COVID-19 has forced a new reality as agents work from home and market their properties virtually. But what hasn’t changed is the importance of finding creative ways to make a property stand apart from the rest.

Eileen Lasswell, broker at Chestnut Park Real Estate in Toronto, says, “I’m trying to come up with unique ideas that allow the public to enjoy a particular house without having to leave their home. Most agents are doing 3D tours and videos and I am as well, but I think it is more important to be innovative to try and grab a buyer’s attention, to tell a story of the home and help the buyer visualize themselves living there.”

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When marketing 44A Maple Ave. in South Rosedale, she went back to why her client bought the home in the first place. He loved the sunlight and that there are so many walls on which to hang art.

She decided to stage to attract high-end, art-loving young buyers or downsizing buyers who no longer need a 4,000 to 6,000-square-foot home but want a Rosedale location. She wanted to evoke a luxury feeling at the property.

Sensing a state of emergency might be coming, she had a real estate photographer shoot the empty, newly renovated house. She had it virtually staged – five times – because she says she “didn’t like the cheesy art” the virtual stager added.

She came up with the art exhibit idea when talking to friends about the challenges of the various industries in which they work. One person on the call was an art dealer and Lasswell decided an art exhibit would be perfect. As luck would have it, 44A Maple’s owner is a well-known, award-winning artist in his own right.

Two rooms adorned with art will be featured in the 3D art gallery.
Two rooms adorned with art will be featured in the 3D art gallery.

Owner/photographer Koray Erkaya and Lasswell worked in partnership. Erkaya, a photographer, has exhibited his work internationally, most recently in Tokyo, London and the Ukraine. One of his beach scenes was used by the Turkish government as part of a tourism campaign.

As Erkaya collected some of his works from family members living in Toronto, Lasswell had a security system installed.

Since tradespeople were not available due to the lockdown, it was lucky that Erkaya is handy enough to hang his art himself. Another stroke of luck – being a photographer, he took the photos of his house himself. Lasswell says it’s all about leveraging what you have and making the most of it.

Two rooms adorned with art will be featured in the 3D art gallery.

“It will offer art lovers a new exhibit and at the same time show how beautiful this completely renovated home is and how a potential art lover could adorn its walls.”

She is posting photos of the home in three stages – empty, virtually staged and complete with original art. It’s all about creating interest now in preparation for when restrictions are relaxed, she says.

The timing worked out well for this sale and having a homeowner who is not only a well-known artist but who could do a lot of the work himself was lucky.

Real estate is on pause, but Lasswell says it’s important to put the time to good use by preparing and looking forward.

Her clients are sending photos of their home and she provides room-by-room notes about what they can do to declutter and prepare their home for sale. “This gives the homeowners something to do at this time.” They also don’t have to rush.


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