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Shooting Video for Zillow/Trulia Listings

Published: 28/08/2017
By: larry

John in Virginia says:

I am a real estate agent here in Williamsburg. Have been using professional real estate photographers since 2003. Not sure if you have seen the Zillow feature to add video. It can only be uploaded from a phone. Does anyone have a workaround for this? My phone videos suck. I want to use the video shot by a professional. Seems like a silly feature but listings that have those videos are boosted by Zillow to the top of the search.

Zillow/Trulia have two ways to add video to their listings. Here are the guidelines:

  1. The listing agent can become a Premier Agent Direct Subscriber which, among other benefits, allows the agent to upload professionally produced video to the listing. Here's an example. Zillow calls this "enhanced walkthrough video". This costs a bundle. John says it could cost him $3500 in his area depending on how much traffic the listing generates.
  2. The listing agent can hire a Zillow certified photographer to shoot the walkthrough video on a smartphone App. Here's an example on YouTube. YouTube is not involved in the real thing.

I doubt there is any workaround for #2. Video walkthrough videos must be shot and uploaded using the features in the Zillow apps. However, regardless of who is shooting the smartphone video, the key to producing an acceptable walkthrough video is a quality wide angle lens and a quality stabilizer for the smartphone. Both are add-on equipment.

I can recommend the Zeiss ExoLens as a wide angle lens for the iPhone. Joe in Chicago recommends the Samsung wide angle lens for the Galaxy S7. I've not researched smartphone stabilizers yet. What do readers recommend as stabilizers? 

28 comments on “Shooting Video for Zillow/Trulia Listings”

  1. There are many ways to overcome the poor result of a walk-thru video shot with an iphone. A lot of it has to do with technique which most agents don't understand. However, Zillow has given agents the availability of high placement for their listings if they include a walk-thru video so agents are shooting walk-thru videos themselves, however badly. I recently came across one of these godawful videos as the opening tour for a listing we shot. When I mentioned it to the agent she told me she shot it herself to get top placement for her listing. I gave her some tips on panning techniques, etc for the next time she does this. I cringe to think that as a lead-in to the beautiful photos we shot the first thing potential buyers will see is this horrific walk-thru that the agent shot with her iphone.

  2. Intelligent narration that positions a home in the market is one of the key advantages of a walk-through video - and Zillow strips out the sound. You have to wonder about the rationale for that.

    I've been using the Osmo Mobile for video with my Galaxy S7 and am very pleased with it. There are currently less expensive alternatives, including the Zhiyun Smooth Q - $125 vs $299 for the Osmo.

  3. I have had the same experience as Joanna with agents uploading their own horrible quality walk-thru videos. When I was shopping for a home, I quickly started skipping any videos since they were nearly always a waste of time. The problem with Zillow's approach to video content is that it's so bad that even though it gives the listing a preferred placement, it might cause a potential buyer to skip on to the next listing. The last time I asked one of my clients about the Zillow video option, they told me that it's a PIA, it didn't assemble clips in the order they were made and there was no editing. There was also no option to upload a video outside of one made with the "app".

    A big question is whether video is going to be a useful addition to the marketing. The agents in my area use professional stills so little that listings with high quality still photography stand out and video would just be gilding the lily. The quality of the home will play a big part too. If the house is a middle of the road home that isn't well prepped, a video walkthrough might highlight its deficiencies more than it's attributes. With stills, it's much easier to choose a composition or so some radical shoving of stuff off to one side to get a good image. Much trickier with video to do in a short time frame.

    Even with a box of clip on/rubber band on and clamp on devices, a cell phone is still not a very good video camera and in the hands of an agent, it can be even worse than just saying no. "Just because you can doesn't mean you should" ~ Ian Malcolm.

  4. Bottom line it, it has little to do about the video and Most to do about the property placement on Zillow and Trulia. With a simple no frills, 2 minute or less Zillow video, their listing will go to the top of all their listings in the area at the same price point....... for the life of the listing. That is worth $$$. It is a simple add on to anyone providing pro stills.

    That said, a Zillow certified pro can also provide an extended pro video up to 10 minutes with all the whistle and bells you guys are talking about. Through the certified pro, this costs nothing more but the fee charged by the pro taking the video. You don't have to be a Premier Agent.

  5. You can also contact your Zillow rep and email link them the link to video. For a fee (was $149) and Zillow will link the professionally shot video to the listing.

  6. Jerry is right. The only advantage to adding a video through the Zillow app is placement when doing a search on Zillow. Getting a quality result using a phone filming interiors are going to be almost impossible. The app takes over total control of the camera and also crops the frame a bit as well. But, they do a decent job shooting video for exteriors. I suggest that you just shoot a 10-second video (that's the shortest length allowed) of the front exterior of the home and just post that. It doesn't matter if the video is 10-seconds or two minutes, the result is the same as far as placement in searches.

  7. I use the Feiyu G4 stabilizer and absolutely love it.

    I think I paid about $300 for it about a year ago. Now, its only $179. Makes a BIG difference.

    Yeah, Zillow videos are a PITA. No audio. No editing. No changes of sequence on the video clips, so you really have to plan from start to finish before you start shooting. But the fact that it causes your listings to "float to the top" is YUGE.

  8. I have found a workaround that works for me and my occasional clients. (I sell homes and also shoot them for other agents) What I've done with some success is to shoot the video either on my go pro with the Karma gimbal or my iPhone with a DJI gimbal and a Moment wide lens attached and then edit as I like on my Mac and then I set up my phone on a small tripod in front of my Mac and log onto Zillow on my phone as if I was at the house about to do the video walk through, hit play on my Mac and record on my phone and record what is playing on my Mac. There is definitely a degradation of quality but then I've found a)most buyers view these videos on a mobile device/small screen and b) it does boost my listing to the top of the heap and gets it more attention.

  9. Here is a "Zideo" we did for a property.... Zillow app using the Iphone6 plus with the Zeiss ExoLens wide angle on the ExoLens bracket and a Zhuyun Crane. I could not stomach doing walk-throughs so we adapted. But it is still frustrating as hell and we have yet to do one where I say "we nailed it." Here is a recent Zideo.

    Alan - We did your work-around too but the Zillow "police" kept removing the videos!

  10. Again, most who try to "Nail it" with a phone camera are chasing wind mills and wasting their time. As long as you contact a certified pro in the program who is qualified to do "extended" videos, they can upload a professionally filmed video with all the whistle and bells as long as it is not over 10 min, branding is kept to a minimum, etc.

    So, you or someone can shot the whoppie do video with the high end systems, etc, had over the file to the certified Zillow photog and have them upload.... at no extra cost from Zillow (you may end up paying the photog for their trouble if they did not shoot it.)

    Understand that this gimmick places these properties at the top of Zillow and Trulia over all properties without, BUT only on those sites.

  11. As real estate broker and photographer, I use the Zillow app on my own listings and did market the idea a little to other agents. The first video I did with my cell phone and the Zillow app looked as if it was done by a drunk three year old. I bought a small cell phone gimbal off craigslist for $80 and was very happy with the improvement. (I believe it is an older rebranded Zhiyun product.)

    For me, there is huge value in getting the listing to the top of the Zillow search results. I offered this service to other agents for a very reasonable $50 fee. My photography clients are very, well... "price sensitive" and the add-on was not something of interest to them. I even did a couple for free and they didn't use them. It must have been poor education on my part. Our market is pretty hot right now though so it doesn't take much to get a property under contract quickly.

    For now, I'll just keep using it on my listing and impress my seller clients. 🙂

  12. @Robert Boerner,

    Keep in mind that quality photos and other visual marketing has less to do with selling a home and more to do with selling the agent. A hot market is a great time for agents to up their game by using professionals for their photos and video. Homes will be moving faster which means better cash flow and it's easier to absorb the upfront costs of hiring somebody. The market will invariably cool off and agents will be competing for fewer listings with more competition. Using better imagery also means that attracting clients in higher price brackets will be easier. The worst thing for an agent is to get used to a brisk market where they are making a very good income and suddenly finding that they are back to selling a starter home every month or two when the market settles down. If an agent is not doing any marketing during the good times, they won't be building any reputation for the slow times. If they are not planning on being an agent for the long term, it doesn't matter. If they are, it's very important.

  13. I've been doing the Zillow Walkthrough Videos for about a year. At this point, they are included in every listing I shoot. The is for rentals, as Zillow doesn't currently allow videos for those (there is a way around that though). About four months ago I got a lens attachment for the iPhone from It works incredibly well and makes for a better video. Most of my agents love it and like that their listings get a boost.

  14. Zillow is attempting to take over the RE industry. This, imo, is their attempt to control/own the RE photography/videography market/industry.

  15. I just started the program a couple of weeks ago, and my inside rep Lauren is happy with what I'm doing. I make one small add on - the last vid-clip is a walking away "please don't go" shot.
    I'm using an iPhone SE, a Moment gen 1 wide angle, and a Feiyu SPG Live stabilizer with a compact second handle via a Custom Brackets CB mini RC flash bracket.
    I've used the iPhone/stabilizer a lot for my kids sports, so it's not a new thing for me. I'm talking to my Zillow rep about getting a closed FB page, and improving the app, including allowing manual exposure and letting the camera flip to help balance the lens, and maybe even a better app altogether for the Certified program.

  16. Robert Boerner

    What is the difference if an agent is a premiere agent with Zillow? Do they still have to use the app? If so, that means even a premiere agent can only upload a video created using a cell phone, correct?

  17. Hmm, I think this topic could use more conversation.

    Evidently, if an agent is a Premiere Agent, they can upload any video created by any equipment and get the special rankings.

  18. Just to clarify as stated above:
    Premier Agent Direct subscribers have the option of uploading a professionally shot video of their listing. To upload your video, contact Agent Care at

    If you do not have Premier Agent Direct, the only way to add a video walkthrough to your listing is through the Zillow Real Estate App or Premier Agent App; however, you can still provide a link to your professionally produced video on your listing via your MLS feed, broker feed or manual upload.

    In my area being a premier agent can cost about $3k monthly !

  19. @Wannabeyou

    I am not a Premier Agent Direct member and just have the freebie agent account. With my real estate login to Zillow and the Zillow Premier Agent App, I can create the video on my cell phone and upload it to the Zillow system. I can also record a video for another agent on my phone and when the agent activates the listing, they have the option to approve the video I created and have it appear on the Zillow site. Only the listing agent can approve the video for public viewing.

    To upload a video created by something other than the smartphone app requires additional fees to Zillow.

    Just FYI, the "Premier" in the Zillow description of the agent's account status does not mean they are paying for the service. I think all agents start at the "Premier" level and can pay to upgrade from there.

    Hope that helps!
    Robert Boerner

  20. I've been reading with interest the comments on this topic and have some strong feelings on this issue.

    I was contacted by Zillo to be one of their certified photographers and was asked to use the application for realtors they targeted to try it. I explained that I am primarily a still photographer, but I agreed. After using the app a couple of times, I contacted the Zillo representative and informed them that their approach is a significant step backwards to properly and professionally market real estate and that I didn't want to be associated with it. Professional Photographers have spent considerable time (quite literally years) and effort to educate realtors and NAR on the value of professionally photographed listings. For Zillo to insist on this app to elevate listings is a gorilla approach that I particularly find offensive and not in our (professional photographers and realtors') best interest.

    I personally believe that we should organize and challenge Zillo's position. We should not be buying into what they are doing at all and should BOYCOTT it. If we boycott the app and discourage realtors from using it, then it's a win win for professional photographers and realtors. These videos are awful. When my clients have asked about it -my response is that just like bad pictures, potential buyers are turned off and will just go to the next listing looking for good pictures. Time and time again, my clients have told me that their buyers all tell them that it's the pictures that brought them to the property.

    I bet we could even approach to respond as well, particularly since they've been hit by zillo's and trulia's success.

    Food for thought.

  21. There were multiple people on one of the Facebook groups saying that once you do 25 walk through tours with the app you can't request to be given the ability to upload pro-grade, edited videos on behalf of your agents.

    There was something about a requirement to upload a minimum of 10 videos per month to retain this ability. Since it was confirmed by more than one person, it may be something to look into. I would give more info myself but I just filled out the Zillow Certified Photographer signup form Thursday and nobody has called me yet.

  22. @Kerry Bern, I like your advice on only posting the shortest video required. The listing gets the ranking bump and buyers don't have to slog through a longer video getting seasick.

  23. @Brian Kurtz, Is that 10 videos a month from one agent? The agents I work with don't get near that many listings. If they did, they'd have to have a good sized team to service their clients and a couple gross of other agents would have to drop out of the RE business.

  24. To maintain your Select status you're required to shoot 10 a month. That gives you the ability to post your own high-end videos on Zillow at no charge to you or your agent. I posted these comments on a more recent thread, but am copying them here in case they are helpful to someone:
    I’ve been a select “Zideographer” for about 6 months. I find it’s a useful tool with some clear benefits and real limitations. First of all, I educate my agents about how it works, how it drives SEO, and the limitations in quality. I shoot it as an add-on, using my 6s, with a Moment lens, and a Zhiyun gimbal (with a few washers for balance). I charge one fee as an add-on, and double it if I have to come back to shoot it. I’ve found it really useful as a tool when the real selling point of the home is the exterior and property … I spend about 50-75% of the time outside and do a cursory walk-through to comply with Zillow’s rules. With a high-end home, I usually recommend against it because the quality of the stills far exceeds that of the video and may backfire. With homes that have a difficult flow, or that the agent thinks might take a while to move, I highly recommend it. I shoot it and then give the agent the choice to publish immediately or hold private. By holding it private, the agent has an additional tool in their marketing arsenal that they can pull out in a few weeks, perhaps coupled with a price drop, that will bump their listing to the top of the search engine as if it were new. As for Zillow not caring about photographers, my impression is that they are invested in getting the best images for their site. They’ve recently added a professional directory for photographers, hopefully guiding realtors and FSBO sellers to find us! FYI – you can get a 25% discount on Moment gear by using the code zillow+moment2017

  25. If you don't wan't to go all in on the DJI Mobile, the Zhiyun Crane Smooth Q is a good alternative for around $140. It sets up easily and does a great job stabilizing the video. It's only for smartphones, but I own one and can vouch that it does the job quite well. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the Zhiyun company and purchased the product myself via Amazon.

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