Being a tech-savvy, kind-of-geeky real estate agent, people seem surprised that I am not using video for property marketing or for marketing my services. There is some video on my Web sites but not very much. I prefer to use photographs for online marketing.
Photography has been around since 1839, and the first picture was produced in 1827. We use a different kind of technology to produce photographs today, but they remain two-dimensional still representations of what the photographer sees as she looks through the viewfinder. Video is newer, more high-tech, and sexier than photography.
Videos are a great way of communicating what a property looks like, in detail, but they take more time and money to create than photos do, and it takes longer to view them.
If it took the same amount of time and cost to make a video as it does to take property photos, I still see some major drawbacks to using it — the biggest being the amount of time it takes a home buyer to play a property video.
Buyers can quickly browse property photos — they have an amazingly short attention span. We get their eyeballs for only a few seconds. Viewing a video takes time and mouse clicks. The entire video has to be viewed to see all of the photos.
When it comes to attracting buyers, I like to lay all of the photos out on a single page so that they can be quickly viewed. I make them large enough for a buyer to see them all in one glance. If the buyer is interested, he or she can click on them, view larger photos, virtual tours and occasionally a video. Buyers can’t glance at a video — all they see is a player and maybe one blurry picture.
When it comes to promoting my services, video is a poor choice for me. I don’t have the face of a movie star or the voice of a news anchor. Potential clients are not going to be wowed by the visual or by the sound, and it could frighten pets and small children.
But for some agents, like a friend of mine who is a former actress and does some modeling on the side, video would be a great way to advertise.
I might not be reading the right information, but to date I have not seen any studies indicating that property videos help in selling real estate. It is the buyers’ opinions I am interested in. Most of what I have read about video has been written by the makers of video sites, video software, cameras, widgets and companies that sell to the real estate industry.
There are studies that indicate that both buyers and their agents are attracted to online listings that include photos. In fact, buyers just can’t get enough of them. They collect property fliers and seldom ask to see homes without first viewing some photos.
Property photos are a huge marketing opportunity. As I look through the photos on our multiple listing service, many are very poor and it is easy to make listings stand out. Our MLS does not support video, but I imagine they will someday, and the videos will be poor just like the photos are today.
I am waiting for someone to give me some evidence that videos on the Internet help to sell real estate before I jump on the video bandwagon. It doesn’t look like a must-have right now. With any kind of technology: Just because I can use it doesn’t mean that I should use it.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog. Boardman will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.
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