Do video right, or don’t do it at all

Broker Notebook

Amateur video image via Shutterstock.Amateur video image via Shutterstock.

Not very many real estate agents are using video. A lot of people seem to have a problem with that.

We are told over and over that we need to use more video. I have watched some really bad video made by real estate agents, and I have seen it used as an example of a “best practice” for other agents.

On YouTube, we can see how many views a video gets. It is a shame we can’t tell if the entire video was actually watched.

Personally, I love video but my attention span is short and video has to be pretty gripping to hold my attention. I love to watch TED Talks videos. Sometimes I do that while I am cooking, and am usually listening more than watching.

Some real estate agents know how to record video on their iPhone, which seems to be the gold standard for real estate agent video. But they don’t know how to upload it and share it or how to live stream it.

There is a mythology about real estate video that the agent has to be on camera. I have watched agents shoot video of themselves while they drive a car. A questionable practice, in that it may not be safe or even legal in all states. Not to mention that it doesn’t make for very interesting video.

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Sometimes agents sit at their computer and talk to the webcam and record a video. They sit there in a T-shirt or sweatshirt, and I can see all of the clutter and sometimes debris behind them on the floor.

I am not sure how to say this, but some of us just don’t look good on camera. We lack the polish required to talk our way through a business video.

There are some video advocates who preach that video is so important that quality doesn’t matter. Some of the popular real estate videos get as many as 70 views a year. I guess it cannot do too much harm if hardly anyone is watching.

NAR did a survey in which sellers indicated that they would like their agent to use video. But I think it is a tremendous leap of logic to assume that they prefer videos of agents as opposed to, say, videos of the insides of houses.

There are many things that can be videotaped in addition to someone talking and looking at the camera. Unfortunately, shooting a video is a big deal. It requires planning and some thought. It takes time and skill to produce, edit and share.

Video has been the next big thing for many years. We are seeing more video today than we saw five years ago, but, from a business point of view, do agents who use video make more money than those who do not? Are buyers and sellers happier with the services of an agent who uses video than they are with the services of an agent who does not?

I have a lot of respect for those who use video and use it well. There are not many good examples in the real estate industry. The Corcoran Group sets a good example, with fun, creative, short, high-quality videos that are real estate-related.

Unlike other real estate videos, Corcoran Group videos get watched. It’s important to note that the videos did not make the agents successful. It was success that enabled them to create the videos — an important distinction.

When I look at the Corcoran Group’s videos, I get the message that they don’t do anything halfway, and are serious about their business and their community.

My guess is that in five years video will still be the next big thing in real estate, and I will be writing this article again just as I did five years ago. There will be agents looking for the instant success that they think video will bring.

I am not at all worried about my business failing because I am not using video, and I doubt it I will be using much more of it five years from now. Maybe I am not doing what the experts recommend, but what I am doing with photography and writing is working very well for me.

Producing poor-quality video just to use video doesn’t make any sense from a marketing point of view. How an agent appears on camera in her messy office or behind the wheel of her car matters. Agents are just as likely to repel potential clients as attract them.

I know what my strengths are, and am more likely to hire a pro or buy some video if I need it, rather than wasting my time producing poor-quality video just to have it. Learning how to produce high-quality video is always an option, but I would rather continue to improve upon my still photography skills, and leave the video to someone else.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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