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Every time the topic of real estate video comes up, the community seems to be very divided on its purpose. On the one hand, there are some that think video should be completely documentary in style, showcasing only the most necessary imagery and information. Others believe that a good real estate video should evoke an emotional response in the viewer.
Personally, I think circumstance dictates which of these two approaches should be taken and the ultimate goal of the video is what usually dictates the circumstance. For example, someone living in California who wants to sell/market luxury homes might choose the cinematic approach as a way of attracting high-end clients by trying to sell a lifestyle, while someone else in a more modest/high volume market may focus on documentary-style videos that cut right to the chase and communicate the information quickly without any additional production value.
Regardless of your stance on this topic, I think we can all agree that video is an incredibly important marketing tool today and will most likely become more popular as time goes on. According to Biteable.com: "Humans find videos more engaging, more memorable, and more popular than any other type of content out there. Video, as a means of storytelling and advertising is no longer a nice option–it’s a necessity. If you want to increase conversion and exposure, a video marketing strategy is the only way to go." Here are some interesting stats on video trends that I think will surprise you.
I reached out to some prominent videographers in the PFRE Community to get their perspectives on the purpose of real estate video. Specifically, I wanted to get their thoughts on whether real estate video is meant to: (a) simply describe a space; (b) sell a lifestyle; (c) promote the agent; or (d) all of the above. This is what they had to say:
Josh Mais - Sherpa Media
I believe our purpose as photographers and videographers is to serve our clients by promoting their brand (making them look really good) and maximizing their listing's potential online (making their listing look really good). So, I think the answer is (D) all the above. And the ratio of A,B, and C depends on the space being shot.
Ollie Paterson - Ollie Paterson.com
The purpose of real estate videos for me is a two-part thing. One is to market/sell the listing. Secondly but most importantly, is that it has to be both a good reflection of the realtor's brand and an effective piece of their marketing strategy.
First, in terms of selling the property, I feel as though it is better to showcase the listing in an emotional way as opposed to a descriptive way. An emotional video piece has far more impact on potential buyers than a descriptive video. An emotional video can show the highlights of the property in a compelling way and/or can showcase the lifestyle the property can afford potential buyers. I think that property videos have the luxury of being able to do this as they are part of an overall marketing strategy; or at least should be. My goal with the video is to get people excited about the home and build buzz around the sale. The photos, write up, and eventually a showing can do the heavy lifting in terms of letting buyers know the key stats about the property. I just don't think that videos need to show every nook and cranny. To be honest, online viewers only have so much attention so I feel like it is part of my job to show them the best attributes of the house very quickly.
The second part of the purpose--and possibly the most important--is to help with the agent's own brand and marketing. Great video is a reflection of the Realtor's brand. It helps elevate them from the pack. Obviously, this is not the only factor in an agent's marketing/brand but as we all know, great pics and video can help. A really good video can also help agents gain new leads and convert new clients whether at their listing appointments or online.
In terms of results, I have had multiple agents get offers over the phone from buyers who have only seen the property in the video which is pretty crazy! I have also had many agents comment on how the videos really help them secure new listings. Obviously, the results help justify the extra marketing spent on a video which in turn, gets the agent to do more video and helps me retain and gain new clients."
Joe Zekas - Yo Chicago
I stopped working with real estate agents several years ago and now work exclusively with apartment communities. That gives me far more flexibility in scheduling, much easier-to-shoot and edit videos, and clients who track results better and who commit to more lucrative year-long arrangements. The agents I did work with were top producers who represented sellers almost exclusively. These folks didn't need to promise video to get listings.
City of Chicago agents (or someone on their team) are typically present at all showings rather than relying solely on lockboxes. They view video as enhancing their productivity and resulting in showings to better-qualified buyers who rule out properties as well as those who want to see more. This is an aspect of video's value that seems to be overlooked.
My experience is that most genuine prospects don't/won't watch lifestyle videos. View counts back up that impression. When they do, it has to be about the location rather than the property. I don't do lifestyle videos and recommend other videographers to the few clients who want them.
My perspective is informed by talking face-to-face on the subject of real estate video with literally thousands of agents from coast to coast, and local buyers and renters. Also by paying careful attention to YouTube Analytics, and comments on posts at my website and on YouTube videos.
Narrated, documentary-style videos are the only type that are worth doing from the standpoint of producing results that agents understand and value in the long run. Selling them anything else, even if they want it, is doing them a disservice–and they'll almost always come to realize that and stop buying.
Simple walk-throughs have the advantage of being quick to shoot and edit, resulting in an affordable product at a high hourly rate. Heavily-captioned walk-through videos are a viable alternative to narration for photographers/agents who are uncomfortable talking in the video. Buyers want some basic info and they typically need to have what they see described verbally.
Videos must be posted at YouTube, with a title that includes the address and with a brief description and relevant keywords. It's the #2 search engine after Google, and a key part of the value proposition for video is that you're reaching a broader audience, and reaching it in a way that has real impact. You're also reaching sellers who might be moved to contact an agent as a result of seeing a video.
Nick Swartzendruber - Drone Cowboys
The purpose of real estate video in my eyes is to create an emotional attachment to a particular property that leads to the sale of that property. Other benefits, if done correctly, would be agent/broker branding/impressing homeowner.
Tacey Jungmann - Snowberry Lane
What's the purpose of real estate video? Is it about selling the house or selling the agent? That seems to be the major divide in people's opinions. I say it's both. When you're putting together a multi-media presentation for a listing, you're working to provide a complete and compelling view of the property. Video is unique in that it is the only media we use for real estate that engages multiple senses... obviously, sight and sound, but also a feeling of touch (as we pan along the velvet couch) and smell (as we linger for a few seconds near a fireplace). Every house has a "feel" to it. Video does the best job of conveying that feel. The more senses we can engage, the more likely we are to evoke an emotional reaction that compels the viewer to act.
Video is also about selling the agent. At its simplest, it's about the promise to the seller that s/he can provide all the available marketing tools. At its more complex, it's the ability to add personality and branding--especially when the agent is willing to go on-camera and truly "be" the brand.
Andre Mckenzie - Silverhouse HD
Video is considered to be one of the highest forms of marketing, therefore I believe the purpose of a real estate video is to:
Jordan Powers - Minnesota Home Tours
I believe video serves many purposes that can benefit all parties involved. My pitch to agents is that video will get more eyeballs on their listing, help build their brand, and potentially earn them the listing. When an agent can walk into a listing presentation and say "I will have a professional come through and create a video, as well as photography" that automatically makes them stand out amongst their competitors. Once that agent is posting a video for every single property that they list, potential clients will start to take notice. Also, posting video organically to Facebook versus linking to a video outside of Facebook (or even just a listing) will typically yield more traffic, as their goal is to keep people on their platform so that they can sell more ads.
For us photographers, video also serves as a great opportunity to make our brand stand out. Regardless of the type of videos that we make, whether walk-through, cinematic, or even (gulp) slideshows, every video that we put out is also an ad for our businesses, and the quality or style is a direct reflection of our brand.