I want to take a moment to reflect on the different types of real estate video tours I’ve seen many agents include in their MLS listings. Generally speaking, these video tours can be classified into one of three categories. Below I’ll post an example of all three video types and highlight each of their own pros, cons, and how they impact your online presence as a real-estate agent.
Plenty of videos claim to be ‘virtual tours’, but for definition sake, I consider a virtual tour not to be a video… Rather a virtual tour is when a Realtor creates (usually with an outside company for a fee) a 360° photo app that a visitor can interact with to virtually navigate through a listing on a website. These tours are shot with special cameras that use panoramic images which allow for the visitor to simulate a walk through as if they were actually there.
Thoughts on 360° Virtual Tours
- The presentation is nice, especially because the quality of the photos taken by the photographer are very high quality and usually superior to a majority of the other photos on the MLS. If you’ve read some of the other posts on our site, you’re probably familiar with creating better content is key, and these virtual tours are certainly a method to do just that.
- Dynamic User Control – The ability for the user to have control while viewing the property at their own pace is a nice touch. However, I don’t see any added value to this over having a standard gallery of images the user can scroll through…
- The music – often included in the background is annoying; especially when set to automatically play (a majority of the virtual tour providers I’ve reviewed do this).
- Cost – to get one of these done for each of your listings is usually pretty pricey. From the couple of sites I reviewed in the Toronto area, the cost for getting this done for one property ranges anywhere in the ball-park from $70 to $150.
I’ve seen plenty of agents use templates that take all of their photos from the listing already uploaded in the MLS and they slap on their nifty agency intro and then play some elevator-type music while the video automatically shifts through a slide show.
Thoughts on Video Slide Shows
- Attraction – Video content for one usually does a bit better at attracting users than plain text and image content. I know when I’m browsing through a real-estate site I almost always prefer view a listing that has video before I have a look at similar listing that does not. Have a look at this article published just last month on how videos have 41% higher click-through-rate when compared to non-video content.
By using a video slide show, it gives you a bit more control over the quality of the images that are being displayed to the user. I know for Toronto listings, photos sizes and quality are drastically decreased once they are uploaded to the MLS.
Branding & Exposure
depending on the rules with your local MLS, you may be able to include direct links to your website, phone number, or office address on the video. This especially could be helpful and effective if your video is uploaded into the MLS and shown on many other agent websites.
No Added Value –
There’s not really anything special about the information you’re providing to interested users. They can see the photos in the video just as easily as they can by using the gallery or slide show available for every other listing on the site. Ask yourself if you really would appreciate going to a real estate website, opening up a listing page, reviewing the basic photos and information, then if you would be a bit disappointed if the video you open, is the same as the photos you just scrolled through.
Elevator music, I’m sorry but does anyone actually feel that by adding some easy-listening tune to a listing that it’s going to help make an impression on potential buyers or tenants? I think you need to consider how many users might quickly click off your video altogether if the music is annoying or interfering with their quiet work environment.
- Speed – I can click-through an html slide show or gallery relatively quickly. If a listing has 15 photos included, I know I can go through those and digest the information within less than 3 seconds a photo on average (45 seconds). Why would anyone want to spend 2 minutes listening to some music that they may not enjoy, to view the same information on a video that takes 2 or more minutes to view?
When an agent does a very personalized video tour of their listing. They spend time (mostly behind the camera) walking through the entire property while commenting on the different features and benefits that particular home has to offer. — very much in the same way most agents would conduct a walk through for a regular showing with a potential buyer.
Thoughts on Video Walk-through Tours
- Power of Attention — this method uniquely gives the Realtor the power of engaging and hopefully keeping the users attention throughout the duration of the video. For example, if a property has a great view from the balcony, the Realtor can focus on that key feature by spending more time, on video showing the view from the balcony.
- Engagement – this method provides what is often the first opportunity to start building trust with interested buyers or tenants. By walking through a property you’ve listed and speaking about its benefits and even setbacks, you are also portraying your professionalism, personality, and sending strong trust signals to a person interested in your listing.
- Time – this method is the only one that really gives you a way to keep your user interested for more than a minute or two. Given that the users watching your video are spending more time on your site, which is one of the many strong indicators that Google looks for when ranking your websites search rank, it also gives you more time to feed valuable information that they might otherwise overlook on your site.Additionally, it’s also an added benefit that it saves you time. As a real-estate agent your most valuable asset is your time, and by having a video walk-through, you are allowing your clients to view a much more detailed impression of the property; without having to schedule appointments to do it yourself personally. Then when someone has seen your video, lets you know that they would like to see it in person, you know that they are more likely to buy or lease.
- Time again – initially it’s going to take you some additional time when you are first getting familiar and comfortable doing these videos on your own. Check below for some good resources and options we’ve referenced to help you get started.
- Equipment – You’re likely going to have to invest in a good wide-lens camera to produce the quality of video you are looking for. Although some might be able to use their smart-phone if it’s already equipped with a good camera. Otherwise you might have to pick up a $150-$300 digital camcorder from your local electronics store.
- Setup – You’ll also have to invest some time making sure that your videos are properly edited and that you have a good video platform (like Vimeo or YouTube) to host and publish your video content.
So you recommend using Video Walk-throughs?
Absolutely, not only will it save you time in the long run, but it will also save you money, especially if you were paying for virtual tour companies to list your properties already. Additionally, Re-Invent Realty is all about teaching and empowering Real Estate agents so they can succeed in Today and Tomorrow’s rapidly expanding internet market. So learning how to properly do a professional video tour with your own equipment, is definitely something we think Tomorrow’s Agent should put on their bucket list.
Ok, where do I start and what do you recommend?
First I recommend you check out our how-to guides (coming soon) on setting up your own YouTube page and what type of camera’s and equipment work best for real estate agents. If you are looking to get started right away, you should check out Virtually Incredible’s site (links below) which features not only recommendations for what equipment you should buy but also provides free training on how to create professional video walk-through tours.
But what if I’m not very tech savvy?
That’s OK, services like YouTube and Vimeo are improving everyday by making their services not only more powerful, but also more user-friendly. If you would like to get a head start I recommend you check out Virtually Incredible, which has an ongoing service that will assist you with professionally optimizing your videos. What I particularly like about this service is that they give you feedback on every video you create, so you can get better as you go along.
Check out their video below on the benefits of how their Video Mastery Service can help you produce high quality video walk through tours for your real estate listings.
How are you using video content to promote your real estate business?
Let us know by commenting below.