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Should You Offer Real Estate Videography.

Published: 06/03/2018

Bill in Nevada asks:

More and more clients are asking me to provide video. The learning curve is steep, the gear is expensive, and worst of all, the clients don't have much of a budget for it. I don't want to give them a reason to call someone else but I'm nervous about making the investment in time and money. Thoughts?

My relationship with real estate video has been love-hate. All the agents want it, but no one is willing to pay a fair rate. As you've mentioned, the gear is expensive and the learning curve is steep. If you want to be great at real estate video, you need to commit. On the other hand, if you just want to provide a product that is good enough to keep your clients satisfied, there are options for that too.

If you're looking for a cost-effective, portable option, check out the Rhino ROV, combined with a wide angle lens from Moment. You can be up and running for less than $500 (not including the cost of your phone) and the quality is pretty amazing.

If you want to get more serious and become known for your videos, consider getting into some more advanced gear like hand-held gimbles and multi-axis motion control systems. Here are a few options to get you started:


Motion Control:

All the fancy gear in the world won't make you great at shooting real estate video. You need to understand the basics and put in the time. Here are a few resources to get you started:

Lighting for Real Estate Photography - Scott Hargis
How to Shoot Real Estate Video - Grant Johnston
How to Shoot Cinematic Real Estate Videos - Premiumbeat blog

At the end of the day, you know what's best for your business. Just make sure you don't end up in a situation where the quality of your videos, or lack thereof, is damaging the credibility of your photos.

Brandon Cooper

9 comments on “Should You Offer Real Estate Videography.”

  1. Cut to the chase...."the clients don’t have much of a budget for it" Why spin your wheels when you already know that your return is going to be meager at best? What? In the hopes that someday agents are going to see the "Light" and pay what is a decent return for the investment you made?

    Over the years I have seen over 20 video businesses start up with big plans and then disappear 6 months to a year later. One I knew and although they were very busy, they just could not make enough off each project to make a living. When they raised their prices to what it would take to make dried up, clients just did not want to spend that much.

    Assuming your still work is good, why not fill your day with still shoots and sub out the video. At the very least take Larry's suggestion and fork out $500 for a entry level start. If that proves to be profitable, you can add more later.

  2. I'm a film school grad, & worked in commercial film production in NYC for 28 years. I've been shooting RE (stills) in upstate NY for about a year now. I've been keeping an eye out to applying my filmmaking skills to the RE world but it is slow going. I'm finding that yes, Realtors just don't have the budget for it. The majority don't feel it's worthwhile. One local Realtor commented that "they watch for about 15 seconds then click to the pictures..." In my region the first challenge is to get more Realtors into appreciating the importance of good photography.

    Also, there's a lot more to video production than the shooting equipment. Yes, the learning curve is steep & post production is equally important. The language of cinema is largely in the editing. Start playing around with editing software. Adobe Premiere Pro is probably the obvious choice for most of us. Plus, you may need a more powerful computer, especially with 4K.

    I've been thinking of putting together cheaper, "Ken Burns" style videos (go ahead search it now) to hit maybe a $400-$500 price point. I try to remember to grab some video shots with my DSLR & drone when at a shoot, but never really have the time for it. Right now I'm in the "developing a template" phase. I figure someone eventually will ask for video...

  3. This is such a personal decision and depends very much on your own skills, your work load, your market, your clients and whether you even feel you want to do video. For my own case, I live in a very small market with not a lot of high end properties coming on the market. My clients current complaint is a lack of inventory. So to earn more money from a low amount of property shoots, it makes sense to make my piece of the pie larger and using a drone and video (land based and air based) makes sense plus I am enjoying the process of learning how to do it both visually and technically.

    With a good sUAV and even a GoPro with gimbal stabilizer, you can start up. Or if you have a DSLR that shoots good quality video you can too without a huge investment in equipment. If you add a slider you just have to make sure your tripod won't dip when the camera and tripod head gets to the end. And I would advise taking Grant's video course advertised top right here. Just $75 and worth every single penny. You need help to make that transition from stills to video.

    If you shoot stills, then you can add on video, especially if you do fairly uncomplicated video say with the GoPro, for not a lot of money since you are already there shooting stills. So you can offer a bundled price. But if your client wants twilight stills and video then the price has to rise considerably since with twilight you only have 15 - 20 minutes light and to try to shoot stills on the ground, video on the ground plus stills and video from the sUAV you will probably need two shooting sessions. I am in the middle of that one right now. And if you are shooting with a sUAV you had better have your 107 Remote Pilot's License and know your twilight shooting times and strobe requirements.

    But RE video is something a still photographer can add for not a lot of investment in money, but it is a lot of investment in time both learning how to do it, mastering the camera techniques and then the joy of spending more time at your computer editing. Speaking of which, while once you make the commitment, you do need to get either Apple's Final Cut ProX or Adobe Premiere, you can start the ball rolling with iMovie. RE video does not have to have all the bells and whistles to be effective. I always feel especially to start, keep it all simple. Then add in the bells and whistles.

    Today, there is a video trend to be visually trendy with fast and short cuts, no dissolves unless it involves a light struck film effect from the days of 8mm amateur filming, move in with speeded up sections and so on. I don't go that route since I personally don't think the photographer and his/her clever devices should intrude onto the video since I find that distracting, nevertheless this style is gaining in popularity amoungst RE videographers. And their clients. My clients are more laid back and don't want to be blasted but soothed. But we have to take our cues from what our clients want, not what we want. I am just lucky that what I like my clients like as well.

    So my reaction is the "should" should be taken out of the question. Instead every photographer needs to make a calculated decision based on who they are, what they feel comfortable doing, what their own budget is and who their clients are and what their market. It is uncontroversial that video is the wave of the future. Realtors will discover if they have not already that many owners want to see a video included in the marketing package presentation and many will go to the realtor who offers it. Plus with the number of buyers who do property searches before contacting a real estate agency, this becomes more and more a requirement rather than an option depending on the value of the property being sold. Not all commissions will justify any additional photo costs. So better to be prepared ahead of the curve than playing catch up once other photographers are already in the market with a reputation established.

  4. I'm about to make the jump and yes, it is pricey. To be honest, I'm not sure if it's a smart move or not but only time will tell. I work with notoriously cheap agents at the moment but I have a lot of high end real-estate around me within a 30 minute drive. I'm hoping that I can start marketing myself as a one-stop-shop and break into new markets. The total investment for me is looking like it's going be between $1,500-2,000 all said and done. Plus, the additional $20/mo for Premier.

  5. Want an easy way to find out about ‘demand’? Zillow is promoting the two-minute walk-through video. I’ve shot plenty of them – for free (included it with the photography). I was honest and told agents, it’s not very good. Without a proper camera and editing, it can’t be. Not one ever asked for a ‘proper’ video, and when I began charging a nominal fee for the walk-through, it wasn’t needed either. Try offering the two-minute walk-through video for a small fee ($40 - $50?). See what you’re response is. You only need a smartphone and it can be done in ten to twenty minutes.

    For me? I’ll take the low hanging fruit. I know there are successful videographers working in the RE market, but the reality is, few agents will pay for it without a LOT of education. You need to ask yourself how much you’re willing to invest in developing that niche in your market area. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand RE agent thinking. Not related, but I had a conversation with an agent yesterday that has a $1.2 million dollar listing, on the market for a year, and shot it himself. I just don’t get it.

  6. Hi Bill,

    I highly recommend doing videos. Video is the Here and Now! The learning curve is steep, but nothing you can not learn. You will need to watch and study real estate videos (preferably good ones) and get the proper gear.
    I am not sure what camera are you photographing with but you might be able to film with that. (Sony A6300, A6500, Nikon D750, Canon 5D Mark III or IV.) We use GH5 with superb results.
    What you will definitely need to invest in is a good enough gimbal (Moza Air, Zhiyun Crane 2 or maybe a Ronin-M (this one can be heavy) ). Beside of this you will need a sturdy tripod and a decent slider.
    Getting a drone would add to the wow factor of the video but drones are costly since they crash time to time.
    With these and a lot of patience and a desire to lear you can start making real estate videos.
    Editing is the other hard part but in that I might be able to help. I just hired 2 great new editors who has capacity at the moment until our new marketing strategy kicks in and we start filming 2 videos a day. Then we will just hire more...there are many talented people around looking for work.

  7. I'm sure it varies by market but I have been doing video for over 13 years now on a regular (daily) basis. I absolutely do believe THIS is the year for video (although people have been saying that for years), due to Facebook's embracing of video as well as Zillow embracing video. Drones have definitely added to the mix as well bringing video forward in a way I've never seen before. Just from the sheer amount of new competition (I had none - literally - for about 6 years)... it's definitely trending upwards. I have nearly 10,000 subscribers to my YouTube channel who receive an email every time I upload a video. Somebody is watching this stuff!

    But I can tell you it's NOT for luxury properties only. I shoot 3-5 or more videos every single day of the week, year after year... for 2 bedroom condos that aren't even furnished to $30M estates. I just did a one bedroom condo last week! Look at my YouTube channel... there are some beautiful properties there, but there are also some real dogs as well as a whole lot of average, run of the mill homes.

    I have several clients I shoot 2-3 homes a week for... many of them low end, bread and butter homes... and have been doing that for those people for over a decade. It's their brand. It gets them new listings. It gets them noticed. And I've watched several grow from a single person operation heavily in debt to a large team of nearly a dozen people now doing a crazy amount of business and becoming tops in their area. Every one will absolutely tell you that video was one of the major factors in their success.

    Our market here is on fire and has been for awhile, yet I'm busier than ever and shoot about 30 videos every week during our busy season (March - July). Video is not just about selling properties... it's about getting more listings.

    It's a different beast than still photos, and it may not be for everyone - no question. But it's a viable and requested add on to your existing business if you choose to embrace it.

  8. I think buying mid-level video equipment gear (a good slider, video head, gimbal) is worth the investment in the long run. Promote video on your website, mention it to clients when the opportunity arises, price the service appropriately, and take advantage of the requests. It's a value added service, not something your business should revolve around.

    Video is\ not for every listing, but when a client gets a nice property they want to feature, they often recognize it's important to go all out on the marketing, to attract similar high-end listings down the road. If they don't recognize this, then mention it to them.

  9. If you focus on what's more than good enough to satisfy your customers, you'll forget about the slider and the fluid head and just invest in a gimbal and some practice time. You'll have less to lug around, and you'll save on equipment and setup time.

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