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What is the Market For Real Estate Video? How Many Are Shooting Video?

February 23rd, 2010

I was asked the following question recently: “What is the market for video with Real Estate? Does it have a place in the future or are agents not interested?”

My answer was, “The market for real estate video is, I think, large. The problem is that it’s more difficult to shoot video   than shooting stills. You need some special equipment and there is a lot to learn when you start shooting video. You need special editing software and there are hosting considerations. There are only a relative handful of real estate photographers that do it now but those that do it well and market it well are getting business.”

This is my take from talking to a lot of real estate photographers and agents and looking what’s being done on the multiple and on agent’s sites. I’d like to hear what everyone thinks and get a feel for how much video is being shot.

From what I see agents eat it up when it’s available and marketed well. What do you think?

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40 Responses to “What is the Market For Real Estate Video? How Many Are Shooting Video?”

  • Most of the videos produced are pretty average, the rest are done by frustrated , failed, movie makers,.Sorry I am not a fan.

  • We require video for each listing. Grab a Samsung hd24 and use the pause button so no editting required. Post it on YouTube. Call it a day.

    Frank

  • I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve never been busier than I have the past 14 months. I shoot video and stills for about 65% of clients, stills only for probably 10% and video only for 25%. I get new customers every week, and virtually every existing customer is a repeat customer. Once they drink the Kool Aid…..

    I have several clients that have made video the cornerstone of their marketing. They use it to set themselves apart from their competition. Why? Because sellers and buyers LOVE video!

    The one sticky point with video – and this is BIG – is that 95% of Realtors still don’t ‘get’ video, so many people have found it to be difficult in marketing video to agents.

    Personally, I gave up marketing directly to Realtors about 2 years ago, as I found it to be an utter waste of my time. My only marketing is through referrals, my website and social media – my clients find me and refer me, and that keeps me working 7 days a week. My only downtime last year was between Christmas and New Years… I even shot 2 houses on Christmas Eve day last year!

    It’s big and getting bigger. But it’s a TOUGH sell to Realtors. Check out the threads on WellcomeMat.com about this topic – it’s been discussed to death – but it’s a real problem with video. If you think selling PHOTOGRAPHY is tough… video is tougher!

    http://www.wellcomemat.com/thehood/approaching-agents/641.html
    http://www.wellcomemat.com/thehood/how-to-get-an-agent-to-use-video/399.html
    http://www.wellcomemat.com/thehood/is-this-the-year-for-video-finally/830.html

    But make no mistake about it – video is a different animal than photography. You’re dealing with large – and I mean HUGE – files (I currently have over 16 terabytes just for storage!). Video is about images, but also audio, so you need to deal with audio, microphones, etc. as well. Did I mention big files? You can’t have a wimpy computer or you’ll be waiting all day to render files. And if you’re editing and transcoding 3-7 videos a day, you can’t be waiting around for your computer to creep along… And, don’t forget – most agents want their tours pretty quickly – you don’t have the luxury of taking a week to put it together (I turn everything around in 24 hours usually).

    Video is fun and it’s the future, but it’s DIFFERENT than photography. If you’re so inclined, jump in! It’s lots of fun and it’s not going away! (you DO know that YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google, right?)

  • What is the potential ROI for the photographer? As Larry pointed out: more equipment, a lot more post production to do a quality video as well as hosting fees, etc.
    Don’t go into video unless you can justify the expense to do it right and get paid for ALL of your time and effort. I shoot some video and I know the potential pitfalls.
    I’m not trying to be discouraging. Just go into video with both eyes wide open and be prepared to spend some money up front. If you decide to take the plunge and you want to hone your video editing skill check out lynda.com for some of the best tutorials. Best wishes.
    Ron

  • My inner (and biased) consumer has found very few quality videos online – to me there is no point in hosting a video that is low resolution ie. old youtube. Handheld videos are right out of the question as I’m not interested in watching real estate videos a la Blair Witch Project. On the other hand, I have seen several that go way beyond that, including all manner of cuts and fade outs and flashiness that ultimately is counterproductive, as nobody watches a real estate video for it’s special effects; the primary reason people watch is for information. After seeing two of them, I moved on. To me, the only advantage of video is a representation of home layout as the shooter moves from one area to another, and I cannot justify the added expense and downtime to learn and integrate the new systems into my workflow. Don’t get me wrong, A quality video is ultimately better suited for relaying information than a still, but I feel that it is only marginally so.
    Dan

  • Fred:

    Are you using a standard HD digi cam or have you experimented with the new video capable DSLRs?
    Also, are you doing the voice-over and description too, or do you outsource that portion of the post processing?

    This could be a great edge for me to learn locally, most realtors simply use the voice over ‘virtual tour’ with photos only.

    -Geoff

  • I think videos are a great way to view a property before even going to see it. I am a successful real estate investor and I firmly believe that time is money! I have a program that I use to analyze a property before I see it as well as viewing the video of the property too!

  • I see one trend now on the market and that’s: create a video slide-show from the existing images and upload it to youtube …
    my opinion is: even if a real video might be bought by some agents that’s only for top houses … so I do not see a move towards pro videos.

  • I think “Frankly”‘s comments above pretty much make the case for not doing video. This is what gives people motion sickness and turns them off of the medium altogether.

  • I tried to do my own videos and it is much harder than it looks. The ROI on diy video for an agent is practically zero… Having said that, i am lucky to have a very talented camera man that is a wiz with the steady cam, only charges $200 a video and normally has a turn around time of 2-3 days… Check out Tom’s videos: http://www.kvtours.com/index-2.html

    Yes, it is different from photos and no it will never replace photos. I think the two mediums have a synergistic effect, however, as a listing tool because so few agents use REAL video. I sympathize with those that feel video has some shortcomings, most notably the lighting issue. It is possible to gel the windows if it is that big of a problem. We have done this in the past and the difference is quite amazing. The only problem is that it does require more prep time and ultimately more money.

    Here is how I see it; as an agent that does my own photography, it costs me nothing in terms of cash (just time), the video is a couple hundred dollars, the site hosting and extras another $100, and finally the typical real estate items (lockbox, signage, etc.) another $200… So for $500 and 10 hours of my own time I can offer a marketing package that blows away my competition. The average comm. in my area is approximately $5000. As an agent, the ROI on this approach is very acceptable. Now if all I did was photography and had no vested interest in the comm., then I would probably not see things the same way…

  • Your preaching to the converted here…In our part of the world video has arrived and it is here to stay, video is now an important part of our business and service we offer.

  • Larry.Maybe if you could find out what Vendors want and then adjust.If they want it I will do it,most dont.
    This is an exercise in people selling what they want rather than listening to Vendors.

  • It’s interesting to see some of these comments. I’m not doing any video and I have yet to speak to any buyers who have any interest in watching videos. To me it sounds cool in concept, but attention spans seem to be short and not many people want to sit and wait through a video. Stills allow them to stop and move forward at their own pace. That being said, clearly there is a market, because some people are making a living out of it.

  • Geoff: I use a 5D Mark II for photos and video. I do all the narration myself generally, but oftentimes get the homeowner to talk about their home which is far more interesting! The agent provides the highlights and if I prod them, an actual script. Otherwise I write it myself.

  • Thomas: You need to understand HOW video works. Video is not the FIRST thing that a buyer sees. Buyers search on specific criteria, they read a description and they quickly click through the photos. THEN, if they are still interested, they download and watch the video. If they don’t like what they see in photos, they don’t even bother with video. Video is the LAST thing they see, not the first.

    And if they get to that part, they watch it from beginning to end…. oftentimes more than once… scrutinizing every single detail (noting where the closets are, how the rooms flow, looking through the windows, etc.) The length of the video is less of an issue than many people think, and the idea of not being able to ‘control’ the tour is NOT an issue at all. It’s NOT a spin around tour – they don’t look at “spins”… they actually walk through the house as if they were actually there. I actually even drive through the neighborhoods and show community amenities as well. And of course, you’re telling a good story along with the tour.

    And for those who say nobody will watch a 6 minute video? It’s like a wedding video – if it’s YOUR wedding, you’ll watch the entire thing over and over. If it’s NOT your wedding, you’ll be bored after 2 minutes! If you’re watching real estate video as ‘entertainment’ – it’s as DULL as watching grass grow. If you’re watching real estate video because you’re seriously interested in BUYING that specific house – you will watch it with great interest.

    Videos should not be compared to “spin tours” where you twirl in a circle, nor should they be compared to zooming slideshows of still photographs. It’s a completely, totally different animal. You can’t compare it by price or by functionality…. it’s just not the same thing.

    Buyers LOVE them because it saves them time visiting a home that ISN’T what they thought based on the best “selected” photos that are shown – because they’re seeing the entire house. Sellers LOVE them because they don’t waste time cleaning, getting rid of pets, toys, kids, etc. for buyers who walk in the front door and immediately realize the home isn’t ‘for them’. Most people already “know” their way around the house after they see a video. It creates an infinitely more serious customer, therefore not wasting the time of sellers, brokers, and buyers.

    And don’t even start on the benefit to agents – it is THE single best listing tool out there. EVERY agent will get EVERY listing if they offer video – because their competition ISN’T. And sellers totally see the value of video over any other marketing in this economy.

    In fact, most of my business is from the competition of my current clients. They know if THEY don’t walk into a listing appointment offering what their competitor offers – they will LOSE that listing.

  • Fred,

    I’m impressed you do that with the 5D. I’ve never tried it, but imagined it as a bit difficult to walk with off tripod. Being a Nikon guys, here’s to hoping the next D700s/D800 (?) will have decent video capabilities, and soon.

    By the way, I agree with your use of video assessment.
    Some of the large projects by me could be greatly assisted by exterior, fixed position ‘ambient environmental’ clips; ie. leave the camera mounted on the beach boardwalk as it captures the sounds of the surf and birds & people passing by.

    Since you are using a DSLR, what sort of lens for the room-to-room shots? 50mm to keep it ‘normal’, or wider and risking fish bowl effects?

  • I use a 17-40 wide angle for the walk thru, mounted on a Steadicam Merlin. I use a 70-200 for closeups/ architectural details, etc. You really need a wide angle for real estate, but you can’t get TOO wide or it begins to resemble those horrible “fun house” tours. I’m probably somewhere around 30-40mm most of the time depending on the room size.

  • I think sooner or later if you stay in this business your are going to have to offer some type of video. Rather than doing all video and fighting those window and lighting problems I started offering a video tour made with both video clips and stills. I am now picking up agents on the larger homes on lakes and with mountain views and taking them from the 360 panorama guys. Also more sellers are having their agents call me. By just adding a few clips, they are easy to do and it only adds a few more minutes to the time it takes me to make a slideshow. Here is a sample:

    http://southernhomephotography.com/video_629highlandlakescove.html

  • As an agent, HD video has been a big selling point for my clients! My sellers think it is awesome and I have received good feedback from buyers interested in the homes I have shot.

    I started over a year ago when I bought the 5D Mk II, with the 17-40. I was unsuccessful in getting any steady cam set up to work (under $500) and really liked the ability (and artistic effect) of zooming. So I switched my video tasks to a Sony DSC-HX1. The zoom effect is perfect. At 28mm, the barrel distortion is minimal. The quality is not up with the 5D, but the usability is far greater and it is way more efficient. Everything is shot on 701hdv pan head & tripod.

    Here is a recent example:
    http://www.englishhilltwostory.com/video.htm

  • I disagre with the fact that a video is helping the agent. Pictures are more then enough to take the decisin to go and take a look. Agents actualy will loose clients because of a video. I’m not talking here about top houses but about regular houses … Imagine a guy that likes the photos but not the video … when he goes to the house to take a look maybe the agent is able to sell the house to him but if he never goes the sell is lost. If you ask me, we do not work for the guy that is buying the house, but for the agent and agents are loosing potential leads because of a videos. Again I’m not talking about milon dolar houses here …

  • I agree with Fred 100%. We started offering video almost a year ago in addition to our professional photography services and we’ve been very busy. The majority of our work as well comes from referrals: both photo & video services. It is a little difficult to “sell” the video service to the majority of agents that assume its the same as a virtual tour. Technology is steadily advancing… just like virtual tours were an advancement from still photos, video tours are the advancement from virtual tours. It will take some time but we truly believe video will accompany real estate marketing just as stills and traditional virtual tours do today.

  • At first I had mixed thoughts and feelings about video. It has its advantages, one of which, in particular that stands out is the ability to be more personable with the viewers as displayed on Tony Meier’s example. However, I still feel traditional photography can/still does provide more advantages, such as being able to properly convey and capture a room, and giving the viewer the option/advantage of stopping to admire/reflect upon the photo, not to mention far superior image quality and color correction/high dynamic range opportunities. Color correction is extremely hard/non-existent for any real estate videographer, as most pro-processes can cost upwards of $250,000 (not quite sure about pro-sumer or personal applications/processes though).

    I may consider implementing video services in the near future, only because it may provide both an additional revenue stream and increased exposure.

  • I have had a few inquires as of late so I may add video to the mix later this year. I had pretty high end HD equipment with professional grade wide angle lenses back in 2006 and sold so little video tours I gave up and eBay’d it all off to just stay focused on stills.

    I guess with YouTube and other video services more and more popular and broadband spreading to more households, there is a greater awareness and ability for video to become more mainstream for listings.

    I’m open to adding it back to the mix, but after I gave up trying to add it as a service I had ZERO requests or inquiries for video in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Only recently have I had both phone calls from prospects and current clients ask if I shot video too.

  • (I commented on this blog yesterday but it never went through)

    Video is here to stay guys – and it is the future. If you can find an effective way to offer stills AND video on a professional level, you can carve a real niche for yourself, with additional revenue streams liken voice overs, Realtor cameos ect.

    Creatively, it is awesome! I am really able to showcase the home AND the Realtor. I started doing video 6 – 8 months ago and never looked back. All my clients love the video and they all want if over the 360’s.

    But like Fred said, it is isn’t easy. I spend about a year learning video, buying software, getting a new computer ect.

    Sort of like what John does, I do a combination of video and photography with a very cinematic / Hollywood look.

    here is recent examples:
    http://gainesville360.com/312266

    Cheers,
    Aaron

  • I have agents that sell video in a package with photography and floor plans and that’s how I see video fits in, It’s an add on to photography and other services such as floor plans. I think photography will always be the backbone of visual media marketing and video will personalize the experience of the the new home, it puts the viewer or potential buyer in the home, it’s a visual and audio experience. Creatively I find it’s satisfying as I have the challenge of creating something emotional relating to the property, with music, voice over and recording/editing techniques. Video may just create a positive emotional response for the buyer putting them there in the home. Purchasing the home is an emotional experience, there are features of the home or the location or both that provokes an emotional response to buy or spend the perceived value of the home, I think video strengthens and supports the photography to create the inquiry’s to inspect the home and assists in weeding out the right buyer.

    I like the efficiency of the DSLR’s such as the 5D mkii, one camera with lens does the lot photography, flick a switch and your in video mode.

    here are some recent examples I have created with the 5D mkii
    http://www.open2view.com.au/hdvideo/109164.html
    http://www.open2view.com.au/hdvideo/114665.html
    http://www.open2view.com.au/hdvideo/114668.html

  • Video will become more important when it comes to selling real estate. As property websites advance people are expecting to see photos for certain and even 360 property tours to get a good idea of a property before they waste time going to see it. As things move on if you don’t have these people will expect you have something to hide.

  • I still have to comment from a consumer standpoint. I believe 360’s to be one of the best solutions for real estate (and not just because I provide/produce them), as it places the viewer in the room and allows them to be in control. Voice-over, interactive floor plans and navigations can be put in place also, something you cannot do with video. Video is taken from a controlled viewpoint and allows no user flexibility, simply put, it shows the viewer only what it is programmed to show the viewer, in essence being very restrictive.

    Part of the reason why people knock virtual tour’s is because there are too many crap ones out their! If you want to see a nice one that i have produced, which is FULL 360 x 180 in HD FULL SCREEN, check it out here:
    http://www.360virtualtours.ca/demo/metro.html

    Consumer’s like to be in control over viewing a property, a video may be nice for hooking a visit, but a virtual tour will truly showcase a home inside and out, down to every last detail. Want to look at the trim? Wall socket placements, Ethernet outlets, central heating vents? No problem, virtual tours allow you to take your time and really assess the home like this, which is really an important aspect to the home buying process.

  • I have just started to experiment with video workflow with my 5D. I have a friend in Toronto who also shoots real estate full time, and he is already shooting video plus the still images he already shoots for existing clients. For him, demand is high, and growing. I plan on offering video on top of my still photography services very soon. We started to collaborate on workflow and production and hosting issues last year, because we could both see the potential for good profit, and the ability to keep up with future real estate marketing demands. As the use of Netbooks and Tablets and Smartphones(iPhones) grows, so does the relevence of video in real estate marketing. There is a lot to learn, and one has to really sit down and work out all the issues involved in production, and price your work accordingly. I see the potential to more than double what I make now on each home I visit, by adding video production to my services.

  • I have looked at Open to View, videos are, good Photography needs work.Who else is out there doing this service in Australia.If its taken off I would like to see more.

  • Hi Rob- Brett Clement at propvid.tv works out of Brisbane, AU and is a great example of what can be done with video for real estate.

  • Thanks Larry there are lot of Propvids Melb Sydney and Brisbane, one company?

  • Hey Rob,

    I run the Sunshine Coast arm of PlatinumHD Propvid. Our clients love our product and all of them see the value of video in modern real estate marketing. I think it’s a great marketing tool, when used properly and definitely here to stay.

    There are a couple of different Propvid offices around the country, each of them is run a little differently. Here in Queensland we operate under the name PlatinumHD – Propvid Australia. If you’re keen on seeing some of our latest work, check out our site http://www.platinumhd.tv as you’ll see it’s for all properties, great and small. 🙂

    I’m a filmmaker first and foremost and ran my own production company for 5 years before starting with PlatinumHD. It’s not hard to produce Real Estate video, these days anybody with a camera and a computer can do it. What is challenging is producing good real estate video. Just because you can frame a nice shot and take a photo doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll come up trumps with a video. If it was me, I’d give it a go with some cheap gear first before splashing out on the more expensive stuff, that way if doesn’t turn out you haven’t taken too much of a hit.

    Christian

  • Christian, hello from new zealand (don’t hold that against me!) you are killing it! you can see clearly you are a filmmaker, everyone else has work to do to get to your standard, simply amazing. You are quite right, any man with a camera can shoot video, but to have your vision and skills show exactly what it is about!

  • Thanks Guys I have looked at quite a few of the links etc, all very nice.
    Lets not get too carried away….Film makers lol. Its doubtful we’ll be seeing Real Estate Videos on Fox Classics in 20 years.

  • Hello from the Denver area. I just did my first video tour last week. I had read all of the posts here up till last Friday. And found the information helpful.

    It’s a video that is meant to appeal to a younger tech savvy, YouTube, social media crowd. Not meant to be TV quality. And as my usual photography, it is not meant for magazines, but high quality reasonably priced to get potential buyers into the home.

    I now do wish I had bought an HD camera last year when I purchased my first video camera. As it would match better to the photos that I incorporated into the video. I am used iMovie which I found to be so much better than Microsoft Movie Maker.

    I would like some feedback on the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awNe5ace-CE

    We did not do a virtual tour on this home….but, this is a sample of what I usually produce for a virtual tour. http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?t=2104239&prt=10003

    I am still trying to figure out the pricing for the video process.

  • @Grape- Looks pretty acceptable to me for a walk-through type video. 5 minutes may be a little too long. The problem I can see is that you are not always going to have a Realtor as good at doing the narration as Hope is. She does a good job… but what do you do when you don’t have a Hope?

  • @ Pete: Cheers mate! I’m getting there, but it’s a constant learning curve.

    @ Rob: With resppect, I take exception to that comment. I referred to us as filmmakers because that’s what we are. None of us at PlatinumHD started by tentatively dipping a toe into the real estate video market, we are all from a production background. Sure nobody’s going to see Propvid’s on Fox Classics in 20 years, but the subject matter shouldn’t dictate that we put anything less than our best efforts into every shoot.

  • Video takes waaaay too long to load and watch for buyers. Who wants to wait and watch a video for 15min?? My wife is a perfect example of the typical busy buyer who is looking at 20-30 houses and doesn’t have time to watch it all to get an idea.

    This is where 360 panoramas do it best… they are quick and easy and give buyers a perfect view of the layout of the home without having to sit there waiting to see what you want to see. Sellers also get the same WOW factor out of it.

    Video for me is a not a good sell, in fact I take a lot of business away from the Video guys in my area because of it.

    Nothing wrong with Video, just not for the average home in a busy real estate market which is 90% of homes. Volume is key.

  • To date, we’ve produced over 6,000 real estate videos in our little corner of Queensland alone and we have a new Crew just starting up in Miami, Florida. The difference between the two markets is, in Australia, VPA (vendor Paid Advertising) is well-established. This means there is ‘slightly’ more money to go around. The advent of technology like the 5DMII means we can bring two skill sets to the table, simultaneously – cinematography and photography, delivering more bang for the buck. Providing you don’t go overboard and launch full HD sized 1920 x 1080 files, I find video over the Internet – even with third world Australian speeds – more than acceptable. I certainly don’t go rushing home to watch a slide show on my TV. The role of video in property will change. I see a blend of both arts. There are scenes where video kills. Like. Anything that moves. And there are other scenes which demand the power of photography in terms of flash/image blend/HDR etc. Like print working with other forms of media, there is a time and a place for everything. Nothing will ever kill the simple beauty of a well-framed photograph that captures the moment. And I doubt nothing will ever convey the power of an F18 taking off than cinematography.

  • My company’s been doing wedding video & photo for several years but have just recently opened up to real estate video and photo work. It’s picking up like wildfire and we’ve hardly marketed anything; once we did a couple, and people have seen the caliber we offer (every video is shot 1080p on Canon 7Ds; photos are done with the same), we’ve been getting request after request. There’s been a market here (in Oregon) for who knows how long and we’re just getting on board.

    We shoot everything with the Tokina 11-16mm, and I can’t recommend it more. ZERO barrel distortion, even at 11, and the perspective skew is barely noticeable. This lens, even with our APS-C sensor running it in about 17mm, stretches even the smallest of rooms to expansive proportions — a must-have for this type of work.

    Cheers,
    J

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