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Reducing Corona Virus Spread in the Housing Rental Community

From Wuhan to Saskatchewan, the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is spreading across the globe. No matter where you live, the fact is that everyone needs somewhere to live. Renting can’t come to a stop, pandemic or no. So I’ve created this post to start the conversation about ways that we can all work together, property managers, landlords and tenants, to reduce the spread and stay healthy and safe. The content below is the opinion of the author and should be considered supplemental and secondary to any and all official guidelines from Health Canada and similar governmental agencies. Where possible, we’ve done our best to seek out guidelines and expertise already in place from official sources.

Disclaimer noted, we’ve developed some guidelines and points for consideration:

  1. Tenants
  2. Landlords and Property Managers

Before you branch off, though, here are some great resources and reading to help you understand the state of COVID-19 in Canada, the world, and the importance of precautions:

NOTE: The ORT (Office of Residential Tenancies or the Rentalsman) will be conducting hearings by telephone only, effective March 16, 2020 in Saskatoon and Regina. 

 

Guide to Reducing Corona Virus Spread for Landlords and Property Managers

The Institute of Real Estate Managers has released a Pandemic Guide which has some valuable information, particularly for multiplex managers.

Keeping Common Areas Clean

If you manage a multi-family dwelling, ensure that common areas are sanitized – particularly high touch points like door handles and bannisters – as much as possible and at least once daily. Encourage your tenants to avoid congregating in common areas at the same time and consider sending a notification of what you are doing and best practices for them to employ. If the common areas are not strictly necessary (party rooms, gyms, etc), consider closing them until the risk level has subsided. Consider a plan for if maintenance or cleaning staff are required to isolate themselves. If buildings include a concierge or anyone regularly in contact with tenants, consider ways that the risk to them is minimized.  

Viewings and Finding Renters

Best Practices for Viewings

The safest practice is to simply put off all tenant searching until the pandemic has broken and things have returned to normal. However, this is probably not practical for most so long as the bills keep coming in. It also could result in stranding a portion of the population that has given notice elsewhere but not yet found a place to rent, which would be disastrous. Be sure to maximize your distance and even conduct as much of the conversation outdoors as weather permits; avoid handshakes and contact. And this goes without saying: if you have a sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, or any other symptoms of coronavirus and have been in contact with anyone that has the corona virus in the past two weeks, stay home and isolate yourself.

So while we accept that in-person viewings are likely to continue, we strongly recommend against conducting viewings of occupied suites while the corona virus is spreading. It only takes one infected stranger in a home to contaminate and potentially infect multiple people – not to mention that those current tenants also need to leave and find somewhere safe to go during that time when we’re all being asked to remain home as much as possible. We recognize that this is not ideal and will likely result in at least one month of vacancy, but it is the right thing to do at this time. Consider it time to make some touch-ups, updates, and repairs.  If you simply will not or cannot halt viewings, consider a virtual tour to limit the number of times your tenants must have potentially infectious persons in their home.

If you must continue with viewings and your tenant search, we recommend that you do not conduct in-person viewings until as much pre-screening as possible has been completed.

Pre-Screening to Minimize Contact

If you are actively searching for a renter, then you are going to come into contact with people. You may meet multiple potential tenants, some of whom may become applicants and one of whom may become your new tenant. You may also be into a currently occupied suite and meet with your outbound tenants multiple times during this search. The best practice, aside from a complete stoppage in viewings, is to make the number of in-person interactions as close as possible to zero. Ideally, you would only meet the to-be-accepted applicant and the rest would be pre-screened before ever stepping foot on the property. How can we accomplish that?

  1. Have a complete listing with all necessary information available (allow tenants to pre-screen);
  2. Have clear, large photos that clearly show the suite, layout, and condition;
  3. Offer a virtual, online viewing: consider a virtual tour or film your own video tour with your cell phone and post on YouTube;
  4. Conduct an initial FaceTime, Skype, or other Video Chat meet-and-greet (you could even arrange this to be at the rental to show it);
  5. Share your application form online (Anikio allows you to save it to your listing) or use an online screening service;
  6. If the application is valid and the tenant is still interested, THEN organize an in-person meeting and viewing to make the application official.

We want to do our part and are offering free consultation on rental ads posted to Anikio during this pandemic. Simply contact us to get help making your listing as complete as possible. We are also happy to help those creating their own video tours or taking their own photos in any way we can, again at no charge. Finally, we also continue to offer professional-grade rental photography and virtual tour creation to maximize your pre-screening efforts.

Rent and Notice Considerations

Reach out to your tenants to let them know what steps is any you are taking to ensure their rental remains safe, and ask them to reach out to you should anything come up that could compromise their ability to fulfill their obligations as tenants. Everyone should have a contact in the city to help them should they need assistance during this time, if it is in your power to be a contact for your tenant then consider doing so. Regardless, keep the line of communications open and consider that a two-week absence from their work may be enough to severely limit their well-being and ability to pay rent. Consider extensions and partial payments but always be sure to have any arrangement in writing.

If a tenant has given notice, reach out to ask if they have found a place or would like to consider extending their tenancy until the corona virus threat has subsided. Be sure, again and always, to have any agreement in writing and consider putting a finite time (one month or two months) on the extension. As mentioned above, we strongly urge against conducting viewings of occupied suites while the corona virus is spreading.

Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that there will be relief measures to reduce the financial burden but hasn’t defined them at this point. Italy, for example, has instructed banks to not collect mortgage payments during their shut down and landlords not to collect rent. This can be more complex an issue when rent includes utilities but certainly can relieve some of the strain on individuals during a difficult time should it come into place. More likely in Canada, those that have tested positive for the virus or have been temporarily laid off will have access to emergency funding through the EI program but that remains to be seen.

Tenant’s Guide to Reducing Corona Virus Spread

Covid-19 Infographic

Stay in Contact with Your Landlord

No matter what, you should have a ‘buddy’ in the city that can assist should you be unable to leave your home (and vice versa). It’s also a good idea to keep in contact with your landlord or property manager. You’re under no obligation to notify your landlord or property manager if you have the corona virus but you definitely should. In addition to self isolation, it’s the responsible thing to do for you and any others in the same building. Maintaining an open line of communication can also help should a complication arise that leaves you, for example, unable to pay rent on time. A landlord informed in advance should be much more forgiving and willing to work with you than one that has to contact you to find out what happened to the rent. Moreover, being as straightforward with your landlord, even if you don’t expect them to be understanding, will be to your benefit should you end up at the rentalsman.

Roommates

Living with roommates, any one of you becoming sick is cause enough for all of you to self isolate. If you are the one to develop symptoms, self-assess (check the province’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine if your symptoms could be coronavirus and to organize a test. The province notes that if you have not been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19 or that has returned from an international travel, you currently do not need to test but expect this to change within the next week or two as more community cases are likely to arrive. If you are in a position where a test is merited, everyone in that house should isolate themselves until a negative test result is received (i.e. you do not have the virus). Your roommates will need to be notified immediately. Should you have the virus, everyone in the house should remain isolated for two weeks even if they do not have symptoms; it is possible for COVID-19 to spread even among asymptomatic people that have been exposed. In the meantime, all common areas must be sanitized regularly and any symptomatic roommates must isolate from healthy but at-risk roommates to avoid spreading. Consider scheduling use of common areas like kitchens to minimize contact. Sanitize shared surfaces and items thoroughly.

Apartment Dwellings

Even if your property manager hasn’t closed off common areas like gyms, stay away. Be cautious of door handles, keypads, bannisters, and any other frequent touch point and do your best to avoid or immediately wash or sanitize your hands if you must touch those surfaces. Do not touch your face until after you have cleaned your hands.

Searching for a Rental

The safest practice is to simply put off all rental searching until the pandemic has broken and things have returned to normal. If you’ve already given your landlord notice, consider contacting them to see about extending your tenancy until the outbreak has passed. As always, get anything relating to your tenancy in writing.

If you must move, do yourself a favour and screen meticulously before going to a viewing. Read the listings carefully, look at all photos, take the virtual tour or video walkthrough if available (ask for one if it’s not), and then contact the landlord or property manager to ask any questions you have if you’re still interested. Ask to see a copy of their application form in advance of meeting and consider having a video chat (FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, and so on) to have an initial face-to-face chat and ask any questions you still have. The point is to minimize your viewings and in-person contact with others. 

When you meet in person, don’t shake hands and maintain a bit of space to minimize contact. Bring your own pen to sign anything you may need to.

Viewings of Your Current Tenancy

If you’ve given notice and are determined to move, ask your landlord if they’d consider not having showings of your place during the outbreak. They are under no obligation to do so but it is best practice to minimize potential contamination of your home while you’re living there.

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New Photo Portfolio

Anikio Real Estate Photography Portfolio

When people are looking for photographers, what’s one thing they want to see? Examples of their work! Our photography work is all over the site, but mixed in with others’ photos (look for the Anikio watermark). Worse, it comes and goes as property is rented and new properties get listed or re-listed. And some of the work we do for real estate agents never sees Anikio.com. The solution was simple… we needed to have a portfolio!

Over the past few days, I’ve been combing through the almost 2000 photos that we’ve taken in the past year. My goal was to narrow it down to 6 photos (because we can fit three nicely sized photos side-by-side on a computer monitor) for each type of room. I also wanted to show some examples of digital staging and some of my hobby photography, too. If you’re going to hire a photographer, they should have some interest in photography outside of work!

Mission accomplished. Our portfolio went live yesterday. Have a look! What I noticed when I was short listing is that I found the majority of the photos I had chosen were from properties with some furniture in them. That isn’t a surprise, we’ve long known the value of staging but it was interesting to see it, unintended, in the results of my own searching! I tried to also include at least one empty room in each just to show that yes, we can do that, too.

I hope this will help convert a few more visitors looking specifically for real estate or rental photography into customers. Ultimately, that should mean more rental listings. Options are getting a little sparse again! Our collective vacancy rate is approximately 4%, so at least we’ve below the 5.7% average in Saskatoon.

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Similar Property Recommendations

Yesterday, I was running through analysis of user flow through the site. This analysis shows anonymized data that lets us understand how users interact with the site, where they come in, where they go, and when they close the window or move elsewhere. Obviously, the more time a user spends on the site, the better chance that they’ll find a property that suits their needs. And the better chance for landlords to have their property seen.

Part of the power of Anikio is the amazing search capabilities, which is designed at the outset to make sure users see what they’re looking for. But not all of our users come to Anikio through the homepage or even use the search function. For example, they might see a listing shared on social media and click to go right to that listing. At that point, we have no idea what they’re looking for, our best guess is that the property they’re looking at is of enough interest to have brought them over. The question I had was how do these users interact with the site?

What the analysis showed us is that, for people people coming to Anikio on a specific property page, most look at that listing and then leave. Some do go to the home page, click on the Properties button in the menu, etc. but far too many look at one place and leave. This is good for nobody!

So today we’ve rolled out a new feature for listings. At the bottom of each listing, we now – as of this afternoon –  recommend a few similar properties. Someone looking at a downtown property might be interested in seeing other downtown units that are in a similar price range, for example. Unfortunately, there’s still some work to do to make this happen on mobile but that’s coming. Hopefully, this will result in a better experience for everyone! As a side note, we expect that it will help improve our ranking for each listing with search engines. And all this just in time for the weekend. Enjoy! 🙂

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Moving on Up

up-logo-uniting-the-prairies

Today we registered to attend UP and we’re pretty excited for it! While we haven’t attended before, there’s a pretty interesting program and will likely be a good turnout among the local tech startup scene as well as venture capitalists, angel investors, and others in the space. So it’s a great chance to meet some really interesting, dynamic people, learn some things about starting, and hear some of the great things others are doing to get a business going. If you’ll be there, we’d love to hear about it. And if you’re interested, I’ll post a  link below where you can get tickets – there’s an early bird sale on right now, you just need this code: EarlyBirdGetsTheWorm.

Get Tickets

For your reference, I’ve pasted the program below also. Note there’s a private event 5-9:30 for specially invited founders on Wednesday. So far we aren’t on that list, but just FYI in case you happen to be a founder and reading this.

Thursday (May 7)

7:30am – 8:30am

  • Breakfast (Provided)

8:30am – 9:15am

  • Golden Handcuffs

9:30am – 10:15am (Choose One)

  • Topic #1: A Partnership By Any Other Name
  • Topic #2: Duolingo for Cross-Functional Teams

10:30am – 11:15am (Choose One)

  • Topic #1: Talk Technical to My Baby
  • Topic #2: SEO Won’t Save You

11:30am – 12:15pm

  • Topic: Data Highway

12:15pm – 1:45pm

  • Lunch Break (Not Provided)
  • A map of the best restaurants in Downtown Saskatoon will be provided

2:00pm – 2:45pm

  • Topic: Strategy after $100M in Revenue

3:00pm – 3:45pm (Choose One)

  • Topic #1: Dude, Where’s My ________: A Story of Communication, Data, and Tracking
  • Topic #2: Big Corp Cheat Sheet

4:00pm – 4:30pm

  • Keynote

4:30pm – 5:00pm

  • Closing Remarks

5:00pm

  • Dinner Break(Not Provided)
  • A map of the best restaurants in Downtown Saskatoon will be provided

8:30pm – Close

  • Afterparty
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February Update

It has been a busy beginning to the 20’s here at Anikio. As usual, we’re reaching out to try to get new landlords on board. We’ll be focusing in February on some of the smaller and most reputable property managers. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about what’s new and improved.

New Video Content

Chalk this up as a fail. Unfortunately our first ‘pro’ project didn’t go very well. Fans will remember our video with my uncle Nick as the first attempt. Amateur but definitely useable. This time, I made all sorts of rookie mistakes. I wore a collared shirt and the lighting from below – great for removing double chins – made it look like my head had been cut-and-pasted on some other body. It was kind of funny, actually, but not in a useable sort of way. The green screen was also probably more than we needed, and somehow I came out looking like a blurry blue alien (see above). Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Also, I’ve discovered that you can’t adlib a script when you talk with your hands and expect to be able to do jump cuts. And finally, I’ve learned what jump cuts are. So you can see, failure silver-lined with lessons and amusement!

CMHC Report

The annual report on the Saskatoon rental market was released in January, but we wanted to go beyond the 2-3 page summary and try to find some insights. As this was our first deep dive, it took some time to find historical vacancy rates and outside contextual information and also to build up some nice infographics for the different looks. And then we swam in numbers from the 30 or so tables of raw data. I’m happy with the result – if you’re logged in, you can see check out the full report in the 2020 update. But I think there’s a lot of room to improve in terms of capturing the independent landlord experience (versus apartment buildings). I hope that as we sign up more independent landlords, we will be able to represent the entire rental universe.

Speed Thrills

January we were really trying to find ways to speed up Anikio; especially our home page. We have done some work with caching – having pre-loaded static content ready to go. We’ve enhanced and compressed every single photo on the site (even the ones you can’t see right now) so that they’re smaller and quicker. And it turns out that the contact forms we use are notorious for slowing things down across the website. So we’ve made adjustments to only load those forms on the pages where they’re needed. You may have noticed that the feedback form in the footer of the website is gone. That’s why. An added bonus, we’ve upgraded our reCAPTCHA to version 3. You no longer have to click a button to prove you’re not a robot, that is now automatically detected and, according to Google, more difficult to fool. So we hope to see less spam and one less click to help connect renters and properties.

Signs of the Times

We have street signs to advertise properties For Rent. So far we’re trying them out and we don’t have many people using the QR codes to go right to the listing. We’re not sure if that’s because they’re too small (so you have to either zoom in or be closer to the sign) or because people don’t know what to do with them. On the plus side, we have gotten feedback that they are being noticed and resulting in calls. So while we haven’t so far pushed the envelope of what a sign can do, at least they’re doing what signs have always done. And, if we may be a little bold, looked good while doing so!

That’s all for now. We have a new ‘staging’ server that will make it much easier to continue updating the site incrementally and with some capabilities. But no spoilers here!

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Saskatoon Rental Market Update for 2020

Saskatoon Vacancy Rate Map By Area - 2018 and 2019

Last week, the CMHC released its annual Rental Market Report. The report, based on October 2019 data, has some good news for local landlords: a decrease in Saskatoon’s overall vacancy rate to 5.7%. That’s down from 8.3% last year, when Saskatoon had the highest vacancy rate of all major Canadian cities. The recent data brings Saskatoon’s vacancy rate below Regina’s for the first time since 2007 and below this year’s new high-vacancy capital: St. John’s, Newfoundland. Within that overall vacancy rate, condominium vacancy declined from 4.7% to 1.7%, even with a 4.4% increase in the number of condos. And townhouse vacancy, also 4.7% last year, dropped to 3.7% this year.

Average rents also increased 2%, bringing rents back to approximately what they were five years ago. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting, property taxes in Saskatoon have increased an average of 4.5% each year. Beyond those highlights, our full report looks at what’s happening in different areas of the city in detail. The full report adds some colour and more detail to the CMHC summary. Download the full report below (you must be a registered Anikio user):

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You Need More Video Content!

These days it’s more important than ever to have video content. Every person with a marketing background of any kind that I talk to says that. I think one of them even had it tattooed somewhere. While I’m a very visual person and definitely understand the importance, I’m not great at taking video of myself. Worse, I have perfectionist tendencies. So even when I DO take some video of day-to-day or clips showing what sort of work we do with our customers, it sits in my ‘not quite done’ pile just long enough to be irrelevant or out-of-date.

The solution? Have someone else that knows what they’re doing (and isn’t obsessive like I am) do it! I met up with Carter Johnson, a local cinematography student at the Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon, and we filmed a few different video clips that I’m hoping will help explain a bit more about who we are at Anikio, what we do, and why we do it. I’m looking forward to seeing the end results!

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Merry Christmas from Anikio!

List Your Property By Christmas to Get 2 Months Free Listing

It has been a year filled with many new challenges, experiences, long nights… and fun! Most of all, it has been a year filled with gracious support, from those willing to try a new way to rent to friends and family sharing the word and passing on our name to others. We’re so grateful to all of you that have supported us this year.

So, our gift to you. If you have a rental property, all you have to do is create your listing by Christmas. Keep it as a draft until you’re ready to publish it. Whenever that may be, you’ll have two months of free listing credits added to your account!

That’s it. No obligation, tricks, payment information, or anything else required. What kind of gift would that be?! You don’t even have to celebrate Christmas; it’s just a gift from us this season.

Sign up to get started (registered users click here)

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For Rent: Street (de)Signs

Anikio For Rent Street Sign

When it comes to finding rentals, our belief is that the internet provides the best tools for your search. Not only can you search from your desk, but you can use Anikio’s great search filters to only show properties that meet your criteria. Plus, you can see high-resolution photos inside and even take a virtual tour. But we also believe in serendipity – being in the right place at the right time for fate to intervene. The parent driving down the street that is thinking they really could use an extra bedroom. Driving across town to work and seeing a sign for a nice-looking home available to rent closer to the office. Or someone that happened to see a sign and then talks a friend looking for somewhere to live. Plus, not everybody has the quick, easy internet access that we take for granted. So with that in mind, we asked Darren – our graphical wizard – to whip up a design of For Rent signs for us.

We’re really happy with how it looks! We can’t wait to see it on the side of the road. We had some other ideas that we kicked around – we wanted a really unique sign. Could we have a QR code that would bring you right to the listing when you point your smartphone camera? Unfortunately for bulk printing, that’s not an option but we do have an idea to potentially make this work. Should we forgo the space for the phone number and instead have a few basic stats? Number of beds/baths? But then the sign might be too cluttered. In the end, as you can see, we stuck with a basic, clear (we hope) sign since people are more likely to be driving by than walking.

There was some internal debate. It’s really important as a startup that landlords know that Anikio helped them find a tenant. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful and those recommendations that “I found a great tenant on Anikio” are SO important. A phone call from a street sign is not likely to link back to Anikio. But we also let landlords post their phone numbers on the listing, and it’s the same issue there. At the end of the day, our job is to help connect great landlords and tenants, though, however that may be.

So, this morning, we just placed our first order for a small batch of For Rent signs to see how they look on the front lawns of rentals. And to get some feedback and real-world use out of them in case we need to make some tweaks. They should be here in a couple weeks and maybe, just maybe, you’ll pass one in your travels. Let us know what you think!

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Can Better Photos REALLY Help Me Find a Tenant Faster?

Side-by-Side-Listings-for-Photo-Impact-Analysis

When it comes to renting property, there are two things that can turn a good investment bad fastest: inadequate tenant screening and vacancy. A month without rent can easily cost $1000 or more in lost rent. Not only that, there’s also the time and money doing showings, interviews, screening and processing applications. And of course advertising your rental. At Anikio, our mission is to make renting as painless as possible when it comes to finding that tenant. One of the best tools that we have is good photos – they do help find tenants faster. In fact, that’s why we offer rental photography service in the first place! We know it makes a difference and we want the best experience not just for landlords, but also tenants trying to decide where to live.

We’ve seen it time and again with landlords that we work with. One landlord went from little to no interest over a 3-week span to having it rented in just days when we took new photos. Another thought she’d have to reduce the rent due to lack of interest at the price point. After replacing her photos with ours, she had multiple qualified applicants to choose from. But it’s one thing to have stories… we wanted hard data to quantify what we were seeing. We wanted to have an unbiased, data-backed answer for your question: Do good photos find tenants faster? How much faster?

The Experiment – One Property, Two Sets of Photos

So how to get this data? The key to any experiment is to isolate the variable, in this case, the quality of the photos, while keep everything else the same. So, we need to list the exact same property at the same time with the only difference being the photos. Thanks to our advanced searching capabilities, it’s too likely that on Anikio both properties would show up side by side (which might spoil the experiment). So we used an online listing site notorious for re-posts and burying listings quickly. One listing used photos taken by us. The other listing used photos that are typical of what we see in the marketplace today, taken by cell phone.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did also have to vary the title enough to ensure people wouldn’t know it was the same listing with a different photo (and thus choose not to open the second listing they saw). But to minimize the impact of that variable, we used the same words in both titles, just in a different order. Stonebridge Townhouse – 3 Bedroom vs. 3-Bed Townhouse in Stonebridge. Both posts were made the same day only a couple hours apart from different accounts to also minimize any variation for timing by day of week or week of year. Here is the day-by-day comparison with screenshots and analysis. Or if you don’t have time, you can skip right to the conclusion.

Day 1: Anikio Photos Take An Early Lead

Less than 24 hours in, we’re already several pages deep – a problem common to traditional listing sites. But the professional photos are off to a good start with almost twice as many views. Do good photos find tenants faster? So far, yes they sure do! It’s also worth noting that the ad directs users to Anikio to take a virtual tour and contact the landlord there, so we can count these replies as people that haven’t read the ad before reaching out. As well, a low number of replies may speak to other factors beyond the photos, so for those two reasons we’re not focused on that as a metric for the photography here.

One other note. We almost always advocate not to use the exterior photo as the feature photo (or thumbnail). Especially for apartments. We made an exception with this property for a couple reasons: First of all, the exterior photo is gorgeous. From the little Christmas tree to the dusk sky and warm lighting, the exterior does more than just show a building, it shows a home. The warm lighting and night sky trigger an innate response to our need for shelter. Secondly, we digitally staged an interior photo showing the living and dining room and kitchen, which would be our first choice for the feature photo. But it didn’t feel like a fair comparison to put up a fully staged AND professional photo against the landlord photo here. It would be a second variable.

Rest assured, we’ll be testing the difference of using an exterior vs interior photo soon. And the difference digital staging makes (about 73% according to one study). Oh, we’re going to have fun!

Photo Comparison Results - Day 1

Photo Comparison Results – Day 1

Day 2: Results Stabilizing

The Anikio photos continue to maintain a healthy lead for professional photos but of course as the listings continue to get buried deeper down (already on page 19!) there are fewer views every day. Where the professional photo listing had a 97% lead in Day 1, that difference has averaged down to 75%. Somewhere between 2/3 – 3/4 is what we would have guessed as a difference the photos make, so it is nice to have our intuition validated.

On the other hand, while the purpose of this test is to talk about photos, we can’t help but point out that thanks to how fast the listings are buried, on Day 2 we only see 38-43% as many views as on Day 1. We’ll keep track of this also going forward.

Photo Comparison Results - Day 2

Photo Comparison Results – Day 2

Day 3: Differential Growing Again in Favour of Professional Photos

While we expected the drop from Day 1’s 97% increase in views for professional photos, what we didn’t expect is a bounce back upwards. But day 3, we did see movement as the professional Anikio photos took an 81% increase in views over the three days. On the views standpoint, that’s only 9 more views for the professional photos and 3 more for the standard ones, so the difference is more pronounced but the numbers are small. We only have 8-13% of the views we got on Day 1.

Photo Comparison Results - Day 3
Photo Comparison Results – Day 3

Day 4: Back to the 90’s

Again the differential is creeping back up towards the differential we saw on day 1. As we dive into the numbers, it’s worth stepping back for a second. Consider how significant a 90% increase in views can be for a landlord. Almost twice as many people. Almost twice as many chances that you not only find a tenant but find a good tenant that will want to stay for a long time. Less risk of choosing someone your gut says no to because you don’t want to miss out on another month’s rent. And less pressure psychologically to reduce the rent unnecessarily. As for views, we’re 4 days in and on page 25 now.

Photo Comparison Results - Day 4
Photo Comparison Results – Day 4

Day 5: Standard Photos Finally Get As Many Views as Professional Photos Had Day 1

The title says it all. Day 5, the standard photo listing views has just crossed the number of views we saw Day 1 with the Anikio photos. Wow! While we’re seeing twice as many views, we’re seeing if, for example, viewer number 65 was the future tenant in both listings, we got to her 5 days sooner with better photos. Do good photos find tenants faster? Five days later, the answer is an even more responding yes.We’re going to skip Day 6 here and go right to Day 7 – one week in – for our conclusion.

Do Professional Photos Help Find Tenants Faster - A Comparison (Day 5)
Photo Comparison Results – Day 5

Conclusion – Professional Photos Make a Huge Difference!

You may not be surprised to find that more people looked at the property with nice photos. However, you may be surprised – as we were – to see how much of a difference it made. Nearly twice as many views over the course of a week! Do good photos find tenants faster? Yes, about twice as fast by that metric. Here’s another metric – it took 5 days for the standard photos to have as many views as we got day 1 with the professional photos. Looking at things that way, it could be argued that good photos find a tenant about 5 times faster.

Cumulative Tenant Views in One Week, Professional vs. Standard Photos

What About Replies?

I said earlier that we aren’t using replies as a way to measure results. The quantity of replies may have more to do with non-photo factors such as the price vs. offering, market conditions, etc. Also, since we also wanted this test to benefit our landlord (this is a real, live property), we directed users on the listing with the professional photos to take the virtual tour and contact the landlord via Anikio. Since the standard photos didn’t show the property in its best light (literally), we didn’t include that message on that listing but decided to handle any replies personally.  So quantity of replies, not relevant.

But the difference in quantity between the two? Absolutely relevant since regardless of those other factors, the only real difference between the two listings is the photos. Especially since we redirected the professional photo inquiries elsewhere, skewing the results in favour of standard photos. This test showed 5 times more responses in the same amount of time. We still ended up with 5 replies for professional (plus an untold more that went on to contact the landlord via Anikio) vs. 1 reply for the standard photos. And the only reply for the standard photos was from someone interested in using the home as a cannabis grow-op. Really!

Why More Replies with Professional Photos?

Photos affect the perceived value of the property and also the landlord’s pride of ownership. $1800 is a fair price for this rental regardless of photos. But more people felt the property with good photos looked worth $1800 rent. And THAT is how photos can also make a difference in how much a property rents for. If, as is the case here, nobody serious contacts the landlord with the standard photos, they may unnecessarily reduce their rent to attract more interest.  Let’s say after one more week, putting us at Dec 2, the landlord with the standard photos lowers the rent $100 to get some interest. They also missed getting a tenant for November, which costs them $1800. So total cost for using poor photos assuming a one-year tenancy? $3000! Plus $1200/year every year after that it rents at the reduced rate. Total cost for photos on this property? $180. The photos paid for themselves in less than 2 months.

Conclusion - Professional Rental Real Estate Photos Result in 94% More Views
Conclusion – Professional Rental Real Estate Photos Result in 94% More Views at End of Week 1

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

Besides this test, we have plenty of experience seeing the difference that good photos make. There’s also plenty of evidence from the world of real estate sales to lean on. Analysis from VHT Studios found that in the real estate world, homes with high quality photography sell 32 percent faster thanks to not only getting more attention but also to higher perceived value reducing haggling and pressure on the home owner to reduce price due to lack of interest. We had a more dramatic result, because decisions on renting are made much faster than purchasing. Not only that, but homes with more photos sell faster, too. A home with one photo spends almost twice as long on the market as a home with 20 photos. And here’s maybe the most important one to consider: homes that include high-quality photography in their listings sell for $3,000-$11,000 more.

The Same Home with Better Photos Sells for More???

Think about that. The same home with better photos sells for a higher price. Doesn’t seem logical, does it? After all, you don’t live in the photos once you purchase the place! But the same is true for rental property, just at a different scale. The same home with better photos rents for a higher price. Why?

  • The perceived value from the tenant is higher. So the property attracts people willing or able to pay a higher amount for their housing out of the gate.
  • Less pressure on the landlord. A property with lots of interest is less likely to have the asking rent reduced or rental incentives added

We’ve all been there, especially with the high vacancy rates of the past few years. When it’s hard to find tenants, the first question landlords ask themselves is: “Should I lower the rent?” Dropping the rent $100/month unnecessarily costs $1200 in lost revenue assuming a one-year tenancy – more for a longer term tenant. On the other hand, hiring Anikio or another professional to take great photos generally costs about 10x less than that! And when the tenant moves out, you can use those photos again, compunding your savings.

Book Your Photos Now

Professional photos are an investment in the success of your property. Like any investment, it’s important to ask what the return is. This testing shows that there is a high likelihood that your property will generate more interest.

You will find a tenant faster by simple virtue of being seen by more potential candidates in a shorter amount of time. We had to wait 5 days to get as many views with the standard photos as we got in 1 day with professional photos. We got at least 5x more replies. That gives a better chance of minimizing vacancy.

Thanks to more interest, you’ll be under less pressure to accept an under-qualified applicant. You may save a month or more of vacancy and be less likely to unnecessarily lower the rent.  And you can use the photos again and again until you make a significant change to the property, so these advantages go forward year after year.