Winnipeggers can get a peek at properties the city hopes to sell without having to visit them.
In December 2020, the City of Winnipeg began adding video tours of some of its surplus properties, over concerns that large open houses posed a risk of spreading COVID-19.
"We’ve found these videos have been a great opportunity to market our properties. It makes it much easier to share them digitally on social media, in addition to other conventional marketing we’ve done in the past," said Joedi Pruden, the city’s supervisor of sales and acquisitions, in a statement.
Video tours have been created to help sell the John Blumberg Golf Course, a century-old home at 700 St. Jean Baptiste St. and the former restaurant on Esplanade Riel. The videos will continue to be used "whenever possible" as public health restrictions continue, Pruden said.
Many real estate agents used video tours before the pandemic but have expanded their offerings during the COVID-19 era.
Justin Zarnowski, a lawyer for Shindico Realty, said the pandemic led his company to speed up plans to add 3D video tours of its properties.
"The pandemic really did drive people (to) not feel comfortable going in a space, at least at first," said Zarnowski.
While more basic video viewings started before the pandemic, Zarnowski said they were not the standard. He expects them to become more prominent.
"It gives somebody an opportunity to see a space at their leisure and, if they don’t remember something, they can go back and take a look and see exactly (how) everything is. It’s a really, really helpful technology," he said.
Akash Bedi, president-elect of the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board, said his members increased their use of 3D and other video options in recent months.
"During the initial shutdown of everything during COVID... we had to adapt and utilize technology really fast," said Bedi.
About 30 per cent of listings would be paired with some form of video pre-pandemic, which jumped to between 50 and 60 per cent after COVID-19 hit, he said.
Small group in-person viewings will never go out of fashion, he said.
"People still want to come in and touch and feel and smell the home and get a sense of the neighbourhood, the energy or the vibe of the house," said Bedi.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.