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Using Data to Promote the Value of Video & Aerial/Drone Photography in a Listing

Published: 01/11/2019

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Lonnie from Detroit, MI writes:

“I want to share some data with my clients on the value that video and aerial work can deliver for their listings. I already use the sources that I’ve gotten from PFRE on the impact that real estate photography can have for an agent. I’m wondering if there’s similar info on the impact of using aerial photography and video in the listing as well. Can you help?”

Thanks for the question, Lonnie. In my research into answering your question, I've found some interesting information for you that I think might be helpful to augmenting those specific services. It’s an article from a group called The article just came out this past May and it cites quite a few data points. Here are the two nuggets from the article that I think would be most helpful to supporting the value of video/aerial work:

  • House listings that have aerial photographs sell 68% faster than properties with standard images.
  • 70% of homeowners prefer to list with a real estate agent who uses video marketing to advertise their home.

That said, there was another bit of info that caught my attention in that article; and while it may not be directly related to the video/aerial aspects you're looking for, I think it might be valuable to you as well, and it was this: “The typical homebuyer searches for 10 weeks and looks at 10 properties before choosing a house.” This stat intrigued me because I know that if I were in the process of buying a house and I had to spend TEN weeks looking at listing photos/videos that all looked the same (i.e., shot corner-to-corner, with flat lighting like we see so often in our field), I think I’d go nuts! So, Lonnie, while I commend you on your desire to find data that supports the services you offer beyond still photography, I'd respectfully suggest that, on top of the latest statistics and providing stellar customer service, there are more impactful ways to impress your clients. In particular, making a commitment to:

  1. Finding Great Compositions. With so many shooters in our field (perhaps, even a majority) getting a similar looking photo because they're shooting ultra-wide and predominantly corner-to-corner, I truly believe that devoting more attention to thoughtful compositions, including zooming in a bit more, is going to make your work stand out.
  2. Finding Your Own Style. Don’t be afraid to find your own look and feel in your work, Lonnie; whether it be with your still photography or with your video/drone work. There are LOTS of folks in our community who distinguish themselves by bringing their own preferred style into play. For example, colleagues like 3-time PFRE Photographer of the Month winner, Garey Gomez, and 2018 PFRE Photographer of the Year, Mike Lefebvre, both bring “moodiness” into their work by leveraging naturally occurring shadows. In terms of video, PFRE's Videographer of the Month in April 2019, Ollie Paterson, is putting out some really great, tight videos that distinguish themselves because, not only are they briefer than most videos out there, he spends just as much time showcasing the lifestyle associated with the house, as the actual rooms within the house.

So yes, use data points to augment your marketing but also remember to find your own style and then, market the heck out of that!

Anyway, what advice do you have for Lonnie regarding his desire to market his video and aerial work.

Tony Colangelo is a residential and commercial photographer, as well as a photography coach, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is a long-time contributor to PFRE and is the creator of The Art & Science of Great Composition tutorial series.

Tony Colangelo

6 comments on “Using Data to Promote the Value of Video & Aerial/Drone Photography in a Listing”

  1. While I don't discount the value of aerial since it does a good job of putting a home in the context of it surroundings, I don't necessarily agree that video adds as much value. If you look at the Zillow figures on what buyers are looking for when shopping for a home video does not score well and that makes total sense to me... 1) In this instantaneous society of ours, although some are very well done, who wants to sit through a video to find out what they want to know about a home? Flipping through photos, which can be done very quickly gives you most of what you need to know and the best bang for your marketing buck. 2) I think the agent demand for video was initially fueled by Zillow since a few years ago they were looking for unique content that would separate them from other real estate portals and they enticed agents to want it by telling them the Zillow search return results would look more favorably on listings that had one of their videos.

    Fast forward to now and their own data would indicate buyers do not view videos as important as photos and floor plans and that makes total sense to me since I too shop for homes. If I'm in leisure mode looking to be entertained, I can spend hours on YouTube looking through videos but not when I'm in home search mode... I'm not looking to be entertained, I'm looking for a home and want to see what I want to see and don't want to sit and sift through a video to see it.

    Having said all this, if agents want video and are willing to spend money on it, then who are we to tell them no. After all, it's not the buyers who pay for your services, it's the agent 🙂

    As far as marketing your video service, IMO you want to market quality not quantity. Most of the agent shot Zillow videos are awful and in my opinion do more harm to showing a property then good... If you want a video, spend the money and have it professional shot and edited. That's how good video is done and a lot of the magic is in the editing... I'll focus on the marketable features of your home to put them in the best light and keep the video short and moving so it keeps people's interest so you get the best bang for your marketing dollar.

    Sorry but I also have to add a shameless plug here... If you're attending the PFRE conference later this month in Las Vegas we @ will be there as a sponsor. Please stop by and talk with us if you are considering adding floor plans to your services offerings.

  2. Hi Tony, we should all be a bit skeptical.

    Data is only as good as quality of the survey, the aptness of questions, how long ago the survey was performed and efforts to neutralize bias.

    In the case of this survey, would they rather use a realtor who has video/drone photography as part of their marketing, of course they will likely say yes. We naturally prefer to hire people who offer more extras than those who don't. It doesn't rank how high this is in their priorities, or whether they would use the service. For example, I would answer "yes" to a question "Do you prefer realtors who offer iced San Pellegrino". But, it would have an inconsequential effect on my choice of agent. Worse case scenario, ine could end up spending 10-20% more on expenses (+time) for property listings on a factor that has a much smaller gain on revenue.

    The quote, "House listings that have aerial photographs sell 68% faster than properties with standard images". The statistic is problematic, because houses with aerial photographs and houses without aerial photographs are not equivalent. Just by educated guessing, I would reckon that houses with aerial photographs tend to have nicer land, greater views, higher price points, and less "challenging" neighborhoods than houses that don't. For this study to be valid, you need to take a group of houses and randomly assign half of them to get aerial shots and half to not get aerials. Then compare the sales figures of both groups.

    Sadly, when you check out an awful lot of "statistics" they turn out to poorly conceived and interpreted. Not the kind of data you want to make decisions about.

  3. @Andrew Held ... Hi Andrew, you are absolutely correct that all statistics need to be examined from the perspective of validity/reliability. Indeed, without knowing how rigorous the methodology was in the research, one should always be wary of reading too much into the data. After all, the first rule of research is that the data is obsolete, the moment the survey is complete.

    Personally, when writing an article for the PFRE community, I try to present information in as balanced a way as I can (and sometimes, I probably don't end up doing as good a job as I'd like!) I also try *not* to write anything using "definitive" language and tone. In this particular article, I thought that the data points that were cited might be of interest to folks, if for no other reason than to get a sense of a current/potential trend in our field. It goes without saying that, as business owners, we must make informed decisions about going into a new direction with our service offering, such as video/drone work. I want to believe that no one in our community is going to make that decision, including the associated financial/time investments, based solely on one article. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again for your astute observation!

  4. The statistics and data that show that homes sell faster or for more money with pro-grade photos, video, aerial photography...or any of the rest are all pretty much bunk. They would NEVER survive the peer review process to get into an actual scientific journal...but we quote sources as if they had.

    Think about this one thing....

    We have all seen it. Agents so very often pick and choose which listings get the red carpet treatment and which do not.

    Homes which they think are a dog and which are going to be hard to sell get the cell phone treatment. Heck MOST of their homes get the cell phone treatment.

    But then...they get the “special” house.

    The one that they want to pull out all the nines on. So they call us up, complain about our price, and then agree to use us anyway. Because it‘a a SPECIAL house dang it!

    My point is that when agents tend to more frequently order photography, video, aerial, or Matterport-style tours on the perfect homes that need nearly zero work and are gong to sell fast anyway....

    ...when they do can’t trust any of the data!

    Is it that homes with pro-grade photography sell faster and more it that homes that are going to sell faster and for more money ANYWAY...they tend to get the pro-grade photography/video/aerial/whatever?

    This problem is so prevalent in the sciences that they have to take all kinds of precautions and put all kinds of checks in place to account for and cancel out this it-could-work-both-ways, back-and-forth effect. I have never seen any “study” take the time to outline similar methods they used to control for this problem when publishing their “findings” on the internet with no peer review.

    Anyway...I believe that all this data is complete junk and should never be used to sell anything since you can’t know for sure if you are representing a true advantage to the customer when you bring it up.

    Stick to the fact that using the services will help them secure MORE listings that they otherwise would never have gotten. Tons and tons of agents will attest to this themselves. So you don’t need a study. The actual customers will tell you to your face. Especially with video. Other services too...but an agent who offers video when their competition doesn’t has a silver bullet loaded in their gun at that listing appointment.

  5. @Brian Kurtz

    "but an agent who offers video when their competition doesn’t has a silver bullet loaded in their gun at that listing appointment."

    Yes, but. If a market area's agents aren't using professional photos in any great numbers, adding video might be gilding the lily. If the listings in that area have both professional photos AND video, having floor plans or 3D scan products might be needed. There is an agent in my town that I keep telling he is out marketing himself. He is getting a large number of listings and every one has too many HDR photos, a dozen drone photos (of tract homes) and the last time I talked to him he asked about Matterport and video. Every other agent in town, with very few exceptions on rare occasions, uses their cell phone or a point and shoot with the orange date code turned on. The date and time are even correct with a couple of them.

    I have to agree that it's easy to see how the top sellers in an area are using professional photography. The one leading the sales board in my area by furlongs brings in a photographer for every single listing. No exceptions, no temp cell phone photos. I finally had a quick chat with him a week or so ago and his reason for hiring a pro is bolstering his brand to get more listings and time. It's very little to do with selling the home, though he's certain it helps draw people in. His listings get lots of looks on Z,T&R. Maybe one of these days I'll get more time to chat with him and perhaps even earn some of his business. If HE were to tell me that he's going to start looking into video, that would be the best cue to start buying gear and learning the process in earnest.

  6. Nowadays people search everything online ,its era of online sale and purchase, so providing complete detail about property and its surrounding is always going to be plus point.With the help of drone photography or filming it provide complete virtual environment so decision making can be easy and buyers interested in property easily buy properties on their desktop. Form my point of view and also some studies, Drone Photography and filming in real state is providing boom.

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