Looking for a beach rental? Check out video guide

May 22, 1994|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Special to The Sun

When Jeff Spindler and his wife, Karen, made a weekend trip to Ocean City in February to look for a rental unit for their summer vacation, they visited 24 condominiums but only saw three or four that they would have been willing to stay in.

"You've got a better shot at hitting Lotto than you do at renting a nice place sight unseen," Mr. Spindler said. "We got to the point . . . where I said to the Realtors, 'I'll pay anything to find a decent unit for the week.' "

About a week later, the Spindlers viewed a portion of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.'s new resort rental video that aired on the Sunday Showcase of Homes television program the company produces.

The videotape provides walk-through tours of assorted beach rental properties with interior and exterior views, prices and amenities plus an overview of attractions in communities from Lewes, Del., to Ocean City, Md.

Hundreds of copies are available at Long & Foster offices for viewing there or at home. There is no charge for borrowing it.

"I think it's a great idea," said Mr. Spindler, who lives in Eldersburg. "If I had seen the video first I probably would have looked at one to three units in person. And I would eliminate the trip if I just couldn't get down there. Having seen the video, I would have been more inclined to rent sight unseen."

Jim Waggoner, director of resort rentals for Long & Foster, developed the Resort Rental Video Showcase for the convenience of vacationers like the Spindlers. Because individual tastes vary, he said, it can be difficult for rental agents to accurately depict what a rental unit looks like in a telephone conversation.

"In the best of all worlds, people should come here in the spring," Mr. Waggoner said. But if they can't make the trip to preview what's available, he hopes they'll call him at 1-800-THE-BEACH to borrow a copy of the video from a Long & Foster office.

"People can sit in the comfort of their home in January or March and get a firsthand view of exactly what their vacation lodging is going to be," he said. "We've given them a real neat package of just what we have to offer."

For the 250 unit owners who paid fees of up to $75 for their properties to be included, the video is an opportunity for increased rental revenue. Properties will be added at least twice per year, Mr. Waggoner said.

About 250 copies of the first 45-minute videotape were produced in January. An additional 1,000 copies of the second edition will be available for distribution. It includes two 30-minute volumes: one for Delaware resorts and one for Ocean City.

In the future, Mr. Waggoner hopes to do a spring and fall weekend golf package video as well as specialized videotapes featuring oceanfront units only or specific geographical areas, such as Rehoboth/Dewey or Lewes.

The video has been "extremely well-received," he said. Bookings are up 30 percent, an increase he attributes in part to the viewing of the video by about 1,000 potential vacationers. About 68 percent have booked a rental unit.

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