When realtor Danny Dawson visited Howl Hill Farm for the first time, he felt it — “the cool feeling of history” — and an emotional connection to the property. Dawson’s creative light bulb switched on when the owner said she was still in touch with Steward, the farmer who grew up on the land.
Ignoring the rule that many agents follow about depersonalizing a property, Dawson did the opposite. He created a storytelling video marketing piece that stars the farmer/former owner; Steward was able to talk about local history and what it was like to grow up on the property back in the day, Dawson says. “It’s something interesting (and) people will watch the whole video to see the whole story. It drives views to the property.”
Transforming a historic property into an experience
Dawson met with Ardent Media’s manager, photographer and videographer to discuss his vision, and together they came up with a plan to create the video. “They ran the show,” Dawson says. “Ardent is a newer company with one of the best photographers and high-end equipment.”
Their suggestions included everything from where Steward should sit to which times of day would be best to shoot in order to capture its most special features. They also edited the video in-house, which ensured the feeling and quality were consistent and exactly what Dawson wanted.
He also worked closely with the homeowners because he says they “understand their property. What the owner loves about the property is identical to what the buyer will love — the horses, the swimming lake and views.”
Dawson prepared talking points but said Steward is “a good speaker and just told his story. It was a wholesome moment.”
He says the “coolest thing was that we were go, go, go. Steward, at the end of the day, asked if we wanted to stay for some treats — fresh strawberries and cookies. It was another wholesome moment and a reminder to us to slow down and enjoy the process.”
Prepping the home took a couple of weeks, video and photography took a full day, and production took more than a week. The process is not inexpensive, but he says, “I’d rather spend a little more and keep the standard high.” He also says with a property in this price range, there is a certain expectation of quality and money spent on marketing.
Storytelling that sells
Keegan Downs, CEO and owner of Ottawa-based Ardent Media, says, “The average cost of the video alone from traditional real estate marketing companies would be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the property size and complexity of the deliverables.” Danny’s video alone would have probably fallen around the $1,250 to $1,500 range had we not bundled it with other content, including photos and the iGuide virtual tour, for a total of $2,500. This price is competitive with the regional average for Ottawa, but there are outlier cases of individual videographers who will undercut heavily and tend to sacrifice quality.”
Dawson says he’s trying to differentiate himself as a realtor and is taking a “higher tone” because “it’s all about the way you present yourself, how people view you and the quality of your work.”
He hopes the storytelling video will draw extra attention and help find the right buyer for the unique $2.5 million property in an area where the average price is $300,000.
Dawson has been in real estate for almost 10 years. He has received Royal LePage awards, including the Chairman’s Award (national top one per cent) in 2022. The almost 33-year-old was also on the Top 35 Under 35 in 2021 and 2022.
Most of his clients are referrals from agents at Royal LePage, as well as other companies.
From history to high-end sales
Something that sets him apart is that he is one of a few agents who works in both Ontario and Quebec. Working in two provinces is quite different “with differing law systems and MLS rules, but the principles are the same. You act in the best interest of the client,” he says.
He sells everything from low to high-end properties. His record sales include the most expensive condo on MLS in the Outaouais region, the most expensive sale in Chelsea and the second most expensive property on Meech Lake, all in Quebec.
“When you have big listings and get results closing them, people see that, and your name gets (mentioned) by other agents,” he says.
Realtors also know him from his time as a director with the Ottawa Real Estate Board and the four years he volunteered on the board’s MLS committee.
To see the storytelling video showcasing Howl Hill Farm, click here.