Beverly Hills · Malibu


Beverly Hills · Malibu

WEA in The Hollywood Reporter

It reaches an altitude of 600 feet, operates stealthily and has a range of about two miles. HeliMalibu’s aerial drone isn’t the latest device used in the war on terrorism — it’s helping real estate agents sell houses. And it’s one of several new tools brokers are experimenting with to boost sales in a stagnant market.

Agents have begun using HeliMalibu’s drones to shoot videos and photos of houses — mostly large estates that can benefit from imagery that highlights their scale. “It is like watching a scene fromAvatar when you are flying above a river — it is just so cool,” says Westside Estate Agency chairman Stephen Shapiro, who has used the drones to take imagery of a Bel-Air house being sold by former Architectural Digest owner Bud Knapp and his wife,Betsy, for $23.95 million and of Paramount CEO Brad Grey‘s Holmby Hills residence, listed at $23.5 million.

HeliMalibu founder Daniel Garate has shot video of about 10 houses and done some work on feature films, including capturing car chases. The year-old company charges as much as $1,800 for video footage of a house and as much as $500 for still photography. Going a more traditional route and hiring a helicopter, he says, can cost up to $4,000.

Meanwhile, Keller Williams Realty agent Eric Lavey, who specializes in the Westside, has been shooting scripted lifestyle videos inside his listings to give buyers a sense of what it would be like to live there. Lavey, a former UTA talent agent, says response to the first video he created — for a three-bedroom Hollywood Hills house he sold for $920,000 in October — convinced him to continue to produce them.

In the short clip, set to an upbeat soundtrack, a young male professional is shown arriving home in a convertible Lexus and prepping for a night out. Lavey says the video would have cost roughly $3,000 to produce, but he called in a few favors to save money (the man in the video is his former assistant). Lavey sold the midcentury property to two brothers who he says saw it on Vimeo — along with 12,000 other people.

Although the house sold for less than its $969,000 asking price, Lavey moved it quickly. “It sets me apart,” he says, adding that he plans to shoot three more videos in January. “Just like you take a brochure away at a car dealership, people want to dwell on what they saw and fall in love with it.”

And New York-based Corcoran Real Estate Group has partnered with 1stdibs.com, an online luxury furnishings marketplace, to showcase listings. The idea is that users browsing for, say, a Maison Jansen mahogany chest might start thinking about a second residence in Martha’s Vineyard, too. Some houses are touted on 1stdibs by interior designers who work with the website (Corcoran declined to discuss financial arrangements of the deal).

No sales originating from 1stdibs had closed about two months into the partnership, but Corcoran CEOPamela Liebman remains optimistic: “Everybody is looking for the ability to give their clients the greatest exposure to the right clientele.”


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