Do’s and don’ts of real estate listing videos

Remember that first-time buyers look for different features than investors or empty-nesters

What’s the difference between a blockbuster movie and a flop we can barely recall after we’ve left the theater? The answer is powerful storytelling. The same applies to listing videos.

Here are the top do’s and don’ts to consider in the beginning stages of mapping out your video strategy, which will help you tell a captivating video story about every listing you market.

Videographer showcasing lifestyle image via Shutterstock.
Videographer showcasing lifestyle image via Shutterstock.

Don’t skip the pre-planning stage. If you think you can grab a camera, start shooting and then figure it out later in editing, you’re going to waste time and money. First, determine the best strategy to achieve your goal for the property. The strategy you’d use for a luxury home will be different than the game plan for a starter home. Pre-planning enables you to budget time and expenses in a way that aligns with the commissions you expect to earn.

Do start with an outline. As you know, first-time buyers look for different features than investors or empty-nesters. Use this knowledge to outline a compelling lifestyle story unique to the home featured in your video. Yes, your listing video should unfold in a way that flows and makes sense. But it doesn’t mean that every video you shoot has to follow the same formula. Get a little creative.

Don’t include every room in your outline. If the half-bath and laundry room are nothing spectacular, why waste time shooting them? No one expects to see every square foot of a home in a listing video. Focus on features that give buyers a clear, engaging snapshot of the lifestyle they’ll enjoy when they buy the home.

Do make a detailed shot list. Video shoots don’t have to eat up five or six hours of your day. When you use your outline to develop a shot list, you can virtually cut this time in half. Like a movie trailer, the final cut of your listing video should run between 60 and 90 seconds, and every clip should be no longer than five to six seconds each. The math tells us a 90-second video requires 15 to 18 different shots. Make a detailed list of the number and types of shots you’ll need in order to tell an awesome story.

Don’t waste valuable audio. Develop a voice-over script that supports and complements the lifestyle story you’re telling. When it comes to visual storytelling, research shows over 40 percent of a viewer’s experience comes from the audio.

In addition to the things to consider that are listed above, here are a few more quick tips, which I’ll discuss in-depth in future articles:

  • Never shoot with a hand-held camera, because it makes shots shaky and jerky.
  • Take three good pans and three good tilts of each shot on your list for more editing options.
  • Shoot home interiors during the brightest time of the day and always use an umbrella light.
  • For home exteriors, shoot during “golden hour” — when the sun rises or sets on the horizon.
  • Keep windows behind the camera, because filming directly into them washes out the scene.
  • Invest in the right equipment. You can find a basic list in this article.

Of course, if you’re still uncertain about doing it yourself, there are other options. Consider turnkey broker services like our ListingVideos.com program. Or hire a freelancer using the must-do’s outlined in my previous articleEither way, don’t put off adding video to your marketing strategy. Today’s buyers anticipate seeing them, as it is no longer the marketing exception, but the expectation.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.


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