Real estate video…is it worth the hype?

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By Marty Lachance
 
Video has become a hot topic in the real estate industry over the past year. I receive calls regularly from Realtors across North America, seeking advice and information about the value of video on their websites. The decision to include video is not as black and white as it may seem.
 
Let’s first clarify what video is exactly. The real estate video that we’re talking about is one that is filmed with a video camera, edited with software and placed on the Internet. It’s full-motion video that captures a property’s features and may include additional content such as a Realtor greeting, neighbourhood demographics and more. Video is not a series of still photos that are panned and zoomed to classical music. These devices add almost no value to the home shopping experience.
 
Cost is the biggest concern for Realtors who are considering incorporating video into their marketing portfolio. Marketing your listings is already an expensive undertaking. How far into your marketing budget will video reach? The answer to this depends on the quality and content of video that you want to provide to your sellers and the home buying public.
 
You can film your own videos and upload them to a free site for little-to-no cost. I’ve seen many Realtors attempt this, usually with less-than-impressive results. Many don’t consider the time and effort that needs to go into producing a video that will showcase the home (and themselves) in a positive light.
 
In order to produce your own video, you need to pay attention to important details such as lighting, sound and editing. I suggest that you look on the Internet for a full list of tips on how to produce something that you, your buyers and sellers will be impressed with. At a very minimum, use a high-quality camera, include motion (fans, fireplaces) and learn how to edit what you shoot. Two software video editing packages that I recommend are Cyberlink’s PowerDirector ($70 US) and Adobe Premiere ($95 US).
 
Adding your logo, picture and contact information will go a long way in getting your name out there. For those of you who are not camera-shy, I also recommend that you appear in the video.
 
A video greeting can be your first introduction to a large home-buying audience and it will create a more memorable impression with buyers. Filming, editing and uploading a reasonable-quality video for your listing will likely take one to two hours of your time.
 
Don’t have that kind of time, you say? Then consider hiring a professional videographer. You can use the Internet to search for one in your local area. This brings us back to cost. There are many video service companies out there that will tell you that it’s not expensive to have a video produced, but it’s all relative. Some Realtors feel that $150 is too expensive; others are willing to purchase a quality video that can near the $1,000 mark.
 
What’s the difference between a $1,000 video and $150 version? Plenty! A good videographer can embed additional information that will better pique a buyer’s interest. They can tastefully add music and voice-overs that can set you and your listing apart. Remember, buyers are sellers too. If they like the value-added services that you provide, this can deliver new business.
 
Let’s not think of video as a simple extension of property photos. It can and should offer so much more.
 
In my opinion, video should have less to do with the actual listing and more to do with peripheral information. Provide an overview of the neighbourhood, proximity information, special features and upgrades. Drive to nearby schools, parks and shopping. Embed these clips into your video. You can use the same clips for your future listings.
 
If your sellers are willing, roll the camera and prompt them with a simple, “So tell me about your home.” You will get some great content that really connects with buyers.
 
Once you have produced your video, it’s time to upload it to your favourite hosting site. Youtube and Google are two popular forums that you can use for free.
 
One important point to mention here is that some Canadian Realtors will need to consider how they can create a video that satisfies their board’s branding restrictions. Some boards require an unbranded Realtor presentation within their internal MLS and sometimes onwards to realtor.ca.
 
The restrictions vary from board to board, but don’t despair if your board prevents branding; there are solutions on the market. “Intelligent-URLs” can be used with all of your online sites. One single URL determines who is viewing your listing and presents appropriate and compliant content. I will examine this technology in a future article.
 
The recent slowdown in real estate presents a great opportunity to learn new skills. Video, if done correctly, will certainly add value to your marketing portfolio.
 
Marty Lachance is president and CEO of Utopria Inc. The Canadian company provides interactive marketing, training and communication services to Realtors, brokerages and real estate corporations across North America.  www.utopria.com or email mailto:[email protected].

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