If you’ve been in real estate a while, you probably remember when listing photos were “the next big thing.” Photo showcases, especially, could really give you a competitive edge. Now, however, photos are a given. Buyers expect to see them, and are likely to skip over any listing without them.

If you want to maintain a competitive edge in today’s market, you need video — true video, not just photo slideshows or 360-degree pan-and-scans. In this day of ubiquitous content streaming, video is what catches (and holds) buyers’ attention. If you’ve never used video to market a listing, here’s a short primer on how to get started.

Choose your video type

Video house tour (courtesy of VideoLens)

A walk-through video tour is a solid choice for any listing. It adds realism, gives buyers a true feel for the layout and size of a home, and comes across as polished and innovative. There are other options, however. Some sellers and agents prefer an artsier approach, scripted mini-movies complete with characters and action sequences that tell the home’s story and highlight its functionality. Others go for irreverent, SNL-esque viral real estate marketing. Depending on your preference, you can choose a particular style and stick with it for every listing, or you can let your clients choose on a case-by-case basis.

Choose your pro

There’s a pretty glaring difference between professionally produced and amateur video — and you don’t want your listings to seem amateurish. So once you know the type of video you want, find a good pro to make it. If you’re not sure whom to hire, ask fellow agents, your brokerage or your professional association for recommendations. Look for someone with experience producing the kind of video you want, an all-professional staff, and value-added services like technical assistance or Web page hosting. Fees are usually based on square footage, length of finished video, or number of hours required for shooting.

Choose your payment policy

Since video real estate marketing is relatively new, there is no nationwide norm for who foots the bill. Video production may fall under your state or brokerage’s rules governing third-party services. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to pay as you do for photos. If you routinely absorb that cost, do the same for video. If not, pass it on to the seller. Or tie the cost to listing price: Offer video marketing as a seller-paid option on lower-priced homes, but include it for free on high-dollar properties. Just keep in mind that, if you ask the seller to pay, he or she may want more control over planning the video or selecting the videographer.

We hear from agent after agent that video sells homes faster, and for better prices. It’s an added expense, but one that’s worth the cost.

Kathryn Royster is the communications coordinator for VideoLens, whose HouseLens division is one of the nation’s largest providers of video house tours for real estate listings. Her personal real estate passions are old houses and getting in over her head on restoration projects.

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