Is Uptown's shirtless 'condo bro' the future of real estate marketing?

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 7, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Is a suggestive video starring a shirtless agent the future of real estate marketing?

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Listing agent Seth Nelson of Lakes Sotheby’s stars in a video for an Uptown condo he's trying to sell.

What does it take to sell a condo these days?

Try a sexy view, a leggy blonde — and killer abs.

That’s the buzzed-about strategy one local real estate agent is using to market a unit at the Edgewater, an upscale building in Uptown across from Lake Calhoun.

The view, the blonde and the guy with the chiseled torso all have starring roles in “Date Night,” a three-minute video that ogles the condo’s sleek interior — and the guy’s sleek exterior as he showers and primps for his date with the blonde, then brings her back to his place for bubbly, some subtle disrobing and a retreat to his swanky bedroom, followed by a morning-after shot on the balcony.

“Date Night” has been around since November, at www.edgewater503.com, but it caught fire last week with a flurry of tweets, online news stories and scathing comments. Some disparaged the moneyed, muscled dude in the video as a “jerk,” an “uber bro” and even a “Dollar Store Ryan Gosling,” the likes of which are ruining Uptown as we once knew it.

“It’s so over-the-top,” said St. Cloud writer Steve “Stu” Neuman in reference to the video (he coined the Gosling putdown in a snarky story that appeared on Minnpost). “Just looking at it from the outside, you almost wonder if it’s a parody, making fun of that lifestyle — shaking the martini, driving the Maserati. Do they really mean this?”

Listing agent Seth Nelson of Lakes Sotheby’s knew the video was a little “edgy” for Minnesota, and would “ruffle certain feathers,” he said. He’s only surprised it took so long.

He and his collaborators at Spacecrafting, which produced the video, expected it to make a splash. “We thought it was pretty special — groundbreaking for this market,” said Spacecrafting owner Mike McCaw. “It flew under the radar, then kind of blew up yesterday [June 2],” getting more than 10,000 hits in one day, after just 3,000 hits the first six months.

Nelson, who approached Spacecrafting with the concept, was inspired by videos he’s seen for luxury properties in Los Angeles, where he also does business, as well as in Miami, New York and Australia.

“This is where real estate marketing is trending,” he said of “lifestyle videos” such as “Date Night.”

Most virtual tours are boring room-by-room pans.

“When you’re selling real estate, you’re selling lifestyle and what it would be like to live in that space,” he said. “My goal was to encompass the amazing Uptown lifestyle, where you can have a martini on the balcony, watch the sun set and walk across the street to Lake Calhoun.”

To keep costs down, Nelson cast himself as the guy and his real-life spouse and real estate partner, Jenny, as the blonde date. Nelson has done some acting and modeling, but his wife, who has not, “took some convincing,” he said. The couple, who live in Minneapolis’ Linden Hills neighborhood, are parents to a young son, Graham, who also has a cameo in the video. The original idea was for the boy to appear on the balcony with his parents and greet them with a “Good morning, Mommy and Daddy.”

That ending would have made the video more “wholesome” and less suggestive of a “hook-up,” McCaw said. But most of the footage with the son ended up on the cutting-room floor, in part because “it seemed kind of cheesy,” Nelson said. (Graham is still visible in the final cut, but from a distance, in the morning-after shot.)

Reactions to the video from real estate colleagues have ranged from enthusiastic, like, “Wow! You raised the bar,” to disapproval.

“Someone said I was the laughingstock of our office,” Nelson said. He’s been ribbed online about everything from his suit-with-no-socks attire to his driving the few blocks to the Calhoun Beach Club after downing the martini. “Obviously, if I lived there, I’d walk,” he said.

He’s taking the sarcasm in stride. “Not everyone wants to see the guy in the shower with the abs,” he said. “I love film, and I wanted to get creative.” And, ultimately, he wanted to sell the condo. “Exposure is the name of the game.”

Since “Date Night,” Spacecrafting has been hired to create a few more lifestyle videos for high-end homes on the market in the Twin Cities, including a new one starring a model leaving his office job in downtown Wayzata, getting in his Ferrari and driving home to Lake Minnetonka.

Lifestyle videos help people make an emotional connection with a home, McCaw said. “They think, ‘That could be me.’ This is the wave of the future.”

So does that mean we’ll soon see videos of Average Joes stopping at the muni to pick up a six-pack, then popping a Bud Light on the deck of a rambler in Richfield?

Probably not.

“You’re not going to do a lifestyle video for a $300,000 property,” Nelson said. “Agents would go broke.” A video like “Date Night,” with its aerial views and time-lapse photography of Uptown nightlife, costs several thousand dollars to produce.

Spacecrafting is adding videographers, however, in anticipation of producing a wide range of videos, from short vignettes to big-budget productions, McCaw said. “I see the MLS going completely video in about five years.”

Meanwhile, unit 503 at the Edgewater is still on the market, as a pocket listing (not on the MLS), for $1.999 million.

For that, you get a prime location, panoramic fifth-floor views of the lake and interior finishes that include salvaged wood, some pulled from the bottom of Lake Superior, a red calfskin accent wall, custom-cut stone from a quarry in England and artisan tiles, plus two heated parking stalls.

“We’ve had interested parties and offers, but it’s going to take the right person,” Nelson said.

Ryan Gosling, are you listening?

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784











  • related content

  • The Edgewater condo offers custom features and finishes, and an impressive view of Lake Calhoun.

  • Jenny and Seth Nelson with their son, Graham. All three appear in the “Date Night” video, although most of Graham’s scenes ended up on the cutting-room floor.

  • Ryan Gosling?  No, it’s real estate agent Seth Nelson, who appears in “Date Night.”

  • Kitchen and dining area of condo 503 at Edgewater in Minneapolis.

  • Seth Hannula The video ‚ÄúDate Night‚Äù showcases the Edgewater condo‚Äôs custom features and finishes and its impressive view of Lake Calhoun.

  • Seth Hannula The video ‚ÄúDate Night‚Äù showcases the Edgewater condo‚Äôs custom features and finishes and its impressive view of Lake Calhoun.

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