Move over viewings – finding tenants with Instagram TV
We’ve now rented three properties directly from videos. Not only that, but all three were rented WITHOUT a viewing taking place; each tenant was happy to commit on the strength of the video, which goes to show the power of both an engaged social media following and of video over photography.
The first property we rented by video was a live/work house at The Light Works on Blenheim Gardens, just of Brixton Hill SW2: this is the letting that really showed us how powerful video can be when renting property.
Living in California and getting ready to relocate to London, the tenant saw the property on our website, fell in love with the pictures and got in touch. Being unable to view because of his location and unsure of committing on the photos alone, he was also anxious about losing what might be his dream home, so we offered to visit the property again to make a video for him. Delighted with what we sent he immediately made a reservation and moved in a few weeks later on arrival in the UK, with no need for the hassle of temporary accommodation.
Next was an apartment at Rowley Way on the Alexander Road Estate in Kings Cross. This brutalist 1960s icon was designed by the architect Neave Brown and has distinctive stepped buildings that form valleys as they rise up and out from the pedestrian pathways.
Both architect and estate have a significant fanbase and the location often features films and TV shows, most recently the BBC series The Little Drummer Girl. Here we rented a two bedroom apartment to one of the estate’s many admirers who’d seen the video on our Instagram TV channel. They are what we might describe as the archetypal likely tenant: highly creative and with a passion for architecture.
Finally, one of our most favourite contemporary London buildings, Bankside Lofts, directly next door to Tate Modern. The Piers Gough designed, mustard-coloured tower remains as in-demand and relevant today as when it went up in the late 90s with its tall factory-style windows, double height spaces and timeless design. This was another example where the tenant wasn’t local, this time in France but coming to work in the City and needing access to St Paul’s – an easy and fabulous wander over the Millennium Bridge.
To address his concerns about committing from just photos, we offered to shoot a warts’n’all video (you’ll have trouble finding any warts at Bankside Lofts which made the promise a confident one) and, within three hours of WeTransferring the file to him, he’d transferred his reservation deposit to us.
Just in case there’s a part of you wondering whether people end up regretting their decision, let us tell you that the tenant at The Light Works in Brixton has now lived there happily for two years and shows no signs of wanting to leave.
So it’s clear that renting a property in London has evolved. Particularly in such an international city with some extremely busy people – and with future tenants not even in the country yet – videos make the lives of tenants easier by giving them more to go on than photographs alone and enough to make a commitment.
It’s true that Unique Property Company has a very particular market. It’s also true that people looking for unique and interesting property will likely know exactly the type of space they want to live in and have the passion to commit as soon as they see it. Nonetheless, it’s up to us to capitalise on that.
Although we’d often mused among ourselves about a future of renting property by video alone, we’ll admit that our first viewing-free letting happened sooner than we imagined. So agents might be doing tenants a disservice by assuming they need to view, and it shows the remarkable power of video over photos, and of social media in its highly targeted reach.