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Video has its place in real estate marketing

I stood up at a real estate conference a couple of years ago and challenged the presenter when he expounded the view that the “Next Big Thing” in real estate marketing was videos for individual listings.

Time and technology advancement has not diminished this view, although as ever there are nuances as to the question  “Will video play an every greater role in real estate marketing”?

Here is my perspective on the matter. 

When it comes to property searching, the most critical stage is the early process of filtering. This is where buyers are building up a picture in their mind as to the type of property they want to buy and in doing so examining the various options, undertaking a filtering process. This process of 'include this / exclude this' is largely influenced by images. The brain can scan and process images at an incredible speed (apparently the brain processes images 60,000 time faster than text) and to prove my point here is a simple experiment I carried out.

I took a random listing from today’s property market - “Ripe for Renovation!!!” 65 Court Crescent, Panmure, Auckland a property being marketed by Ray White. (I used this listing simply as an example, not to make any judgment on listing agent or Ray White or the property).

The property has 12 photos, a brief description and a video – all on Realestate.co.nz

  • It took me 11 seconds to view all 12 images 
  • It took me 34 seconds to read the description
  • It took me 46 seconds to view the video

The pictures told me all I wanted to know about this property – how it is laid out, what condition it is in. The description, to be honest, told me a lot about the neighbourhood. However I was looking to buy in the area, I would surely have done my background research or be living locally anyway. The video, though, was literally a complete waste of 46 seconds - it was not to be fair, a video, rather it was a photo montage set to music with no voice over featuring just 8 of the 12 images.

The fact is that this type of video is the least valuable form of video content and certainly of no value on a property portal like Realestate.co.nz.

Home buyers using property portals such as Trade Me Property and Realestate.co.nz are constantly in the state of filtering. Wading through the aggregation of listings. It could be argued that all that is really needed on such sites are the the primary data of the property location, price, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and the size and of course the images. In some ways agent contact details and time of open homes as well as method of sale are secondary. The last thing that is needed to be honest is a video.

However I do believe there is a place for video but it is selective usage rather than universal. 

However before I expound on my view as to the best use of video as a passionate technologist I would be remiss if I did not highlight a massive leap forward in the presentation of property listing images in an automated fashion - imagine the video from the last listing on steroids. That is what Redfin has done in the US. In real time when you view a single listing on their site a computer programme creates a video with voice over curated with the primary content - try it out by clicking the Play Video link on this sample listing.

7007_Los_Tilos_Rd__Los_Angeles__City___CA_90068___MLS__14-762791___Redfin.png

The business model of Redfin is somewhat unique to the US model of an MLS system with buyers and sellers agents and this is why listings offer a rebate! - the key thing is text of the listing has been translated into computer generated voice over and on screen graphics - its smart, very smart! Try any listing on Redfin and you can see the computer programme work on any listing.

Anyway back top my hypothesis of how video can be used in real estate marketing.

Before examining the form of video I want to state that the hosting of a video for a property should be on the real estate listing company website, the agent website or a solus website - this is where interested parties should be encouraged to go once they have "added it to their favourites" from a property portal.

The value of a specialised video is its ability to create in the viewers mind an experience of being in this house. This is undertaken through a professional video shoot that is shot and edited to become a visual story with a clear sense of a beginning, middle and end. My interpretation of this structure would be an opening which creates a sense of context. Where the house is in context to the community and how it is seen from its ‘street appeal’ - the exterior presence. The middle is all about the body of the house, how it is laid out and how it creates a liveable environment, however that might relate to the type of property, recognising this will be different for an city apartment to a lifestyle property. The tail end of the video needs to be that classic ‘close’ in the sales sense of the word - reinforce the key benefits of the property and leave clear message of how to move to actually visit the property as this is the outcome that as an agent is wanted.

Having outlined this is as personal perspective of the ideal video I can tell you what I would not advocate in video production. 

  • Handheld iPhone videos with commentary by the agent are as bad as iPhone photos - best left to the office party video
  • Guided tours by agents who insist on telling you that this is a bedroom and this is a kitchen, its as bad a being guided through in actual house - we are intelligent enough to walk around
  • War and Peace length videos must be avoided, the best videos are short and succinct
  • Hollywood glamour should be avoided - this video has to be the worst, although based on YouTube views its well liked. It is a promo tool for the agent and it certainly created standout!

If you want a great example of a well produced property video have a look at this one:

 

It’s a style of video that I have not seen before and until I saw it I probably could not have anticipated how much I liked it or even described the style and how it would appeal and why. The key point of difference for this video which I was almost cringing at the beginning was the actors. Once you accept them for what they are and they don’t burst into signing agents or get silly, I think they add a vital component of context. Seeing how people live in a house in a non-intrusive manner became for me both compelling and engaging, that had me viewing the video all the way through.

 

So I do believe video has a place in the marketing mix of real estate. It is not in my a core part of every listing nor should it be by some default of technology regardless of how smart or fast that technology is. Where it lives and how people access it needs to reflect the place the medium has in the path-to-purchase of home buyers and in my view that means on company websites of real estate operations as well as agent websites of rich bespoke content rather than competing for attention of portals which as pure-play operations should be about efficiency rather than bogging people down.

As a closing comment and example. Here is possibly one of the most extensive (and expensive) multimedia productions I have ever seen for a single property. A US$26m property on the island of Maui. The property has its own website, naturally. It does have which must be unique a 15minute movie that barely shows the home itself (check out the Explore tab) as well as a guide video tour, a virtual reality tour and a Feng Shui appraisal – have 25 minutes to spare immerse yourself in Hale Ali'i

Former Realestate.co.nz CEO Alistair Helm is founder of Properazzi.

Comments and questions
2

Netrealty.co.nz has been using video tours for every listing for 18 months now. For the price of a 1/4 page ad in the NZ Herald it's a no brainer. The Herald advertising is mostly about agents promoting themselves to potential future vendors not selling toadys vendors properties to real buyers. The ROI proves this fact

Hello from Boulder, Co (USA) and thanks for taking the time to state your thoughts about video. I am a founder of a video marketing platform that has been focused entirely on real estate video since 2006. We have a filmmaker network of 5,000 production companies and--once the content is created--we are paid to help real estate professionals get the most value from their content. You are right to state that consumers should find, watch and share videos from real estate websites. But, the element that I think you are missing in your post is the fact that what video really does is sell agents and brokers -- the core value (which we did not intend) is that it helps agents win listings against agents not using video or high quality video. Regurgitating the same content from the webpage that people land on and calling it a "video" won't do the trick and that statement is true both of Redfin's content or Ken Burns slideshows. If I use text based searches to find homes in my desired area, and qualify properties using the photos (which is what people do), why would I care to see a smoke screen version of the same content within an animation? It's an insult to consumers' intelligence. Plus, once I come to know that the button that says "video" renders the same kind of animation, I am done watching them. It's a cheap SEO trick that will only work for a short period of time. Then we are back to the real statement -- video is the future of real estate. I really liked your arguments against video and you've made some very good points (that user generated videos should not be done etc), but nothing provides human scale like video. Video connects the dots (fragments) that text and photos create, for example how the home navigates from one room to the next or how great the street is. But, don't underestimate one simple truth that I've learned running the largest video platform in real estate: it wins listings. Best of luck in all you do!