Expensive, Hollywood-style property promotion videos are non-starters for most homes and their real estate agents. That doesn’t mean a well-planned video home tour — which acts as a virtual 24-hour open house — shouldn’t be part of your marketing plan — especially because effective video tours are likely to be less costly than you may think. 

Expensive, Hollywood-style property promotion videos are non-starters for most homes and their real estate agents. That doesn’t mean a well-planned video home tour — which acts as a virtual 24-hour open house — shouldn’t be part of your marketing plan — especially because effective video tours are likely to be less costly than you may think.

To decide whether video is right for your listing and how to create one if it is, consider these 10 points:

1. Are your listing’s most appealing features obvious in still photos, or do they require explanation or demonstration?

A kitchen with sparkling quartz countertops, nicely painted cabinetry and glowing stainless appliances shows up beautifully in photos and 3-D video tours, which go a step beyond stills by allowing viewers to pan around the room.

But soft-close drawers and doors, whisper quiet dishwashers and other built-ins may be most effectively demonstrated on video.

Look at every room and all outdoor spaces from this standpoint: do its good points stand out in photos, or do they require the demonstration and/or explanation afforded only by video and narration?

2. Are there likely to be negative perceptions of the property that you can counter better with video than still, or even 3-D presentations?

For example, if buyers are apt to think the location of your listing could be noisy, nothing overcomes that stereotype than a video with consistently low ambient noise levels — inside and out. You can even make the home’s stillness a feature!

3. Is it easy for prospective buyers to see how rooms relate to one another in stills online?

Can you capture in one or two shots — or a toggled pan — a perfect vantage spot, say, from the kitchen that covers all living spaces? Or can you only demonstrate the relationship of various spaces to each other via a live walk-through?

4. What do you want your tour to accomplish, and who should it appeal to?

If your tour consists solely of stills — with or without a 3-D option — will the presentation effectively showcase the best features of the property and appeal to your target market?

If not, and a buyer has to “see it to appreciate it” and/or hear an explanation, consider creating a video tour.

5. Are local resources available to create a professional video tour?

This isn’t a do-it-yourself project. Talk to outstanding local real estate photographers to see if they also provide videography and at what cost.

If videography is offered, does the photographer have a sound studio onsite or one he or she can recommend? If you’re not a confident script-writer (and don’t know one), can the videographer recommend a script writer?

If not, look for video tours on the MLS, and ask fellow agents who scripted them. Or opt for stills and a 3-D presentation, especially if your target market is very tech savvy.

6. How do you start to create a video, and what do you do with it?

First, you — or your script writer — develop a document called a “treatment.” The best visual home tours are brief experiences that resemble quick in-person tours.

So imagine taking a prospective buyer through the property as you point out the home’s advantages. Then, outline that vision — along with key verbal points — in writing. That’s your treatment.

As long as you’re in planning mode, list the social media outlets where you can post your house tour to generate more interest — and visits — to your listing website.

7. How can you show more than you say?

As the videographer moves through rooms based on your treatment, plan to talk about things like location, how rooms relate to each other and unnoticeable facets like how recently the kitchen was remodeled with permits.

But let the camera demonstrate that kitchen’s features by capturing the built-in rotisserie’s slow turns, the dishwasher’s quiet run, a panning shot that moves from kitchen to dining room before turning to the slider opening to the outdoor dining area.

8. How long should it be?

Although it’s standard to record more footage than you need, you want the tour to last only two or three minutes. So before your videographer edits the piece and records the audio track, make a list of scenes and features from most to least important.

If something has to go, give the videographer permission to delete whole segments working from the bottom of the list up.

9. What should you know about audio?

Print out the script for each room or area on a single sheet of paper in easily readable type. Then record each segment as a stand-alone audio clip, leaving “dead air” before and after it. This allows the editor to lay in narration exactly where it’s needed.

Appropriate music playing at low levels behind the narration will tie the script together. If you don’t want to record the script yourself, ask your videographer to recommend voice-over “talent.” You can specify age and gender — even ethnicity.

10. Can you promote yourself as well?

It may be tempting, but do not even think of using the video home tour to promote yourself. Prospective buyers want to see the property.

You can be on camera to open the door and voice the script off camera. Anything more than that leans toward self-promotion — a huge turnoff to prospective buyers.

Think through each of these 10 points before you decide whether a video tour is right for your listing and its marketing strategy.

Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.

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