How to use video for leasing in lockdown: Marcel Dybner

Melbourne-based Besser + Co partner and property manager Marcel Dybner has revealed how using videos to lease properties has helped maintain his business while in lockdown.

Victorian lockdown restrictions have stopped anybody from physically viewing a property, but Mr Dybner has found video walk-throughs to be their saving grace.

“We’re not allowed to show anybody through a property. We can’t do any open for inspections, we can’t do anything,” Mr Dybner said.

“The only way people can view a property is literally by being online. We’re really focusing on doing everything that we can to make sure our clients get their properties leased with the restrictions that we’ve got at the moment.”

While landlords are happy to try any alternatives and let the agency take the lead, tenants have been more hesitant.

“We’ve got tenants who need to move out of places but they’re really wary without seeing it,” Mr Dybner explained.

“From a tenant’s perspective, there are hesitations on the shorter lockdowns but the longer they seem to last, the more comfortable people get to apply for a property based on a video, photos and floor-plan.

“So if we can do anything to make them more comfortable with making that decision, then we’re more likely to lease to that tenant than an agent who doesn’t have video. The feedback has been great.”

Seeing real results

The team has leased 14 apartments so far while in the latest lockdown, and Mr Dybner was confident they would see several more before the end of the month.

All of them have been done by tenants looking at the videos online and then submitting their application online, so they can do the paperwork digitally as well,” he said.

“People are out there are looking. We’ve had 2600 views across our videos in the last 28 days. That’s significantly more people than we could get into properties at any stage.”

One of Besser + Co’s biggest successes so far was an apartment in Prahran, near South Yarra. After putting the video up in the morning, the team had three applications by that same afternoon.

“We leased within 24 hours,” Mr Dybner said.

“Nobody is waiting for an inspection day. People are in bed in the morning, scrolling through the websites, watching the video, putting the application in. It can happen really quickly.”

This property (406/201 High Street, Prahran) was leased within 24-hours

Tips for success

Mr Dybner explained he would typically do a long, one-take shot of the entire apartment or home, starting from the entranceway or hallway.

“The videos range from three to five minutes, depending on the size of the property. It’s one take, a one non-stop video of walking through, trying to mimic how a tenant would walk through the property and what they would focus on,” he said.

“You walk through the front down and pan down to the carpets, up to the ceiling. I’ll spend a bit of time on the kitchen. I’ll show the dishwasher and open it up, show where the laundry is, air-conditioning, the bedrooms, the cupboards, it’s really important to show the storage the property has.

“Any of the benefits, you kind of spend a little more time with. You want to be detailed but not so detailed that it’s a 30-minute video.”

But while the filming process seems quite simple to master, Mr Dybner revealed he had seen quite a lot of other videos that didn’t hit the mark.

“I’ve noticed some other agents doing videos and the apartments are dark, they’re not using a Gimbal or anything, they’re just freeloading an iPhone so its all shaky,” he said.

“So you kind of get a bit sick watching the videos. It doesn’t give you a good idea of what the property is like.”

In the last lockdown, the Besser + Co team invested in iPhone gimbals to maintain smooth footage.

Mr Dybner said they had seen direct results from the investment, with realestate.com.au data showing they had more engagement, people spending more time on the ads and additional inquiries.

He also shared some additional tips and tricks that the team have picked up over Melbourne’s many lockdowns.

“We make sure we either film the property when there’s good lighting, if there’s a lot of natural light or we get the electricity connected just to make sure it’s nice and bright, so you can actually showcase what the property is,” he said.

“We go through first, make sure all the blinds are up, the toilet seats are down, open all the doors we need to open up so everything is kind of ready.

“I’ll also go through a run-through first of how I think we should navigate through the video.”

While Mr Dybner emphasised video should highlight the best parts of the property, he doesn’t use the forced perspective to skip over any negative elements.

“I don’t hide anything but I don’t highlight it,” he explained.

Mr Dybner also explained they only upload the videos to the real estate platforms and YouTube, rather than cross-posting to other social media. 

He recommended editing the application code into the video.

“It gives us the confidence to know the tenant has watched the video, they’re happy with what they’ve seen and they’re happy to proceed with an application.” 

Is the future digital?

While the team have been seeing significant success during lockdown, Mr Dybner doesn’t believe this while be an ongoing phenomenon.

“I don’t find them as effective during non-lockdown periods but during lockdown periods, they’re a must. It’s literally the only way we could lease anything,” he said.

“We’ve been doing this for over a year. Since the first lockdowns in Victoria, we started doing the videos. I’ve found once people are able to inspect [physically], they want to come and inspect the properties.”

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Jessamy Tredinnick

Jessamy Tredinnick was the news journalist for Elite Agent Magazine from June 2021 - October 2021. For current stories, news alerts or pitches, please email editor@eliteagent.com.au.