The economy has slowed down, what does that mean for Real Estate prices?

Over the past few months, and some would say even longer, the local economy has been much slower than in the previous past. This has impacted a number of industries, not the least of which is Real Estate.

This impact showed itself in the market by having more and more inventory staying on the market longer, as buyers in many segments of the industry, hold their hands on purchases; added to this is the trend of many new rental homes being added to the market along with many others being added back to the pool, by expatriates leaving at the end of contracts, university students that opt to brave the highways to and from class instead of booking an apartment, etc.

Based on this, the price of homes should theoretically drop, right? Well, we have seen movements, but on very subtle levels; sellers and even rental property owners are interested in closing the deal, and are more and more willing to negotiate prices, but in many instances the room for negotiation is based on their pre-existing financing arrangements for the said property. Mortgages or business loans that are rolled into the properties certainly can limit the flexibility of the negotiation, and present to the prospective buyer or renter with price ranges that can be surprising at times or even disheartening in some cases.

We thought to put this question to the readers of our blog and the followers of our page, to get a better understanding of the way the Trinidad and Tobago economy has affected your search for a real space, or if you have a property available, how you may have had to adapt your approach when entering the market.

How has the economy impacted your perspective of the local Real Estate Market, and what changes have you made to adapt? Leave your comment and lets start the discussion.

Independence Day Decor

There are so many simple ways to let your home’s décor reflect your national pride this independence day- without picking up a paintbrush.

Think of your home as a blank canvas that you can decorate in anyway that you want. Most people are not so confident when it comes to adding colour to their space and choose to go to “safe colours” like neutrals and pastels- which is fine if that is to your taste. Red, white and black are bold colours that can have major impact and can be incorporated into any décor more easily that you think.

 

Strategic placement of books

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 You don’t even need to have a large bookshelf in order to do this. You can take your favourite reading material and strategically place them around a room (coffee table, bedside table, kitchen counter, et c)

 

Throw pillows

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Throw pillows are an inexpensive and can mix and match these in any way that you wish by using solid colours, prints or metallic beadwork. The best part is that they are replaceable. When you get tired, all you need to do is switch them out to something that better suits your mood.

 

Curtains or Draping

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Window coverings can make such a dramatic statement in any room. You can use solid colours with a contrasting colour as a tieback (e.g.: black curtains with a red tieback), or funky prints to contrast with a solid colour wall. Choose your patterns/ prints wisely to keep the room from looking overwhelmed.

 

Artwork

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Framed prints and paintings always add a finished look to any room. The art that you love and display expresses volumes about your personality, so you shouldn’t be hesitant to add some large, bold pieces of art on your walls. There are tons of local artists that you can contact for pieces (paintings, sculptures, candles, et c) or you can make your own.

Adding our national colours to a room can be very easy and inexpensive. If you work at it little by little, transforming your real space through these handy tips or through other ideas like adding furniture, carpeting or rugs or even through displaying red, white and black baubles in a glass bowl on your dining table is just within your reach.

How are you showing your national pride through your real space? Share your decorating ideas with our community and let’s take this discussion a little further!

 

How making Real Estate Videos can help Small Agencies seem Large.

In Trinidad and Tobago the demand for Real Estate Videos is growing, at least in my observation. This phenomenon is due in part to the fact that the industry continues to splinter and agents of yesterdays’ agency, is tomorrows’ agency owner. Properties are also continually being added to the market, and lastly, investors are looking more to purchasing properties as investment instruments, over mutual funds or fixed accounts; with all this movement in all areas of the industry, it’s no wonder there is interest anew in having better marketing tools utilized in the marketing of new listings.

Online Marketing

Today , the idea of visiting a website for information and even initial contact is a common option and is often utilized by consumers and browsers on the local real estate market. That means that agents are now driven to get new content, which traditionally means more and more properties to be listed. However the habit of agents to co-broker deals can throw a wrench into these plans. When a few different agents co-broker on a few different properties, the problem becomes repetition for the consumer.

As you can agree, when someone is on the market, they always speak to more than one agent. The client then speaks to three or four agents that are either sharing the same social spheres and relying on word or mouth, or relying on recommendations of past clients, and eventually end up all presenting the same options to the clientele. This can falsely lead to clients thinking that there is a limited number of properties on the market, or some other incorrect conclusion.

In reality this can be solved by considering the increase in content to not only be volume, but also in the depth of the information given. Instead of only listing a property with the same images that all other agents on the co-brokering agreement with you already have, agents are now considering having a video produced for these listings.

Real Estate Marketing Utilizing Digital Publishing

The trick to Real Estate Videos, like any other type of marketing tool, is distribution. The more eyeballs you have, the more opportunity to have your product sold. Videos break through social spheres, ages, economic or geographic demographics and more, simply because they are prepared and distributed as digital content on a world wide web platform. Like the blog, a video can be published from my desktop, and instantly shared, liked, embedded or otherwise distributed,  often using  third party assistance.

Like the video on facebook? As soon as you do, your friends will see it, and they may comment, then their friends see it, all with the click of one button, Then if we embed internet breadcrumbs like active links and ping backs etc, the distant viewer who the initial publisher never met, can immediately be taking back to the initial video source, the agents website! Brilliant eh!

Rights to Publish

Another tool the agents are utilizing is the age old television and broadcast agreement platform. A property is privately owned. This means for a crew to gain access and shoot on location, within the property or compound, there must be an agreement in place authorizing the crew to shoot, and more importantly to broadcast the content. Usually the area of distribution, the duration, or life of the broadcast and other details are included into the agreement.

Be Savvy about your Digital Content

The savvy agent will understand the benefits of the publishing agreement and present that the agreement includes them into it. As such, they essentially gain exclusive possession of that video content and its distribution vis the avenues identified in the agreement.  Simply put, if the agent is branded in these property videos, they are the only agents that can benefit from it; so where ever that video goes, its a calling card right to their doorstep. Nifty stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting Real Estate Outdoors, in the “Rainy Season”

I have recently been asked to film a bunch of new properties on the market. As is expected, every shoot has to make the property looks its best, while giving a true representation of the location, condition, features and other sometimes subtle or overlooked things…….. like the view. To do this, the exterior has to be filmed and sometimes the surroundings and landmarks also make the cut.

However, I have been having a great challenge recently with the unpredictable weather we are having in Trinidad. The weather can go from sunny and clear skies, to stormy and lightning in a matter of minutes, making filming a challenge for those picturesque videos scenes. Im sure many others in photography and video work will agree that this can be a time consuming and even costly factor, when considering assistants, bookings lost and the other aspects that are required for a good shoot.

My solution? I have regulated my shooting down to two times of the day and tried to limit my shooting to two properties per day, sometimes that has been as many as four locations in a day, weather and traffic permitting. Ten AM and two PM, I’ve found that this is just when the sun is where I can do outdoor shooting, but also just after morning traffic and just before the evening traffic rush. Also, if the day starts off clear, it usually takes a turn for the worse just after these times… Any earlier than that and you would have noticed the bad weather from the beginning of the day and made it an editing day in studio instead.

Also, the sun can be extremely hot and bright just an hour or two before the weather changes for some reason, I’m sure the scientists can explain why , so in an attempt to solve this, I recently started using special UV and other filters on my lenses. Can I say, this has helped a lot and going from Broadcast Cameras to DLSRs for filming has also increased the number of lenses that I can use on a shoot, all adding to the lighting control I have and the look of the video with no post production, but those details are for another article.

All in all, It’s a fantastic feeling to get a great shot of a person’s home, sometimes when they see the video, they say they have “never seen it look so good”. This makes me, as an always learning videographer and television producer, feel all fuzzy inside, but its also a professional accomplishment when I can say I’ve learned how to use the tools available to make the shot, even when the conditions aren’t the best.

The Rent to Own Question in T&T…

Recently, I have been receiving more and more queries on the “Rent to Own” question in Trinidad and Tobago. This is a popular option in other markets and has become well publicized via life style shows and other HGTV type productions. In Trinidad and Tobago tho, I have not been informed of many , if any of these on the market.

There are options being explored by homeowners to increase the appeal of their properties. Owners are often interested in a “rent or sale”, of properties in an effort to get it off the market and into either an earning or “Income Property” category, or dispose of the asset altogether. My only assumption would be that these properties are mortgaged and are incurring a monthly cost that has to either be maintained by a rental income, or paid off altogether with a sale. Profit included of course…

However, as more and more calls and emails come in for this particular approach to homeownership, the conclusion seems to be that persons that are currently renting, are interested in owning one day, but may not have the savings for a deposit. It’s why we added a mortgage component to our service from the very beginning of this website and television series. Our research showed that there was a demand for information as much as there was a demand for homes and in our conversations with the participating agencies, we learned that quite a number of showings are done with well intentioned browsers, that haven’t actually sat down with a mortgage officer to explore the options for going from renting to owning, utilizing efficient savings and investment options.

So, we continue to encourage the visitors to our site to utilize the function of emailing agents about properties that we feature, as this will put them in touch with mortgage officers of a leading financial institution to assist in this area.

Options for savings toward a short, medium or long term goal maybe info that these potential homeowners may not have considered. So, to find out more, we will be asking each of these emailers and callers to consider submitting their information to be guided in this area by the financial experts.

Approaching the end of our Fifth Season

Hopefully you have noticed that we have been broadcasting on TV6 for the past few months, although we have had a few pre-emptions due to live cricket, the season has attracted a number of new viewers, visitors to our site and we also added a new agency( Shout out to NEALCO Real Estate).

Now, with just a few episodes left, we are approaching the end of another successful season. The new listings agents, viewers and website visitors have all been a great sign that our brand and service is continuing to grow in appeal and reach.

Although the series will be between seasons, we will be continuing to visit properties across T&T and film videos for our website, so if you enjoy seeing the homes on the market, there will be many more coming soon to keep you updated between seasons.

There are plans in the works for a new season, that may be going to air soon, but lips are sealed on the details. Until then, feel free to contact us to have your property, or that of someone you know…., to be added to the upcoming series and website…. and thanks for watching or visiting.

Season Begins on Tv6

After a 6 month long hiatus filled with lots of productions, meeting new homeowners and touring the country filming properties, Real Spaces is now once again on air. This new season will continue from June into August of 2013 and will feature all new properties for rent and sale.

The new season will also be broadcasted on a new home this season, with TV6 being the station of choice. The usual Sunday evening slot of 4:30pm to 5:00pm will be assigned to this season and viewers will be happy to know that if you missed it, you can view the properties on our “Videos” tab right here on the website.

Updates will also be fed to @Realspacestt on Twitter and to the Real Spaces facebook group. Incidentally, as soon as I can figure out how to use the Instagram on my new smartphone, I will be inviting followers there as well.

 

A Fun Time Filming a Golf Resort in Tobago.

Recently, I was asked to visit our lovely sister island of Tobago, to film and photograph a resort that will be placed on the International market for sale. This was the first property outside of Trinidad that I have been asked to film, and certainly the first International Resort! It was my first time on a golf course too, and with  156 acres to visit, the shoot was sure to take the fully day that we booked for the production.

I met with Roger the agent at the airport and we boarded the Caribbean Airlines flight for the 15 minute flight over. Landed Safely, we were on the drive to the hotel when I thought “That was the easy part”, As the challenges were stacked against me having a smooth shoot. The weather, the time allotted for the shoot, and the limited resources I took along with me on the flight, meant that I had to keep to the schedule of shooting all day long to get the footage I needed. Any bad shots or shaky   moves that I normally identify in post and remove from the edit, I opted to dump directly off the flash cards on the spot. It saved the much needed space on the memory cards and also helped a lot in the edit stage.

Getting Started

Normally, when I’m on a shoot, I begin with a simple walk through of the property to get a feel for the space and to help me identify specific details of the property that I then use in the narration. With this much space to tour however, that was not going to be feasible. I had been to the resort before tho, about five years ago I stayed a weekend for a friends’ wedding. She got married on the resort’s private beachfront. I did not go wandering off tho, so to be honest,I never saw all of resort there was to see.

When we got to the location the first thing my Agent / Guide did, was secure a golf cart to take us across the entire course for the shots needed. The weather was cooperating and we had to make the best of the shots while we could. The Rainy season was in full swing already, and if you’ve ever been in Trinidad or Tobago during the rainy season, you’ll understand how quickly the sun can be drowned out with torrential rains, only to have blistering sun again within minutes of the downpour.

Real Four Wheeler!

This was one of the highlights of the trip, truth be told, I’d never been on a golf cart before and was amazed at how easily it navigated the course. We shot angles, reverse shots, and even got some shots of golfers teeing off, (With their permission of course). We were well on our way to shooting the entire eighteen hole golf course when, you guessed it, the rains came.

We decided to seek shelter at a little hut when, while navigating an uphill bit of now muddy track, we got stuck. Im happy to report that with a little elbow grease and some surprising strength I honestly though I lost along with my gym membership, I was able to pull the cart out of the ditch with dear Roger the agent driving. Yes pull, not push people, standing behind a sliding golf cart on a muddy uphill track in the rain, isn’t a good idea!

The rest of the shoot went well. and by night fall we had managed to cover the entire golf course, beach front, pool, lobby and even squeezed in two delicious burgers, (medium-well) Salad and a pot of coffee for a late lunch. By the evening Roger had left me to it, and I went on to film the suites and cabanas of the hotel all in time to catch the ten pm flight back home.

I must say, in the three (or maybe four) years I’ve been filming this series, this certainly was the largest and most exhilarating shoot I’ve been on. The location, tho dated, certainly is a gem of a location and I will have fond memories of this shoot as one of the most exciting and informative. Needless to say, I’m gonna have a go at learning the game of golf after such a fun day on the course.

 

IKEA Hackers: vintage mirrored luxe for lack coffee table

I know these are external links, but they were well worth reading and I just had to share for all the creative souls out there.

 

IKEA Hackers: vintage mirrored luxe for lack coffee table.