CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On a recent Tuesday night, a 12,000-square-foot south Charlotte house became home to a high style photo shoot.
But the people in front of the camera were not trained models. Instead, they are licensed real estate brokers.
"You look more like a rock star than a real estate agent," said the photographer snapping the photos.
"We've had everything from, 'Are you out of your mind?' to 'That's the best idea we've ever heard,'" said Nicholas Peters.
His wife Mirium owns Peters & Associates, Inc., which focuses on luxury real estate in the Charlotte region.
"We want to have more fun with the real estate industry," Peters said.
As the two brainstormed about creative ways to jumpstart sales in the luxury market, they remembered seeing what they call "lifestyle photography" while on vacation and thought it could set them apart here.
"We've seen all the houses that have a virtual tour with standard photography. There are some beautiful pictures out there but you can't really get an aspect of what you would be living like in that house," said Peters.
So, the firm decided to start offering this photography where the Peters and other agents serve as the primary models.
The photos range from playing billiards to sitting in a home theatre, sitting in a bikini by the lavish pool and maybe, more shockingly, sitting in a bathtub.
"You have to think of new ways in today's economy to be unique and different and innovative to help sell," said November Walliser, a broker with the firm who also appears in the ads.
Walliser was prepared for mixed reactions, and she's gotten them.
"I've gotten a couple of derogatory comments. You're going to have your negative, but you just have to balance it out and make sure that you're getting more positives than negatives," she said.
One measure of what Peters calls the positives is clicks on the company's website. When he put photos from his first shoot online, he noticed an immediate difference.
"Our average person who clicked on a website link was anywhere from 30 to 70 seconds total. Now we're actually seeing four minutes to six minutes that people are actually sitting and looking at that property," said Peters.
"I have a little modeling background myself," added Walliser.
Whether you agree with real estate brokers modeling to sell their listings or not, these three see absolutely nothing wrong with it. Yes, it is sure to get the industry talking, but it's the buyers and sellers of the Charlotte region's luxury homes who Peters says he'll listen to the most.
"We're about to go under contract with an NFL player on a $4 million house and he wants that luxury lifestyle and he actually came from one of our new luxury lifestyle ads," said Peters.
"You can't really market a multimillion-dollar house -- a 5, 6 or $7 million house -- the same as you're going to market a $200,000 or $300,000 home," he said.
You may be asking what the folks who license the state's realtors think about this. We checked with the director of legal services for the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. Tom Miller hadn't seen the ads, but he did say as long as they aren't false or misleading, covering up a problem in the home, for instance, he didn't see a problem. He went on to say the commission hasn't received any complaints about the ads.
Peters & Associates, Inc. has now done "lifestyle" shoots in five homes and has plans to add more. To see a photo slideshow, click here.