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Realtor hires actors, luxury cars to market $4.5M home

Published: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 4:34 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 12:25 a.m. CDT
(Brent Thorne - For Shaw Media)
Lorenzo Sales Jr. set up a short introduction shot of the film crew at 28 Brinker Road in Barrington Hills on Thursday. Ben Schmanke, Rochelle Mahoutchian, Michael LaFido, Joe Corcaran, Milan Shah and Nan Hayes (from left) were all part of the video production intended to sell the $4.5 million home.
(Brent Thorne - For Shaw Media)
A $4.5 million home, at 28 Brinker Road, Barrington Hills, was staged to be filmed by a five-person production crew for an online two-minute tour video. The film shoot lasted hours on Thursday. Project director and ERA real estate broker Michael LaFido said the goal is for potential buyers to be able to view the short clip and imagine themselves in the home.
(Brent Thorne - For Shaw Media)
Child actor Oscar Katsoulis, 8, of Hinsdale, waited for direction during the filming of a pool scene at a multi-million dollar home for sale at 28 Brinker Road in Barrington Hills on Thursday. The two-minute "Million Dollar Transformation" video showcases an eight-foot-deep infinity pool.
(Brent Thorne - For Shaw Media)
Lorenzo Sales III (left) and father Lorenzo Sales Jr. prepped their video equipment before filming the opening scene for Michael LaFido's "Million Dollar Transformation" movie at the home for sale at 28 Brinker Road in Barrington Hills on Thursday.
(Brent Thorne - For Shaw Media)
Ben Schmanke of South Elgin. readied his DJI Phantom Aerial Drone to capture a Rolls Royce Ghost pulling into the driveway of a Barrington Hills home for sale at 28 Brinker Road on Thursday.
(Brent Thorne - For Shaw Media)
A Black 2014 Ferrari California, Red Ferrari 512TR and Black Audi R8 GT (from left) provided by Chicago Motor Cars, were parked outside a $4.5 million Barrington Hills home at 28 Brinker Road on Thursday. The luxury cars were used to film a short movie intended to draw potential buyers to the estate.

BARRINGTON HILLS – An area real estate agent is looking to add luxury home blockbusters to his business portfolio.

“Cracking the Real Estate Code” author and real estate consultant Michael LaFido, of ERA Team Feinstein-Hinsdale, has produced a short marketing video in hopes of selling a $4.5 million, 15-year-old home at 28 Brinker Road in Barrington Hills. Hiring actors, importing luxury cars and staging the property was just the beginning for LaFido and his film crew.

“We paint a picture to potential buyers of the lifestyle that comes with this home,” LaFido said.

Preparation for the two-minute film, to be called “Million Dollar Transformation,” started in January when LaFido encouraged the homeowners to invest about $300,000 in a full kitchen remodel and hired interior designer Milan Shah to give the 11,500-square-foot home what Shah called a “summer in The Hamptons” feel.

LaFido said he didn’t want to miss out on the August market. The listing for the house – with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three half bathrooms and private lakefront – went live July 31.

Owner Jim Lee, a principal at Hamilton Communications in Chicago, estimated he and his wife Colleen invested about $4 million into the seven-acre property after purchasing it for $3.9 million in 2009. The home was up for sale in 2012 and 2013. Jim Lee said he wasn’t ready to let the home go despite it not selling.

“Emotionally, I wanted to keep the property for myself,” Lee said. “I love the area, privacy, scenery and architectural uniqueness of the home. It’s deceptively elegant.”

Lee said his wife and three children wanted to move back to their North Shore origins to be close to friends they miss.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Lee said. “I’m quite happy in the North Shore, but that was my dream house in Barrington Hills. It was the house I was going to retire in. I would come home from the city every day and restore myself. It was like living in a resort out there.”

As for LaFido’s film proposition, Lee said he thought it was creative.

“I’m in advertising myself so I know that marketing is absolutely necessary in a sell,” Jim Lee said. “People aren’t always able to envision themselves in a still home, so the film will bring it to life.”

First to roll in for a full day of filming Aug. 11 were four expensive pieces of eye candy from Chicago Motor Cars – a 2014 Rolls Royce Ghost, Audi R8 GT, Ferrari California and 1993 Ferrari 512 TR. Then came seven actors – five adults and two children; a Barrington-rented horse; a crew of cinematographers from Cv3 Media Productions of Hinsdale, and drone-mounted video equipment from Schmanke Media of South Elgin.

The actors never spoke, as a narrative voice-over will be used for the final cut. Scenes included people pier fishing, paddle boating, picnicking, swimming in the home’s eight-foot-deep infinity pool and making use of the picturesque property.

Shah pointed out some of the home’s special amenities – a guest house, a horse barn, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a lake, glass and limestone walls, an oversized fireplace, a five-car garage with heated floors, private outdoor master bedroom hot tub, recreational rooms and a Brazilian hardwood deck.

Lee said he had the deck’s wood panels imported from Brazil and installed one-by-one for about $300,000 to ensure the deck would never splinter or chip.

The deck overlooks an unnamed private lake and aviary island where Lee said he could often observe cranes, hawks and geese.

Since Lee had anticipated staying in the home for life, he said he had invested extensively in landscaping.

“We planted about 200 new trees and mapped and tagged every tree on the property,” Lee said. “There’s also an apple orchard where our children’s classmates would visit to pick apples and fundraise for their school.”

Lee said his children outgrew horses and grew into cars, hence the large garage.“It’s a home for entertaining,” Lee said. “It’s a place where both children and adults can play.”

LaFido said he’s already had two or three interested buyers who haven’t seen the film yet, and he’s confident the home will sell as quickly as 95 percent of his listings which have sold in 39 days or less.

“I’m looking for the needle in the haystack buyer,” LaFido said. “It probably isn’t going to be anyone local – maybe a relocating CEO from the city or someone who’s moving in from another state, or even an international buyer.”

Describing the home as a “very retreatful dream vacation every single day,” Shah said it’s likely one of the most exclusive properties in the area.

“I imagine the buyer to be very successful, but also family-oriented,” Shah said. “Maybe a couple with young kids or grandparents who can host family with the guest amenities.”Estimating that the film will end up costing about $10,000 out of his own pocket, LaFido said he would like to continue making home-marketing videos in the future – perhaps as part of a reality show.

“I think there’s definitely a potential here,” LaFido said. “Most agents would just take pictures or maybe put a boring virtual tour online.”

LaFido said most real estate agents don’t think like marketers.

“My job is to make the home stand out against the competition,” LaFido said.

Visit www.luxehomemarketing to view the video and for information.

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