How Are you Pricing Real Estate Video?

December 26th, 2014

Denise recently asked the following:

I would be interested to hear how other photographers price real estate photos when asked for an add-on video tour.  Even if you structure a tour using the same or similar images from the stills, there is obviously added work to put together the tour video.  Realtors of course would like the video just thrown in or at minimal cost.  I am starting out at the videos and would value advise to structure a fair fee where I’m not taken advantage of nor pricing my services out of the market.  As I see it producing the tour is nearly as time consuming as the rest of the editing and should be an added cost of nearly the same value as the shoot.  Maybe I’m off base.  Feedback and advise?

There are a number approaches being taken to property video out there. What you charge depends mostly on which approach you use. Since doing video is more generally more difficult that shooting still photos it should be priced as a separate product, not an add-on, unless you are referring to YouTube videos generated from stills (#4 below):
  1. Cinematic video: in this approach you use a slider and/or a crane to shoot a unique story or view of the property and use a music track to narration soundtrack. This type of video is much more difficult and time-consuming than doing a still shoot so you need to charge much more (2 or 3 times a still shoot).
  2. Walk through video: in this approach you use a stabilizer of some type and walk through the property showing the major areas of the property. This kind of video is going to take as much time as a still shoot so you’ll need to charge at least as much as a still shoot, probably more.
  3. Tactical video: Tourbuzz.net allows you to shoot short video clips and insert them into a traditional tour of still shots. Perhaps the agent introducing the property or clips of features that benefit from video. This approach takes much less time on site and editing so you’ll need to charge more than stills but not that much, unless you need to spend a lot of time with the agent coaching and directing them. This is probably the place to start out in video. This is real video and can add real value but it is not as difficult and you don’t have to charge as much as #1 or #2 above.
  4. Automatically generated YouTube “video” from still photos: There are many ways to automatically generate this kind of “video” and there are thousands of them out there. They cost very little to generate and they really aren’t video they are just stills presented in a different, lower quality form. Tourbuzz.com charges $5 to automatically generate a branded and unbranded youtube video from your still tour. I think you are better off forgetting this option!
What you charge for any of these should carefully consider your local market.
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15 Responses to “How Are you Pricing Real Estate Video?”

  • Price depends also length of video. I have two price categories, so far we have tried many different lengths but on statistics we can see over 2 min are too long. And these results are not only on my own videos, same thing happens some colleagues. Also 3D Walkthru is coming on the market and I would say it can be really good product in future. http://www.halstead.com/about-us/marketing/3dwalkthru

  • We price our video tours on value to the agent to help sell a home rather than how long it takes to shoot and create. Since our interactive virtual tours really are virtual tours – rather than a ‘virtual tour’ video made from still photos, we charge more than a still photographer. A real virtual videos turn means out-of-town buyers and agents (24/7) can ‘walk-around’ as if they are there.

  • What about editing, transcoding, exporting, uploading, hiring a voiceover artist, etc? Everything addressed above is how long it takes to actually SHOOT the house, but isn’t that the easiest and fastest part of doing video? Don’t you need super powerful computers and massive amounts of storage drives as well?

  • Thank you for redefining what is a real video and what is a video format used to create a slide show. This is a problem I have found in talking to clients who don’t seem to know the difference. So educating your clients should follow the format in the introduction discussion here. And yes, actually shooting the video is the easiest and fastest part of the production. I have been shooting walk thru videos for years. As opposed to stills, you can’t hide “stuff” off to the out of sight part of the room since you actually walk through the house and what is hidden in one angle is in view from the next. Then the files become huge to store and download. The editing is very time consuming especially when coupled with music and voice overs and I alway put in other sounds like the water noises from fountains, birds singing and so on which requires removing the actual sound recorded of airplaines, weed whackers, lawn mowers, air conditioners, barking dogs, emergency vehicle howls etc. all something not an issue with stills. Not to mention the blue language of the photographer themselves when walking into a sharp coffee table. Or the client walkinging into a particularaly difficult walk thru sequence. So yes, this should be made very clear to the client right up front since they often think that “well since you are there anyway, can you just throw in a few minutes of video?” But to do this right, I have found, definately takes much more time than a still shoot and the subsequent processing. And you can’t use flash to illuminate the interiors. And the video, if you use YouTube to host it, all takes time to convert to the right format and then to upload, put in descriptions, key words, setting, links, locations etc. Sort of like doing a Tourbuzz twice.

    I think many clients will find the price to cover such productions will exceed their budgets based on their margins. Probably only work for multi million dollar properties. Having said that, I have found that a drone clip that established the house and its location in reference to where the property is located and the kind of landscaping it is surrounded by plus any additional structures, swimming pool(s) etc can be just a minute or two and provides a good start to a Virtual Tour on a company like Tourbuzz. My clients now insist on a Tourbuzz tour for all properties over $1.5 million with a video intro followed by the still photos since the properties sell much faster, the clients feel the realtor is really working on their behalf and since the tour can be turned into a video that can be burned onto a DVD it gives the owner something to remember their home by. And we must understand that part of what we provide is a sales tool for the client themselves to attract and keep listings as well as actually selling the property to buyers.

  • Sorry Larry, I don’t think this poll will ever meet the taste taste, 27 (so far) said they charge $1000 or more for video…..
    They may charge it, but I doubt that ANY agent is paying that, it will be a cold day in hell when that happens. That said, there are probably 1 or two that have done it for special properties, but 99.9999% of the RE Photogs have never seen that kind of client.

    Also surprised that some here think they can define what is and what is not a VT, like it or not the only way they can differentiate themselves is by saying that their virtual tours are shot with a “Video camera”.

    In all the years that video has been around, I still see it struggling to get established in the RE market. I have looked at the technology, programs, the learning curve, agent demand and played with the numbers every year, yet I still can not see a successful business model to make it worth while in my market. The fact that there is no one else doing much of it here is also telling. I am running a full time business, not a weekend warrior. I need to price my products with CODB in mind, I cannot price on the what the value is to an agent.

  • Exactly why would a real estate property need a 7 minute video?

    Most videos longer than 30 seconds do not hold the audience unless really well made and just moving through a home is not. A real estate video should probably be between 30-90 seconds the most. And, it should be a real video.

    A tour video is a bunch of slides and maybe some clips that are put together in a convenient skin with lots of SEO, lead capturing, etc. Both are effective but only if both are well made. When you create a traditional virtual tour, thought and time should be placed in creating the titles, the loading and the narration or music. I sell a lot of tours to realtors that use other photographers for between $175 – $300. It constantly amazes me that the realtor might spend only $150 on a set of photos but $300 on the tour and presentation. We use Real Tour Vision (RTV) and TourBuzz for these tours.

    When we sell a video, it is always between 30 and 90 seconds and starts at $799 and goes up from there. Some of the videos done on this blog are incredible productions that are quite spectacular and we do not produce these spectacular productions for agents as we can’t find agents who a) want them or b) will spend the necessary money on the production and then the syndication and marketing that goes along with the video.

    Do high production value videos sell the home any faster than a tour, do they cost thousands or hundreds or how much. I would be curious to find out the performance of a well made video and how it relates to the sale of the home?

    I could not answer the poll because does not give adequate choices for time and pricing for our business model.

  • @Suzanne F,

    The agents who are spending additional money on video are not doing it to sell the house faster, they are doing it to sell (showcase) their marketing package to future potential clients. A few hundred $$ is nothing to spend now to potentially get a few thousand in new commissions down the road.

    Its what makes them stand out from the other agents when they go for a potential listing.

  • thoughts on video cost – I don’t do many real estate videos. When I do I charge 500 – 600, this is based on my still rates which are $200. The videos take me 2 to 3 times longer than stills, so realistically I need to price higher than stills. This is still reasonable cost for a decent listing in my opinion.

  • @ Jerry,

    There are realtors listing multi-million dollar homes that do pay $1,200 to $2,500 for a complete photo and video package.
    Such homes exist throughout the country. I happen to live in such a market. These realtors are your top 1 or 2 % that know how to market a super high end listing.
    South Florida is a very competitive market for realtors and the very top agents don’t mind paying for marketing materials that will get them and the property noticed.
    BTW: it’s not a cold day in hell here in South Florida now…come on down 🙂 Best Regards and a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year to All.

  • As a Sotheby’s agent, I can say that VIDEO is the buzz word throughout our company – worldwide. And as an agent that has been using video for several years, I can say that video has helped my business immensely. It’s one aspect of real estate that can really set agents apart. Yes, getting an agent to pay $1,000 isn’t easy. But I guarantee you, the first time they hear the buyers say the video was an big influencer of their purchases, they will be sold on video.

    Video is not just for the buyers. Sellers will hire an agent using video over an agent that doesn’t use video. It’s all about marketing the social content an agent uses. It’s a fact that professional photos help a home sell faster and for more money – so video just adds to those efforts.

    But video has to be good to work. It has to add value and move people to act. And if you can create such a video, agents and sellers will pay the prices you want. $500 – $1000 or more is not out of question.

    A good product will sell agents on this service. Once an agent sees the results, they will call you back.

  • As mentioned before, every market is very different when it comes to real estate and marketing. Just as some struggle to sell photography services for $100 with few clients and little interest, others command hundreds of dollars per shoot all day long with a phone that doesn’t stop ringing.

    Exactly the opposite of most, I started my business a decade ago doing ONLY real estate video, and expanded later into still photography. Although I have been able to get $1000+ for real estate video on a few occasions, those jobs (in my market) are few and far between – not enough to ever make a decent living.

    Video is by far more time consuming than stills, and requires far more equipment and a different skill set, therefore pricing really can’t be compared to still photos. With video you need not only the camera, but additional equipment (mics, mixers, fluid head tripods, sliders, stabilizers, jibs, UAVs, many hard drives, fast computers, etc) Most agents won’t generally wait for a week for their tours, and processing HD video (and now 4K video) on a 4 year old laptop is painful and slow, to say the least. I just spent the last week archiving my 2014 shoots, and they take up a full 20 TERABYTE hard drive. And that’s just for 2014….

    But there CAN be a demand depending on your market and how well you market your business. I’ve been busy for going on ten years doing real estate video. This year, even being in bed for two months with a broken hip during the super busy spring market, I STILL shot over 600 video tours this year. Although I had no competition for many, many years, during the past several years there are a good 8-10 people here in my area doing real estate video as well, and in spite of that, my business still keeps growing at a crazy pace – and I get $400-$500+ all day long for photos and video packages. I’ve never had to market myself. In fact, 95% of the calls I receive from new clients (almost daily), the only question I’m asked is “when can you come?”. Video sells itself for those who ‘get it’. I don’t have to justify anything, including price.

    As someone above mentioned, video not only helps sell a property, but it helps sell the agent. They get more listings (and better listings) because of their unique and upscale marketing efforts and generally win out on listing appointments over agents who do not offer video. Sellers LOVE video – having someone make a movie of their house appeals to their ego! And there are so many other benefits over still photography, such as great (and fast) search engine placement, etc. It’s not about only multi million dollar homes either. I shoot video quite regularly on vacant two bedroom condos. It spans all price points.

    I also tire of listening to the so called “experts” who seem to have the magic answer as to the proper length of a real estate video. I’ve heard anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes and 27 seconds and everything in between and beyond. This endless and mind numbing conversation about the “right” length just fries my brain. “Anything longer than that is not effective, etc”……

    Yes, you may not hold EVERY audience’s attention, but you will hold the RIGHT audience’s attention, which is a potential buyer for a specific property – and THAT’S what counts. If I get 1000 hits on a video from a bunch of hee-haws just interested in “house snooping” that drop off after 2 minutes – who cares? THE buyer will watch that video until the very end and then over and over and over and over again. I know this for a fact. Technically, these videos are made for only three people – the agent, the eventual buyer of the house and the seller. All three benefit in different ways. These videos aren’t meant for entertainment.

    I don’t care what casual house snoopers online think, nor do I concern myself with what other photographers or videographers think about “what’s right” and “what’s best”. I only care about my clients – mostly the agents who use me, and THEIR clients – buyers and sellers. When I start hearing complaints about length from THEM (I’ve never heard even one in a decade from an actual customer), I might change my feelings on that. My repeat business is nearly 100% and my phone rings off the hook every day all year for videos – and most run 3-7 minutes (and rarely a bit longer). If agents keep using my videos over and over and over again, year after year, paying my prices, I figure I must be doing something right. I have 1500 subscribers to my YouTube channel which has received almost 1.8M views. Somebody is watching this stuff…..

    I don’t ever look at video “stats” – they’re meaningless in this business. And oddly enough, my clients don’t care about stats either. The only stats they care about is when they beat out another agent for a sweet listing, get 2 new listings that come from their video or a buyer walks in and says the video is what sold them on the house. Those are the only stats they need to justify the expense. THAT’S how they determine their ROI.

    There are many different ways to present a home on video, and they’re all effective in their own ways in different markets and different price points. There’s no pat answer that spans every market, every type of home and every situation except …. quality always counts.

  • What Fred says!

  • Fred, Thank you for sharing your experienced insight.

  • Thanks Fred for sharing.

    @Larry I think doing an article on what equipment the videographers use would be helpful.

    Thanks

  • I’m sticking my neck out here, but somebody needs too. You can’t base product value/worth on duration. It is flawed. A great 30 second Superbowl ad can cost millions. We regularly work with $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 budgets. For videos that only last a few minutes. In the ‘real world’, a $1,000 gets you ‘1’ finished second. As in 1 second. If you’re pulling in $1,000 for seven minutes, is that a good business model?. You might be able to churn out ‘cookie cutter’ formats, if you’re an indie, for a couple of hundred bucks. But how do you scale on that when your Client grows. Sooner, or later, you’ll need help. Employees. Etc. How do you finance great gear for that? Real cameras? Better lenses? Storage? IT? Insurance? Pay taxes? And where’s the profit?
    There are too many pieces involved in a ‘watchable’ production. Something that generates hundreds/thousands/millions of views. And get this – 30% of all of YouTube’s videos get 99% of all the views. 70% of content on YouTube is unwatched.
    I believe we need to step it up. I believe the next phase of real estate video isn’t pumping out more mindless pulp, for cheaper prices. I believe we need to set an industry standard on what we’re all worth an hour. Then, we need a Scale. Based on maybe years in the business, kit and a wild card: God Given. (Macca and I have talked about this for years.) Good films involve more than just turning up and filming homes. They demand a lot of different skill sets. (1) The idea is worth money. (2) Then the script. (3) Then marshalling all the casting/props. (4) Then great music. Not library. (5) Then Editing – and Post/Effects. And (5) Presenting/delivering it in an ad-free/SPAM free environment. Cue Fred Light.
    If you have a good DSLR kit and you’re going to spend 90 minutes shooting a home and doing an Agent Interview (given the travel time and the edit time) what’s that worth?
    I know they pay the kid at the McDonalds Drive Thru in OZ $25 bucks an hour – and the ‘Paddlepop’ Man directing traffic gets $60 an hour.
    Count all the hours you put into to your videos. The Booking. The Administration. Process. Production. Changes. Etc.
    I’d suggest, given all the time you spend on a project and all the expenses you incur, you’re worth at least $500 an hour.
    And if you only produce an awesome 30 second video during that time……at least it is an awesome 30 seconds people will watch.
    I think you guys are worth that.

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