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Covid-19: A Wake Up Call for Real Estate Marketers

Author: Charlie Dresen

Real estate is changing and no one is looking back. Therefore, agents and any industries that support the real estate community––photographers to videographers to stagers, all need to be aware as well. I see this as an opportunity––a differentiator to set your business up for success. Real estate is a service industry and those agents offering more services will be the ones who thrive in these challenging times. As well, those agents will be looking for creative partners who not only offer professional photos and videos, but offer more services that allow potential buyers to view a home utilizing technology.

Being a real estate agent for 17 years, I’ve seen first-hand how technologies have transformed the industry and my business. For those of you who don’t know, I’m also a creator and I use video extensively to boost my business. I see firsthand, the growth of my business directly correlates with the use of these technologies. It’s my philosophy that to be successful in an over-saturated market, one needs to elevate their game and offer more relevant services than the competition. In real estate, this is no different but when the market tightens, or the industry changes like it is TODAY, the cream rises to the top.

The real estate business is OPEN. But some states are not allowing “showings” or “open houses.” So, without showings, how can the real estate business continue? Well, this is where opportunity occurs.

With Covid-19, real estate is pivoting rapidly. The buzz is “virtual tours” or “virtual open houses.” It’s all about bringing the home to the buyers. This is not a huge shift for some progressives within the industry. As many of us know, many agents have been utilizing these tools for years now. But with the current health crisis, these technologies have become mandatory to sell a home. It’s highlighting technologies like video, 3D tours, or even Facetime or Zoom “open houses.” More importantly, it’s educating the general public to expect more from the real estate community––to be able to accurately see, understand, and transact real estate remotely. This is not only important in our current situation, but also into the future when buyers will appreciate the ability to do a lot of the pre-work of viewing properties remotely prior to, or even all the way through closing.

So, in today’s real estate market, agents are scrambling to get videos made, to get 3D tours of their listings; many are even pulling out their smartphone and shooting videos for social media. Whatever it takes to get noticed in the market today, many agents are playing catch-up. That said, I can’t overstress the importance of quality. A professional real estate video that not only tells a story, but is visual appealing and draws buyers in with emotions will go much further than a walk-through shot on an iPhone.

See example here.

I also believe there will be a new wave of technologies directly resulting from these real estate industry changes.

When we emerge from this pandemic, the real estate industry will have progressed forward. The “new normal” for real estate will be a lot less driving around viewing homes and a lot more of the preliminary efforts being done online. What if every home for sale had a 3D tour and a personalized video? Utilizing these tools will not only save time, but will help streamline the efforts for buyers and sellers and improve the overall experience.

Thus, for creators out there, if it hasn’t happened yet, expect to get more requests for 3D tours, for videos, for personal walk-throughs––anything you can think of to help bring the home to the buyers will be needed. For those real estate agents looking for a boost, reach out to photographers, video makers, companies that make 3D tours, and make sure all your listings utilize these marketing technologies.

The effect Covid-19 is having on the real estate industry is profound. But more importantly, it’s educating the public of these marketing tools and moving forward, sellers will demand these technologies be used to market and sell their home. And buyers will begin to expect to see these technologies being used when they browse for homes online. We are not looking back. Real estate is undergoing changes daily and it’s time to adapt.

Charlie Dresen is a Realtor and real estate photographer/videographer based in Steamboat Springs, CO.

9 comments on “Covid-19: A Wake Up Call for Real Estate Marketers”

  1. All fine and good in a booming market.... Everyone should expect, know that that there is a huge recession coming... Be it short term or not, nobody should kid themselves that the shut down of the whole world is going to just start up and continue where it left off. Only a fool would count on that.

    The RE market is all but shut down now, those that are going forward are using all the toys stated, but that is a fraction of the past. Once the egg heads open up our freedoms, there will be a hesitation to do anything for quite awhile...until folks can feel confident about the economy.

    Agree that you should have these skills ready to use...but then, who is going to pay for them? Most realtors I know are in a panic about the looming recession.

  2. I am in the process of redoing my website, and ran across a podcast I was on in 2006... I haven't heard it in a decade, so I gave it a listen.

    Interestingly enough, I was talking about how the real estate market had tanked, and at the same time, how MY business was thriving! Why? Agents were still selling houses (they are ALWAYS still selling houses, maybe just not as many or as easily or quickly as in recent years). They needed HELP. They needed help marketing these homes in tough times. I was marketing my video tours back then as a way for buyers to save money on GAS... gas prices were sky high and they didn't want to waste gas driving all over the place viewing homes that weren't quite what they were looking for, yet they didn't realize that until they got inside the home.

    I was selling agents on using video tours to eliminate the "looky-loos", the neighbors, the bored.... those who waste the time of agents and sellers who really aren't interested in the home. They could get visibility on their listing without worrying if high gas prices were keeping away potential buyers.

    Essentially, the video was a FIRST SHOWING. If someone was seriously interested in the home, and set up an appointment with an agent to see it personally, it effectively was a SECOND SHOWING.

    That's how I sold my business 15 years ago... and fast forward to today... it's kind of exactly the same concept!

    I truly believe everything will be shrinking... there will be far fewer agents still in the business, and also far fewer real estate photographers as well. The well established, successful agents will still be successful, and will still pay for marketing because they KNOW it's more important now than ever. Homes will sell, albeit slower and over a longer period of time. The well established real estate photographers and videographers, who have established relationships over many years with the most successful agents, will benefit from that too, and will thrive as well.

  3. Well said Fred - same story, just a new era. You've been offering a superior service for years now and have established a very successful business model.

    The wake up call today is a little more pronounced.

    I'm interested to see what new technologies come from these new limitations and demands.

    Charlie

  4. New tech = change. I just bought an iPhone 11, with the ultra wide camera. Using FilmicPro, which allows camera setting similar to regular cameras, and shoots LOG, a user that already knows how to shoot, edit, and process video can make videos that are indistinguishable from using a larger more cumbersome setup. I'm able to add 3 videos per day to my workload, because of saved editing time, and saved shooting time. From the phone, during driving time, the video clips are transferred to a RAVPOWER Filehub, that way, they are already on a card when I sit down to edit. iPhone to desktop transfer is futzy, even using airdrop.

    I've also been delving into the accessibility features on the iPhone. Filmic and the gimbals rarely work in unison, so using voice commands to start/stop recording saves time and haptic trouble of trying to stick your finger through the gimbal to start recording.

    In any case, it still requires the same shooting discipline to get good results.

  5. I'm hoping the RE photography industry changes a bit. Independents should find their rightful place as visual marketing EXPERTS. This is what the tour companies market themselves as but they are cookie cutters using poorly incentivized contractors at inflated prices. Any independent who can offer photos, floor plans, video and some form of 3D tour can beat them out of their market. And that's not even including the benefit of working with YOU instead of a faceless virtual tour company.

    @Fred Light

    I would say you're company is a great example. Bravo.

  6. There are the key words "relevant tech". Not gimmicks or cute stuff, but solid visual marketing products that agents can use right now. I've been doing more cold calling than ever and the agents that are willing to chat a bit are telling me that they are being very parsimonious with their marketing budgets. Sales are down which means commission checks are getting farther apart. It also doesn't sound like RE associations/MLS's are rolling back membership fees and charges.

    Some areas have severe travel restrictions so "virtual" showings aren't a good option. Zoom is also under fire for very poor data security.

    Video is now on the minds of agents in my area. A few I talk to are using their phone to make videos. I caution them that they need to be careful to not make people seasick. I haven't come across an agent phone video that was worth the time to view. As it's a new service for me, I am offering a substantial discount off of my planned regular pricing and even including limited drone video if I don't need to get an Airspace Authorization. Video is an add-on service outside of my home town since I still have to make enough to justify the travel. I've done 5 walk through videos so far and I'm very happy with how quickly I'm getting better at coming back with good steady footage. I just received a glidecam stabilizer yesterday that I plan on playing with over the next couple of days to go with the Moza Air gimbal I already have. The Cheese Grater is just shy of a maximum RAM load and I installed 8 cores of 3gHz processors along with a couple of SSD drives. Editing borders on real time now and I'm having fun with it.

    I'd like to be charging what should be the proper price for my video services, but I also need to get revenue coming in the door so I have cash for those back alley toilet paper purchases from the back of a white van. I think I've found a good formula for a very basic walkthrough video that is easy to shoot and quick to edit. I'll save the cinematic master piece attempts for later when I've honed my basic skills and there are customers that are willing to pay what they are worth to produce. In the mean time, taking an income hit to make sure that good agents in my area can stay in business should be good for MY long term prospects.

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