OF APRIL 9 / COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

185 / 615 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES, MONTH-TO-DATE / April 2013

493 / 1,346 — NEW LISTINGS THIS MONTH / TOTAL FOR APRIL 2013

4,124 / 4,585 — TOTAL ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / PEAK, April 2013

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