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Video viewings: How to make the most of digital property viewings

Written by Lorne Hallendorff, COO and Johann Minnaar, Network manager at HouseME, Smart Property Rental for Landlords and Tenants.

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

It’s safe to say that the first-ever photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras) is absolutely rubbish. It took Joseph Niépce several days of exposure in a camera to produce a truly awful photograph. Not even touch-ups can salvage it.

Many years later came motion-picture film. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the first ever film (The Roundhay Garden Scene) is 2.11 seconds long and, yes, it’s absolutely rubbish too. I’ve watched it 17 times already and cannot find one redeeming feature.

It’s been about 200 years since Monsieur Niépce snapped the famous View from the Window at Le Gras and luckily times have changed. The power of perfect photography and videography now sits snugly in the palm of your (ideally clean) hands.

In many ways, the advent of photography and film transformed the way in which humans interact with each other. It allows us to capture, share and remember so much more. It brings us closer together even when we are far apart. It permits us to view distant places in vivid life

Alternative ways of showcasing your property will become vital in the coming weeks

South Africa is in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the outlook is still very uncertain. What is certain is we must heed the call of President Cyril Ramaphosa to practice effective social distancing. While video has the power to bring us together, it also has the ability to keep us (physically) apart. And that’s a good thing right now.

HouseME recently unveiled a new catchphrase: Let’s Start Renting Smart. It’s our goal to digitise the residential renting process from start to finish. In an epoch of social distancing, we urge all landlords to reduce physical viewings and replace them with walk-through videos or online viewings using skype, Face-time or WhatsApp video call instead (also see our COVID-19 policy here).

The smartest social behaviour right now is to cancel that lunch-date you have planned and instead take a trip to your rental property for a little film production quarantine time. For motivation, HouseME will be running a competition for the most-viewed video walk-through by a private landlord on YouTube*. Some are calling it the HouseME Motion Picture Awards (HMEMPAs). The winner will get their HouseME Home package for free!

So how can you produce an Oscar-worthy motion picture walk-through of your prized property?

We’ve compiled a few top-tips on mobile phone videos from our learnings over the years:

1. Clean your phone

Yes, that’s right, give it a rub-a-dub-scrub. A 2016 study found that the typical mobile phone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day. That’s bonkers. Your phone has basically been everywhere your hands have been. So wash it.

2. Clear the clutter

Take a few moments to arrange furniture and store unnecessary paraphernalia out of sight. A neat space is more inviting and will help tenants focus on the important aspects of your property.

3. Use landscape mode to showcase your property effectively.

Please leave portrait phone video in 2019. 2020 has been rough enough already. We don’t need portrait videos exacerbating things. Plus, video sharing platforms such as YouTube are made to showcase landscape videos, so uploading a portrait video is a motion-picture crime.

4. Move slowly

The slower the better. If you feel as if any slower would be moving backwards, then that’s the right speed. Remember, this video walk-through must replace an in-person viewing. During an in-person viewing, people are able to stand still and slowly look around, carefully taking in the surroundings.

5. Hold the camera as steady as possible

You’re not creating the next Blair Witch Project. Walking really slowly will help. Pretend you’re balancing an egg on your phone if you like. Actually, balance an egg on your phone for best effect – it will take exceptional technique to win a HMEMPA (HouseME Motion Picture Award).

6. Keep your audience captivated

You have 10 seconds to capture the attention of prospective tenants and to ensure they watch the whole video. Start with the biggest selling points of the property and point out the key features. If you fancy your editing skills, there are plenty of apps available which will allow you to combine and edit multiple videos into a single motion-picture. It’s actually quite fun. Then send us your masterpiece and we will put it onto our YouTube channel.

7. Show everything

Start in one corner of the room and pan to all other corners, then slowly walk across the room to another corner and do the same. A tenant will want to see every part of each room from as many different angles as possible. Remember to zoom in on important features.

8. Use natural light

We’ve all seen photos of rental properties taken at night and the pictures always look as bad as Joseph Niépce’s View from the Window at Le Gras. Our in-house photographer highly recommends that you plan to produce your motion picture at the time of the day when natural lighting is best for your property – generally when most of the house gets some early morning or late afternoon sun. If in doubt, the middle of a sunny day will work well too.

9. Don’t forget the outside areas

Remember to show the building from the street, the garage, the walk to the front door, the view out of the windows and any communal areas such as braai facilities or the swimming pool. Selecting a place to live is a big decision and tenants need to be able to consider every aspect of the place they will come home to each day.

10. Don’t forget to speak

A picture is worth a thousand words and a video allows you to say a thousand words. Give tenants some context of the surroundings as you are walking around so that they can start picturing themselves living there. Use this opportunity to tell tenants why your property might be perfect for them.

11. Move slowly

Yes, this is so important it gets mentioned again. Channel Billy Porter at the 2020 Grammys, not Usain Bolt at the 2012 Olympics.

If the 2.11 second Roundhay Garden Scene can get close to 1.5 million views on YouTube, just imagine how your modern-day video walk-through could perform?

Calling All Landlords to Enter The HouseME Motion Picture Awards (HMEMPA)

If you’re a HouseME landlord, send us your best motion picture takes so that we can share them with interested tenants. You’ll also be entered into HMEMPA (The HouseME Motion Picture Awards) for a chance to win your HouseME Home Package for free! If you’re not yet a HouseME landlord, check out our awesome packages here.

Let’s use the technology at our finger-tips to continue renting while fighting the spread of Covid-19 at the same time. Let’s also clean our finger-tips regularly. Let’s start renting smart.

*Send us your full video walk-through to ask@house.me by using https://wetransfer.com/. We will then upload it to our YouTube Channel and we’ll share the link with you and with your interested tenants. Later this year we will award a lucky landlord a free HouseME Home Package for the most YouTube views. T&C’s apply.



About HouseME: 

HouseME Founders Ben Shaw and Kyle Bradley

We’re on a mission to transform residential renting using technology and placing data-centric decision making at its heart. We’re committed to be the smartest way to rent, for landlords and tenants alike, making the whole process fair and stress-free. Register here and start renting smart. 


 HouseME’s Co-Founders, Kyle Bradley and Ben Shaw.


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