While it was becoming increasingly important for businesses to have an online presence before the pandemic, today it is an absolute necessity. We all know the advantages of having 24/7 reach, potentially around the globe. Anikio is, at its core, a business about improving the online experience, primarily in rentals and real estate. And so we’re well acquainted with one of the largest downsides of being online: the loss of interaction with customers.
Customer Interaction on the Internet
Customer interaction on the internet – learning meaningful information on your customer’s experience with your business or products – comes from just a few mechanisms:
Contact forms and chat/messenger options.
Social media presence and posts.
For a realtor, viewings and open houses can provide important feedback that may help ultimately sell the home. But what happens when those listings increasingly become virtual, when potentially 2/3 of those who look at the listing online never decide to reach out? They don’t fill out a form, comment on social media, etc? For that, we have to rely on analytics.
That’s why we’re pleased to be able to offer tie-ins with Google Analytics for virtual tours. While we can’t show what specific people look at or think, analytics allows us to get a sense of what potential clients, over a given period of time, are looking at, what they’re interacting with, and can offer insights into what is popular or overlooked when people are touring your property.
Example of Using Analytics in a Virtual Tour
Take the example above. The user starts the tour outside (therefore, the largest circle). From there, most people go through the foyer and on to the dining room. A few go up into the sky for an aerial view and ultimately end up on the rooftop patio and top floor (not shown).
Relatively few people go through the garage overhead door (to the right). Most people that look through the garage come from the mudroom, to the right of the foyer. They stand on the steps and look in but most don’t venture further. Even those that come in through the double door on the garage instead seem to bypass that middle hotspot, for the most part, and hop right up to the door to the mudroom.
Acting on Insights
If we had something we really wanted to point out in that central hotspot, we might want to make sure it was prominent, maybe remove the ability to jump over it when coming from the overhead door into the house so that more people would see that feature. As a realtor, you might spend a bit more time marketing that feature since it is being overlooked in the walkthrough.
On the other hand, you might look at where people are being most engaged in the virtual tour and spend your marketing efforts on that. In our dive into the analytics of this virtual tour, for example, we saw that more people looked to see more information about the fireplace than any other feature in the home. The fireplace was attracting a lot of attention. Promoting the fireplace on social media, it stands to reason, might also garner more attention for this listing.
Analytics for Others
What if, instead of a realtor, this tour was used for a showhome. The architect or builder might use this to get an idea of where a layout isn’t flowing well and tweak the floorplan for the next build. Or, like the realtor above, might be surprised at how much interest the fireplace is attracting and choose to incorporate that brand or style of fireplace in more designs in the future.
The insights may be very different if this had been an business such as a shop or restaurant. But the more we can learn about our customers, the more we can make sure they have the best possible experience when they’re interacting with our online businesses.
Recently, we announced our capability to offer Live Guided Tours and Google Street View integration. Today, we’re announcing another exciting feature: Live Panoramas! Bring a scene to life and see your location in a whole new light! Live panoramas can be included in a virtual tour to showcase spectacular scenes, lighting, or any major difference in a location. Summer to winter. Render to actual. Crowded to empty. The result is captivating. While you’re having a look around, you’ll see the scenery change and slowly evolve.
This is a capability we’re proud to introduce to Saskatchewan in our continuing effort to revolutionize what virtual tours can do.
Why Include a Live Panorama?
In the example above, we have a home with a well-lit deck (plus Christmas lights) with western exposure. So we can showcase one of the best aspects – the sunset – and have it slowly introduced into the scene. This unexpected transition adds a sense of ‘wow’ to the view they were already looking at. It takes a throwaway line about western exposure in the description and brings it to life.
Where Else Would Live Panoramas Be Used?
There are more possibilities than we have the space – or even imagination – to list. Anywhere that a meaningful or impactful transition can highlight an exciting features about a location is a great candidate for a live panorama.
Above we showed a day-sunset-night transition to show the different lighting and western exposure. But we could just as easily be showing:
A theatre stage in different configurations
A patio with shade or screens up and down
A restaurant during the day and evening
A lounge that becomes a bar at night
A tourist attraction in winter and summer
A construction project before and after completion
Layered Tours: Another Option
Sometimes, it makes more sense to let the viewer control which scene they are viewing. So we can also create layered virtual tours where the entire location is filmed in various states.
For example, imagine you maintain an outdoor trail that is used for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. The user can view the whole trail in summer mode and never see a snowflake unless they clicked a button to change to winter time. In fact, with our deep linking, you could even provide a different link directly to summer and winter time depending on the season!
Or a tour of a finished home. Click a button and see the same tour except while the house is under construction. If your architect has a 3D CAD rendering of the home, we could even integrate those rendering into another layer on the same tour.
More Features To Come
We’re not done telling you about all the amazing capabilities our virtual tours have. Not by a long shot. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!
With Anikio’s virtual tours, the options are limited only by your imagination!
We’re really excited to introduce a feature to our virtual tours that makes the post COVID world feel a little bit more like it used to. Thanks to our new virtual tour engine, Anikio’s Live Guided Tours allow our customers to take clients, students or colleagues on a virtual walk-through that truly is shared. Live-Guided Tours allow you to have a video conference inside of a virtual tour, turning virtual tours into real experiences and adding a personal touch whether it’s a one-on-one call or a virtual field trip.
What Are Live Guided Tours?
This is more than screen sharing. Now, you can take your guests “by the hand” on a 360 degree virtual tour. As you turn to look at a feature you want to show off or walk into the next room, your guests will see exactly what you see. Or, if you grant permission, they can show you around to ask questions as they go. Synchronizing where you look, you can take turns on controlling the virtual tour. And of course, guests can be allowed to “unhook” from that and take a closer look where THEY want while you’re talking with each other. With a simple button click they hook back onto where the host is (equally, the host can force any guest to join back into their viewpoint with a button click).
The host (whether you’re a landlord, realtor, teacher, or business owner) can point out areas of interest and discuss what’s being seen in 360º by everybody in real time. The guest can follow where the host takes him, look around on his own or ask for permission to control the tour for everybody as if he were the host.
And as host, you set the parameters for your experience. Are users allowed to unhook? Ask for control? Can they hear each other or just you? So if you’re a realtor doing a walk through to introduce 20 other realtors to a new listing, you can turn on presentation mode. 30 seconds after that’s finished, you can do a one-on-one with a potential buyer… without waiting for the realtors to leave or driving across town.
Of course, your guests can still view the tour on their own. But if you really want to walk through and help them understand the potential of the space, now you have the option to do that virtually!
And Live Guided Tours are accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, so your clients can dial in from their mobile phones as well.
How It Works
First of all, we have to create the account and credentials for you to act as host of the tour. Let us know that you’d like to have Live Guided Tours when we create your virtual tour and we’ll set everything up for you.
Already have an Anikio virtual tour? No problem! We can add this capability to an existing tour as well!
Once we’ve published your virtual tour, you will receive credentials to sign on as a host. Now you’ve opened the line and guests visiting your virtual tour will see that a Live Guided Tour is available and and join the session.
All you need to do is right-click on your virtual tour and select “Start Live Guided Tour”. You’ll be asked for the name you wish to display as well as the password that Anikio provided.
NOTE: Anyone currently viewing the virtual tour when you log in will not be able to see that you’re available to host until they refresh or re-open the tour.
The first time, you will be quickly shown a few windows that explain the buttons and options available as host. Make sure you read through them, they do a much better job explaining than we are here! There are several different modes you can choose that determine how much interaction guests are allowed with you, the tour, and other guests.
Notifications and Permissions
Once you’re through these explanation windows, you’re ready to be called. Make sure your settings allow for notifications in your browser. Otherwise, you won’t be able to be notified of an incoming call.
In your browser, you’ll also need to give permission to access the camera and microphone. The browser system will ask you this automatically the first time that somebody calls you. Make sure you click “Allow” to grant access in the permission window. Even if you opt to not use your webcam for this guest (a separate setting) allowing access now will save you some digging into the permissions later. You can of course grant or revoke this permission in your browser settings at all times.
Should you not see this window or accidentally deny permission, you can go to your browser settings, search for the term “camera” and under “Site Settings” and edit the sites that block and allow your camera access. This is the case for both host and guests accessing Live Guided Tours.
Guests will only be able to call when there is a host logged in and Do Not Disturb is turned off. As soon as the host has logged in, any new visitor of the virtual tour will see the option to “START LIVE SESSION” on the top of the screen as shown below.
When clicked, the guest will be asked to give their name. Then, just click “Connect” to call in to the Live Session. Make sure to grant permission to your camera and microphone.
NOTE: If the guest opens the tour before the host has logged in, the guest will need to refresh their browser (F5 key or ) to see this option.
When a guest first enters the tour, they’ll also be shown a welcome screen with instructions on how to use the tour.
And that’s it. Ready to explore, show, guide and talk – together.
Real estate showings – accompanied and guided. Virtual field trips to the Western Development Museum or the Remai Modern Art Gallery. Personalized sales presentations and virtual showrooms staffed with actual humans. Virtual group plant visits with colleagues from all over the world. You name it. We’ll make it happen!
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:
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?
Have a complete listing with all necessary information available (allow tenants to pre-screen);
Have clear, large photos that clearly show the suite, layout, and condition;
Offer a virtual, online viewing: consider a virtual tour or film your own video tour with your cell phone and post on YouTube;
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);
Share your application form online (Anikio allows you to save it to your listing) or use an online screening service;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the 2019 Federal Election approaching, the promises are flying fast and furious. Here is a look at some of the planks we think are going to be most important for our users, here in Saskatchewan, with an emphasis on issues related to housing, mortgages, and property ownership. As Saskatoon has a large proportion of student renters, we also included issues related to student housing, primarily around student finances, and public transportation.
So to summarize, the promises we’ve gathered below are those we feel are important for Saskatchewan landlords and tenants and related to:
Housing construction, improvement, and retrofits;
Income and taxes;
Student financial issues; and
It’s still early and we’ll do our best to add proposals and platforms that fit in the above categories as they come in. We’re not advocating for one party or the other here, you can make up your own mind, the intent is just to lay out what is out there in a simple list.
Prioritize social infrastructure spending for affordable housing and seniors facilities
Eliminate all GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing
Introduce a 1% annual tax on foreign-owned residential properties owned
Free energy audit to help homeowners and landlords determine ways to make more homes more efficient
Interest-free loan of up to $40,000 to help finance energy efficient renovations
Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5000 for homes that are certified zero-emissions
Institute a $15/hr federal minimum wage
Additional $3B/year in transit funding for cities
End stress tests on switching a mortgage to a different lender (i.e. rate shopping)
Institute a 2-year tax credit for energy-saving renovations
No more GST or carbon tax on home heating and energy bills
Lower the income tax on income under $47,630 from 15% to 13.75%
Restore the public transit tax credit of up to 15% on weekly/monthly transit passes
Re-introduce 30-year CMHC-insured mortgages for first time home buyers
Double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit (to $1500)
Create a 15% foreign buyers tax on purchases of residential property
Remove GST on the construction of new rental units
Target the green retrofit of all housing in Canada by 2050 using low-interest loans to incentivize upgraded better insulation, windows, heat pumps, etc.
Create 500,000 units of affordable housing in the next 10 years
Add $5 billion to spending on affordable housing in first 18 months in office
Invest $40 million over four years in the Shelter Enhancement Program
Institute a $15/hr federal minimum wage
Eliminate unpaid internships (except as part of an educational program)
Force equal compensation for part-time and contract workers to full-time workers
Eliminate interest on federal portion of student loans
Move away from loans by increasing access to Canada Student Grants
Modernize and expand public transit with an emphasis on electrification and funding
Mortgage, construction/retrofits, taxes, students, public transit
Get rid of the first-time home buyer grant
Improve Indigenous organization access to financing through CMHC
Restore tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing
Change the national building code to require new construction to meet net-zero emission standards by 2030
Remove “deemed” GST when a developer with empty condo units puts them on the rental market
Institute a $15/hr federal minimum wage
Establish a Guaranteed Liveable Income program to replace various income support programs
Allocate one per cent of GST to housing and other municipal infrastructure
Appoint a Minister of Housing
Legislate that housing is a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians and permanent residents
Increase the National Housing Co-investment Fund by $750 million for new builds, and the Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million for rent assistance for 125,000 households
Eliminate post-secondary education tuition
Forgive existing student debt held by federal government
Fund the re-routing of tracks for freight and rail yards away from populated areas
When it comes to marketing your property, nothing makes a bigger impact on the first impression than the visuals you use in your listing. Photos, videos, and even virtual tours can mean the different between finding a good tenant right away or having a vacant property for 1-2 months. Anikio offers professional photography and virtual tours, but whether you’re planning to shoot your own photos or use a professional, here are some things that will make sure you get the best results possible before you take off that lens cap:
Preparing Your Property
Fix/Patch – Good photos should last you through many tenants. Make sure that suite repairs, patches, and fixes are done. Just like you’re looking for a reliable tenant that will pay on time, tenants want reliable landlords that make repairs promptly. Photos of walls (or doors) with holes, cupboards missing doors, or half-completed renovations don’t give a good impression even if you are in the middle of repairing them.
Don’t Forget Outside – It’s always a good idea to have at least one exterior photo. Make sure the yard, deck, and porch are in good condition (grass cut, snow shoveled, garbage bins tucked away).
Replace Burned-Out Bulbs – Now that your place is patched and fixed, don’t forget to make sure that all your bulbs are installed and working. When you take a picture, what you’re really doing is capturing light from the scene. Less light, less great of a photo. And again, it speaks to how well the property is maintained. Try to keep all the same colour temperature (also called warmth) in one room. Daylight photographs best in rooms with windows.
Put Stuff Away – Loose items like vacuum cleaner hoses, rags, things left behind from the previous tenant, etc. should be neatly put away in their usual storage place. This will save you having professional photos shot only to find a dirty rag sitting on top of your washer/dryer.
Clean – Hopefully the suite was cleaned when the previous tenants left, but if they missed a few things (or you made some dust in the previous three steps) take the time to clean up floors, baseboards, etc. and make everything look its best. Again, it’s a bit of pain now for photos that can last many years.
Lights! Get all the lights on, even the ones in adjacent rooms, on the porch, etc. Light makes your place feel more warm and welcoming but it also makes your photo results better. Cameras adjust to low light by a combination of leaving the shutter open longer or increasing the ISO. The longer the shutter is open, the more likely the image will be blurry from your hand shaking. This can be combatted by using a tripod. As for increasing the ISO, what this really means is a more grainy and less clear photo. The smaller the camera (for example if you’re using your phone) the less it is able to deal with low light.
Blinds! Open all the blinds. Again, you want to let in as much light as possible for your photo. This part can be a bit tricky, though. If you are shooting a scene with open blinds and the sun streaming in, the camera can think the picture is too bright and make everything dark inside so that the scene outside the window is exposed correctly. On most cameras you can adjust the exposure (for example, on an iPhone, click the light icon on the yellow box and drag up to brighten the image) so that the inside is exposed correctly. This may result in a very white/bright window. Optionally, try to shoot with your back to the window to use all that light to your advantage, or if you have a HDR-capable camera (and tripod!) you may be able to get several photos of the same scene at different exposures and put them together to better replicate the dynamic range (from darkest to brightest) that the human eye can resolve.
Camera! Modern phones have better and better cameras and AI all the time. These days, with enough light, you can get perfectly acceptable photos with a phone camera and occasional use of the panorama feature. However, nothing beats a nice big wide-angle lens on an SLR camera for collecting more light in the same scene. And don’t forget about a tripod for sharp, clear, low-noise photos in even dark rooms. As mentioned above, the tripod is also critical for shooting HDR photos that extend the range between the blackest black and whitest white to allow more of the image to shine through.
Action! Where possible, try to take your photos in landscape (wide) format instead of tall. This shows a more natural view of how people see the world and gives more of a sense of seeing a complete picture. Portrait (tall) photos are useful in small spaces but when used in large rooms, they can make it look like you’re trying to hide something. Photos look best on Anikio when they are cropped to a 16×9 widescreen format, but standard straight-out-of camera photos will work with no cropping also. If you know a bit about photography, you may also wish to do some post-processing of the photos, making sure the white balance is accurate, putting together your HDR photos and panoramas, and double-checking that the photos look as good and as accurate as possible.