The Power of Being Face-to-Face (on the Web)

by 11 Mar 2012

Putting your properties on video can work, if you stay focused on what you’re selling.

( --  Sales is a contact sport and no one knows this better than the professional real estate agent. I’m not talking here about the number of contacts in your database, the number of people who know someone you know. I’m talking about face-to-face, breathing the same air, shaking hands and signing contracts contact. For as long as professional agents have been keeping the U.S. housing industry moving, that’s the way it’s been done. But there are changes on the horizon.

There is a new generation of real estate buyer just coming into the market and these young buyers were raised in a different kind of community. To them, there is little difference between a face-to-face interaction and a quick text. They have a sense of always being connected to their friends and family and often get as much out of a conversation face-to-face via Skype as they do face-to-face old school.

This poses both benefits and risks to modern real estate salespeople. On the one hand, online networks and the communities that have sprung up there can make it easier to contact many prospective buyers with fewer messages. On the other, this new generation of buyers are not likely to sit still for outdated marketing or sales techniques that has simply found their way to the web. No, for this group, it will take much more creativity to get your messages through.

The medium of choice for the new generation

There can be no doubt that younger buyers are online. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, fully 99% of those aged 18-29 are active users of social media in the U.S. They’re followed closely by the 30-49 crowd, where 89% are active users. Of all of the Internet users, 85% regularly watch online video. These viewers typically watch more than 12 hours of video per month.

Video is powerful. With the right lighting and background music, moving pictures can captivate us, shift our attitudes and even spur us to action. A good videographer can turn a quaint bungalow into a perfect hideaway, a tract house into a perfect home. Younger Americans eat up video at a furious pace. They expect to see it on every website they visit and may click away if they do not.

If you want your message to resonate with younger buyers, you need to be online and you need to send your messages out via online video. Okay, so maybe you knew that. Maybe you already know a real estate agent that walks through every new listing with a video camera. If so, you also know that those boring videos aren’t actually moving houses.

So what gives? How can a medium we know to be powerful be less than satisfactory in the hands of the nation’s real estate agents? The National Association of Realtors hasn’t pointed to a single home sold with video. Could it be that video, the medium that sells everything from cars to pharmaceuticals to political candidates, can’t sell a house?

Of course not. The problem is that our industry hasn’t figured out how to use video to sell yet and those that do know how to do it are selling the wrong thing.

What makes a good video

While a good video may not sell a house, a poorly recorded and produced video surely will not. The real estate must get a few things right in order to have any hope at all of getting a prospect interested in visiting a property.

The first rule relates to camera movement. When in doubt, don’t move it. Beginning videographers think that they must move the camera every time they move their eyes. That’s not the case, unless you want your viewers to feel like they’re hurtling through space and totally out of control. If the camera is moved at all, it should be slowly and in a smooth arc.

The second rule relates to audio. What we hear when we watch a video has been proven to be more important to the overall experience than what we see. In fact, the pictures can be grainy, out of focus or incomplete and if the audio holds it together, the video can be compelling. Walking through a property with a handheld camera and talking about the house breaks both of these basic rules.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle that real estate videographers must overcome is the camera’s natural ability to shrink large homes into what appear to be tight spaces. It has been said that the camera can add 15 pounds to a human placed in front of it. It can also peel thousands of square feet off a home because you cannot shoot the entire space at once. The place the videographer is standing never gets on tape.

But even if they get all of this right, the camera doesn’t move and the audio is warm and friendly and the video is shot in through a window to get the entire room in the shot, it still won’t be all that effective at selling the home. And do you know why? Because houses aren’t the most important thing the real estate agent is selling.

Producing video that will sell real estate

The first rule of producing video that will sell real estate is to spend most of the time selling the most important product--yourself. People are searching for a new home and that’s what they end up signing a contract for, but that’s not the first thing they buy. The first time a new home prospect says “yes,” it’s about the choice of the right real estate agent. That’s why a video that sells the prospect on a relationship with you is the surest way to get video to help you sell a house.

Now, you still have to do the other things right. You need to learn how to produce a good video, what three-point lighting is and how to edit both audio and video. You need the right equipment if you want your projects to be fast and easy to produce and you’ll need to set up and promote your YouTube channel.

Of course, if you don’t want to go back to college to learn how to produce good audio you can just hire a student from the local community college to do it for you. There are also plenty of affordable video production houses in any major U.S. city. Just remind whomever you hire that when it comes to video for real estate, less is more.

Most of the time, the camera should be focused on you as you let your prospects know what you know about the community and its amenities. This is the face time that video offers and it can absolutely convert website visitors into people who will grow to trust you. Over time, you’ll convince a number of new prospects that you are the real estate agent who can help them find the perfect new home. Then all you have to do is invite them in and show them some video.

About the author:

Rick Grant is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years of experience writing about real estate and home finance industries. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter at @nyrickgrant.


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