Good Morning America Article on Video Tours

March 15th, 2009

Today while following a thread in the PFRE flickr discussion group about virtual tours I noticed a link that Fred Light has on his site to an article titled “Sell Your Home With Video Tours” and a video clip from a recent episode of ABC’s Good Morning America.

The message of the article is:

  1. 360 tours used to the the most popular form of tour.
  2. Video tours are replacing 360s as the most important type of tour.
  3. Websites with video tours have 78% higher average time on the site.
  4. Many agents and home sellers are hoping video tours will help get their homes sold in this down market.

As a Realtor or real estate photographer, whether or not you agree with this article I think it is important to understand the trend going on in tour usage. When home sellers see these types of articles and programs in the mainstream media they are going to be asking their agent questions on this subject and agents will in turn be asking photographers about video tours. Both should be ready to talk about video.

Every year about this time (I haven’t done it yet this year) I do a survey of the kind and number of tours that are being used on the NWMLS in the Seattle area. This gives a data point on that trends are occurring in one geographic area. Here are some observations I’ve made as a result of these past surveys and just talking to a lot of real estate photographers and tour vendors:

  1. In the Seattle area overall tour usage increased from 8% in  Feb of 2007 to 14.3% in Feb of 2008.
  2. Usage of video tours was up significantly between Feb 2007 (.6%) and Feb 2008 (2.8%) in the Seattle area.
  3. The increase in video tours was almost all due to one video tour vendor. This suggests that tour product marketing is a more important factor in tour usage than agent demand. Most agents are not technical and can be sold a product if the marketing is good.
  4. I’ve had more than one tour vendor tell me that many agents and viewers don’t know the difference between Ken Burns panning and video.
  5. Many viewers and tour users say they are impatient and don’t like tours that you can’t control and skip around. But once a buyer is serious about a home they are more likely to watch a several minute video that they can’t control.

One thing I’ve picked up from talking to a number of real estate photographers and agents through out the US and the world is that tour usage patterns appear to very widely with geography. It’s difficult or impossible to generalize about tour usage.

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11 Responses to “Good Morning America Article on Video Tours”

  • I am curious, for your data point #2, what do you define as a video tour? Just ken burns stills, or actual video?

    Point #5 is important. I’ve always said that video is fine as long as it’s not the only thing. I still feel that video is outside the price range for most people (most complain about $125 for a photo tour) and video is still much more time-consuming. I think that video is picking up because it’s trendy but I still feel that there is an artificial ceiling on video adoption because it’s hard to make look good at a reasonable price.

    Even worse is that you can’t *just* do video. Because video isn’t a good standalone product for sites (ie it shouldn’t be the only thing) you also have to do nice stills. This means that a tour with video gets to $300 which is a tough sell for any property under $300k and of course this limits its potential. Your market may vary of course. Every unit in NYC could afford to have a video because of the value of property in that area.


  • Alan- In #2 just counted action video.

  • I am actively working to bring these in my service spectrum. It’s not just buying a video camera…
    On the other hand, no idea how my customers will recieve them… on this “drought”
    time will tell.

  • […] Source and Read More: […]

  • A little off topic, but had me wondering after your blog on copyrights a few weeks ago……

    I wonder if Coldplay knows a company like is using their music and making money off it?

  • I’ve thought about video heavily myself but IMHO it does not serve more than a narrow range of purposes right now.

    – My wife, who is an agent, recently had buyers back out of a mutual because they sat down to watch a video they took of the house and decided they didn’t like it. A poorly taken video can definitely do harm.

    – Her agency automatically provides a panning tour with audio for free for listings over a certain amount, which means I need to convince agents of the value of a real video over a panning video.

    – To be honest, neither I nor my wife have ever seen a video that improved our opinions of the property. Most videos are either too long or do not show anything the pictures do not.

    – Given that I have a 5D Mark II, I considered whether I could make some more money with a video tripod + editing software. Agents I asked thought video was cool, but weren’t willing to pay anything worth taking the time to do it.

    Probably the only time I have seen video being truly helpful is for more expensive properties that attract out of town buyers.

  • Personally I think a well made still image has more impact than a moving image. An example, the movie made of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima vs. the still image. Although we see movement, our brain remembers still images.

  • As a Listing Agent who is charged with representing the best interests of my Sellers, I prefer still photos to video. Very few of us live in our homes as though it were a movie set. I’ve seen some amateur property videos that would make the “worst MLS photo of the day” look wonderful. Could be a great idea for high end properties, new construction and builders but not for most resale property IMHO.

  • The advantage I see with a TRUE video walk through is that a buyer can actually see the FLOW of the home. How the rooms connect. They can see the neighborhood. They can see the beach nearby or other salable amenities. They can get the STORY of why they want to LIVE in that home.

    Photos are great for capturing that initial interest, but let’s face it – photos are shot of the BEST rooms in the BEST light at the BEST angles – and often times are not indicative of the the HOUSE looks like, but what a specific ROOM (at the best angle of course) looks like.

    Real estate buyers (heck, I think ALL buyers, especially younger buyers) today want complete and total TRANSPARENCY. They don’t want to see a “tease” of the house. They don’t want to see what YOU allow me to see. They don’t want to see JUST the best rooms – they want to see EVERYTHING – just as they would if they were touring in person.

    They also do NOT want a house salesperson either. They are doing THEIR research on their own time getting their own information – not clouded by someone who wants to sell them something or get put on a mailing list of endless spam. If today’s realtors don’t sell to today’s buyers the way they WANT to be “sold”, they’re going to lose out. They want complete and total transparency.

    Personally, that’s where I see the true value of a video walk through. It truly IS the next best thing to actually being there. Especially for buyers out of state or even local – there are SO many properties on the market that it can be physically impossible to personally view them all, and yet you want to see as much as you can BEFORE you trek out and BEFORE you initiate contact with a house salesman.

    Many old school Realtors don’t understand this. They think it’s wrong, but it’s irrelevant what they THINK. It also probably is why the job of a Realtor will be dramatically changing very quickly, just as it did in the travel industry. Realtors will be more of a consultant towards the END of the transaction, rather than a salesperson. Buyers are taking total control of the front half of this transaction. This is how it’s being done today and you can read study after study that bears this out.

    Photography will NEVER, EVER be replaced by video. Video is an additional benefit, and one that serves an entirely different purpose than still photography.

  • My organization has been working on a high-quality video tour for some time now. I think the largest benefit we have seen is that it does increase the amount of time that clients are staying on the site. Also, google has been making video pretty sticky, so it has been a way to promote listings effectively.
    Our video product can be seen at:

  • […] Lohman from Photography for Real Estate blog points us to a recent story on ABC’s Good Morning America, which discusses the power of […]

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