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What Can You Charge For Real Estate Video?

Published: 05/12/2011
By: larry

Last week Kevin Barnes in Louisville, KY told me that he'd been laid off from his job of 15 years as a broadcast videographer and wanted some advice about pricing and packaging real estate video.

Here's What I Told Kevin About Pricing
Pricing must be based on your cost of doing business first, your local market second and the quality of your work third. That, said there are some particular issues with selling video to agents.
  1. Video still needs some selling in most markets. Agents need to be convinced that video will do a better job than what they've been doing... I think this is possible.
  2. You probably need to focus on the top 5% of agents. The marketing job is probably easier to top agents that are already spending more on marketing.
  3. Most  agents I know that are using video are also doing stills. Agents are not likely to pay for a separate photographers, one for stills and one for video... best to so both at the same trip and it makes sense to give a price break over two trips because you are doing both while you are at the property.
  4. There are some markets this will be video will be a harder sell than others. The big metro areas where the population is younger and more tech oriented will be an easier sell than more rural less tech oriented areas.
  5. Checkout Fred Light's pricing page. Fred has been doing real estate video for a long time, he does a great job of marketing video, he has  a distinct style (narrated walk through video) and works in a high tech high population metro area (Boston).
  6. Video is much more difficult (time consuming) to create and edit than sills so this means you'd better be charging around $250 to $300 USD for you cheapest package or you are likely to not be recovering your time costs.
  7. As I've talked about recently, I think you'll have a marketing advantage if you can provide a tour that presents both sills and video.
I think there are a bunch of obvious packages all with different pricing. #1 is the lowest priced:
  1. Walk through or cinematic style video with music background.
  2. Walk through or cinematic style with professional narration. You don't have to do the narration. Here are a couple of good professional narrators: Bob Taylor  and Jill Tarnoff. Just send them your script and they will record a narration track.
  3. Agent profile. Be careful, these can be time consuming because many agents need a lot of help with script and direction.
  4. Neighborhood profile.
What are your experiences with video pricing and packaging?

12 comments on “What Can You Charge For Real Estate Video?”

  1. Video can be extremely time consuming in both shooting, editing and uploading. The single most important consideration is your TIME involved. If you're going to be hauling around and setting up jibs, cranes, tripods, lighting equipment, audio equipment, etc., your time spent in the home will be considerable. Hours. And Hours. Plus your travel time. Then add your transcoding time, your editing time. Add your uploading time. Add the time for creating a web page for your video.

    You need to establish your price FIRST. Determine what your particular market will bear cost-wise, then create a product that will fit into that price point, and STILL make you money. Don't create a product and THEN determine a fair price for it, because most often you will be either over charging and you'll have nearly no business.... or you'll be undercharging and you'd be better off flipping burgers....

    I keep my prices reasonable and affordable (for the top agents) because I cut corners on the video, and make no apologies for it. For regular clients (not in the real estate biz), I usually offer a preview, and usually one or two rounds of edits. VERY time consuming in every way. I also charge $500-$1000 to start for most of those projects, way out of the price range for most Realtors.

    Most of my real estate videos follow the same basic template. Look at my YouTube channel - there are almost 1,600 videos that all follow the same format. I just tell a customer... plug YOUR house into that formula, and that's essentially what your video will look like. Simple as that. They know exactly what they're getting. I do NO previews, offer NO edits. I also turn the video around next day (or in 48 hours when I'm super busy).

    If I make a mistake, I obviously will correct it. If the client makes a mistake or wants something changed, it's $100. (amazing how people want changes until they find out it will cost money - then those changes are not so important!). I shoot exteriors on a tripod at the same time I'm shooting stills. I shoot the interior on a Steadicam, which on an average sized house takes roughly 20 minutes. I'm "hauling and setting up" one camera, one tripod and a tiny Steadicam. Easy in, easy out.

    My time spent shooting is minimal. My time spent editing is minimal because I "shoot to edit". Everything is shot in the same order, so editing takes less than 30 minutes. I have four super fast computers here on my desk that crunch through this stuff pretty quickly and on busy days I transfer and transcode video on a laptop in my car as I'm driving to my appointments so everything is ready to go when I get back to edit. I have a super fast (15 Mbps upload) fiber internet connection, so it takes me 2-3 minutes to upload a full, 1080p, HD video to a website (I upload each video to about 6 different websites).

    It's super imperative that you create the PRODUCT for the predetermined PRICE, not vice-versa. Real estate is a price sensitive industry as we all know, so it's very easy to price yourself right out of business.

    The vast majority of my clients do stills AND video, and the average cost to the agent for that package on a typical, average house or condo is just about $500, or $100 less if the video is not narrated. When things are slow, I do 2-3 homes a day, when things are busy I do at least 5-6 a day and oftentimes even more. A few months ago I shot 32 houses on Martha's Vineyard in 3 days! (some very well orchestrated shoots started at dawn, working until dark).

    Obviously some proejcts, like are charged considerably more and take considerably more time!

  2. Fred: thank you for sharing all that invaluable information about your business: I hear what you say about clients wanting to make changes! With stills I find I can move distracting items out of the shot and shoot one view across the room but for a walkthrough/ panning video you are really showing the entire property : fine for newbuilds/ showhomes but not great for homes with a lot of clutter! I have steered clear of offering 360 panoramas for this reason. When you show more of the house with a video you are opening up more variables/ ie opportunities for client complaints about "the children's toy under the sofa in the far left of the picture": with stills at least I have photoshop for cloning out unwanted reflections, debris I missed at the time. I think you are so right to establish a very standardised package for RE work otherwise projects can become ambitious and non-profitable productions. Clients have to realise that RE video work is not like a magazine shoot and I think need to cut us some slack when viewing the results: it needs to be sharp, clear and well-edited but I don't think at the price it can be held up to the same level of scrutiny that stills shots receive from most clients. If one is going to operate atall profitably at this level, then the ground rules need to be very clearly laid out. Thanks again for being so generous with your insights into this important area!

  3. I have found pricing for video to be very difficult but of course depends on the type of videos you produce. If you create a consistent product that comes from a tightly organized system then you can easily calculate your cost and have a chance to make the fastest profit. Most of my videos have scripts and brokers speaking on camera and I encourage creativity so the time, cost and quality can vary tremendously. I have only done between 50 to 60 of these videos and have tracked the amount of time required to shoot and edit under different circumstances. I still have a way to go on my pricing formulas but I can come pretty close on a fair 1/2 day rate and a full day rate if the broker agrees to to stay within a strict set of parameters like script length, # of times on camera, no second sites included.
    On a different note, the most price sensitive brokers are the ones who have not done a video and don't trust it yet. Once they have seen the positive response both through showings and additional listings that good videos can bring then price is less of an issue.

  4. Great topic & great advise from everyone. I have been a Realtor for 11 years and a Real Estate Photographer for 10 of those. I had also dabbled in Video initially and dropped it when standard photography started paying the bills. I had shot and edited several 20 minute Sports Vacation Features that took over 40 hours to produce. Fred's advice is key - you need to estimate your costs and level of detail/quality that you can offer at what the market will bear. Good luck with the video everyone!

  5. Fred:
    Thanks for all that great advice. From shooting video in the past I can definitely understand the importance in being realistic about the quality/price. Often times as a videographer you want to make masterpieces, but it's important to develop a formula that is profitable.

    I'm just getting into the business. I was wondering if anyone had tips on ways to find work? I assume most of the work begins by Networking with Realtors. But I'm looking for some ideas with that.


  6. We offer three types of packages, depending on the quality and clients budget:

    1. Premium
    Includes cinema camera, high quality glass, arri lights, leds, stabilizer, slider and tripod

    2. Deluxe
    Cinema camera, high quality glass, no complementary lights, slider

    3. Basic
    Dslr camera, good glass, slider and tripod

  7. Hey! Great job. I haven't really gone back to my roots of photography and video for over a decade, but after getting into real estate early this year, thank you. It's so nice to see other's perspectives. We all need to realize it takes all the pieces to build this huge mega million reality we live in: from photography to videography, staghers, cleaners, title companies, mortgage brokers, etc. They all get paid in the end. People just seem to think the real estate agent makes bank; lol. I heart you all! I need to dig out my camera

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