Video tours of real estate listings are a nice perk for house hunters and can be an impressive tool at the ready for brokers, but how important is it for realtors to understand and use video today?

Real Estate Videos

This week at Inman’s Real Estate Connect conference in NYC, John Passerini, VP Interactive Marketing for Sotheby’s International Realty, asserted that video is an absolute necessity for realtors in 2015. “Consumers are ready to consume video,” Passerini said in a panel on creating video consumers love. “That’s the way they want to experience properties.” Throughout the day, realtors and vendors alike agreed that the use of real estate video is no longer optional. The question is, as a realtor or broker, what type of video will you use and how will you use it?

There are a number of options available to realtors when it comes to video – from interactive 3D video tours and futuristic virtual and augmented reality options to more traditional video formats. We took a look at the different options out there and some of the pros and cons of each, complete with insights from some of the experts at Real Estate Connect.

Hi-Tech Interactive Video

Video technology is evolving at a rapid rate. Realtors today can create 3D digital renderings of as yet unfinished homes, or send a drone to capture the breathtaking scenery surrounding a high-end listing.

In a talk on How To Understand and Use 3D VideoDavid Eisenberg, Co-founder and CEO of Floored, delved into some of the interactive video options being used for real estate. He took a look at 3D visualization platforms like Matterport, which takes a Google Street View-like approach, and his own company Floored, which enables the creation of fully interactive 3D models that allow viewers to see virtually any aspect of a space from any angle.

“Unlike a traditional video,” says Eisenberg, “I’m in control of what I’m seeing when I see it. The interactivity allows viewers to see whatever they’d like to see, how they’d like to see it.”

Some super tech-savvy realtors are taking things to the next level, incorporating virtual reality and augmented reality video into their toolsets. A virtual reality tour using technology like Oculus VR can take a potential buyer inside a home from anywhere in the world. Some realtors are already thinking about using Microsoft’s HoloLens, a set of goggles that project holograms into real world spaces, to personalize home tours with all the dressings that would appeal to each individual buyer.

Eisenberg believes that “virtual reality will inform the way we use technology to sell homes in the future,” but pointed out the high price point of these types of technologies have lots of realtors struggling with whether they are worth the investment or not. A custom 3D video of a listing can cost upwards of $3000. That’s a lot of money for agents to invest. That’s why Eisenberg says they want to know, “does this move the needle for my customers?”

Traditional Video

Traditional video, on the other hand, has proved itself a valuable resource for realtors working on a limited budget, as well as for the realtors that have embraced more expensive technologies as a supplemental resource. Wednesday at Real Estate Connect, John Passerini explained that “people want stories complemented with video content.” Realtors are rising to the challenge, using video for everything from home tours to agent profiles, neighborhood features, market reports and more.

Realtor Brian Lewis, a Halstead Property broker who says he has sold homes to a buyer in Mexico City based on a video alone, stands by the importance of video in the real estate world. “If you embrace video and bring your own personality to it,” he says, “it will pay ten-fold.”

Real Estate Video

Professionally Produced Video

Many realtors have turned to professional production companies to help them create their real estate videos, as they lack the time and experience to plan, shoot and edit video on their own. A professional production crew can create amazing home tours, complete with drone shots, expert lighting, and a unique score. But going professional can also be pricey, costing thousands or even tens of thousands for a single video.

Video doesn’t have to translate to a big commitment of time or money. Mark Fitzpatrick, CEO of RUHM Luxury Marketing, suggests reaching out to film students or cinematographers looking to build their reels as an affordable alternative to a big production company. Passerini also pointed out, “we see brokers using their iPhones to create real estate videos,” instead of spending money on expensive camera gear.

DIY Video

There are also a wide range of do-it-yourself options, which are cost-efficient alternatives to hiring a professional production crew and have been embraced by many small and medium-sized real estate businesses. Worried the low-budget route will make you look less professional? Brian Lewis says that while your videos may not look slick when working on a modest budget, they look authentic, which is oftentimes even more important.
Free DIY options include the video editing software that comes pre-installed on most computers – iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. These video editing tools are robust but can be tricky if you don’t have any editing experience (and time-consuming even if you do).

There are also simple video creation tools, like Animoto, that allow anyone to create a video quickly and easily. For those that are short on time and working on a budget, using your smart phone or an inexpensive camera to shoot photos and videos and an easy video maker is a great alternative to outsourced video. In minutes you can create a great home tour or agent profile video that showcases not only your properties but your own personality, which is great for building your personal brand.

Video has proved itself to be a powerful marketing tool for real estate, with consumers not only appreciating it but expecting it. If you’re not already incorporating video into your selling strategy there’s no better time to start than now.

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