NEW YORK — Sure, they’re called "videos," but don’t underestimate the audio aspects of real estate videos.

Experienced video-shooting real estate agents and video professionals shared their insights on what makes a presentation sound good during a session earlier this month at the Real Estate Connect conference in New York City.

Botching the audio is one sure way to turn off a homebuyer, according to Fred Light, owner of, which specializes in real estate videos in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

"It’s at least 50 percent of the video," said Light. "People will put up with mediocre video, but not with mediocre audio," which will likely cause them to tune out.

Light suggested a minimal investment of $15 (and up) in a USB microphone for better sound quality. He also suggested not narrating the tour while shooting the video, but dubbing it later.

Getting the best sound quality for narration is tricky, though, Light said.

"I have (an agent) customer who does her own narration, and she goes into a closet and records" because the enclosed space improves the sound quality, he said. "You should at least get in a small room with carpeting."

Increasingly, background music is a must, but don’t run afoul of copyright laws, advised the participants in the panel, "Gearing Up for Video Success."

Some agents just take whatever music they like for their videos, thinking they’ll just seek forgiveness after the fact, if need be, rather than seeking legal permission first, said Brian Copeland, an agent with Village Real Estate Services in Nashville and longtime creator of real estate videos.

Don’t do that, he said. "The monitoring organizations will go after the money" they’re owed, Copeland said. Nonetheless, there are plenty of resources for music at minimal cost, he added.

Searching online for "royalty-free music" will yield plenty of options, said Amy Smythe Harris, broker associate with Realty Associates in Houston and longtime industry trainer in technology and social media.

"That doesn’t mean it’s free," she said, adding that some sites will sell one-time rights to music for about $30 a song. "And don’t think that because you’ve paid to download something from iTunes you’re buying the (rights to the) song," she said.

Even with music that might be in the public domain, such as the classics, there are rights considerations for performers, arrangers, etc., she said.

Mark Passersby, CEO of Real Estate Video Tour Systems in Lansing, Mich., also suggested searching for "music for iMovie" to find online sources.

Give some thought to using the same music or opening sounds consistently to create a "signature sound" for all of your videos, Copeland suggested.

"Add audio to start branding, and be consistent," he said. "Plus, don’t use music with lyrics — it’s distracting."

Light, a professional videographer, made the case that video production isn’t a casual undertaking.

"It takes a lot of equipment, takes a lot of time to learn," he said. "If you want to sell real estate, this is not something you’re going to learn to do in 20 minutes."

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