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Apr 14, 2007 04:30 AM
Special to The Star
Toronto realtor Pat Baker is soon to become a virtual star. Her debut will begin inside a dark studio where, surrounded by blue screens, she’ll be filmed giving a guided tour of the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, a luxury development currently under construction.
Baker, CEO of Baker Real Estate, will point out upscale features to potential buyers as she strolls through virtual rooms, all of which will be decorated in the final clip with virtual furniture commissioned to an international designer.
Marketers, realtors and developers all say that e-technology is becoming increasingly important in selling new condos in urban settings such as Toronto. For many urban buyers, the Internet is both their initial and primary means of gathering information and shortlisting their selections. In some cases, clients do all of their research online and visit the sales office only to fill out the final paperwork.
E-savvy developers who have done their market research in Toronto are pouring more of their marketing dollars into Web-based technology such as e-blasts, blogs, two-way communication portals and spectacular $100,000 websites. The recent addition of virtual reality and 3-D animation to some sites is a clever way to connect with a generation of video gamers.
The shift in marketing is partly driven by developers, who see this as phenomenally cost-effective – it’s much cheaper to send an e-blast than to mail 1,000 letters. It’s also partly driven by buyers, who increasingly turn to the Internet as a source of information on just about everything.
This shift has several implications: It changes the role of the realtor, it alters the dynamics at the sales centre and it affects the overall selling strategy.
Project websites used to look more like electronic versions of print ads, says Mitchell.
And, like print ads, the main purpose was to drive people to visit the sales centre, where a salesperson would dole out information and secure the sale.