By now, virtually every agent understands the value of incorporating video into the marketing of their listings. But, before you run out and hit that record button, be sure to begin with your end goal in mind.

Unlike the notorious phrase, “Shoot first, ask questions later,” preplanning — in other words, asking questions first, THEN shooting (in the video sense) — will reap great dividends. And by dividends, I mean increasing the likelihood that the video will be shared on social media and have people watching it longer — and as a result, you’ll generate more leads.

Just like building a quality house, it takes a blueprint to produce a truly effective video presentation. The same is true with what I’ll call the “video architecture” of a home tour. The most common mistake I see on a daily basis are videos that needlessly run incredibly long, all due to lack of preplanning. Imagine what would happen if you asked a construction company to build you a home, without a blueprint to give to them that outlined what the desired outcome was to be. You’d probably end up with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in addition to spending about four times the money and man-hours required for such a construction project.

That being said, your blueprint should consist of three things: (No. 1) a shot list; (No. 2) a script that is based off of your desired video shots; and (No. 3) a storyboard to tie it all together.

While you may have a short docudrama of a video in mind — and while the property features may be worthy — keep in mind that the average viewer will start to tune out after about 80-90 seconds. Preplanning will help you stick to this length or less. Start by asking the sellers what attracted them to the house when they purchased it and what features they added that they enjoy the most, then use that to build your shot list based on the top 10-15 sellable features of the property. Important: While developing your list of 10 to 15 shots, keep in mind that each one will take up around five to six seconds of “screen time” once the video is fully produced.

Next, write your script around your shot list by telling a story that flows about the home, keeping in mind the five- to six-second rule above. Overall, a professionally narrated 90-second script will consist of around 130 words (give or take). For a house or community video, be sure to focus your script on both the selling features AND the benefits.


A storyboard will help you plan your shots and scene flow.

Tie it all together with a storyboard, which gives an image-based description of what the viewer will end up seeing in each scene within the video (accompanied by a quick sentence description per image), while taking into consideration the scene flow, what angle to use, what direction to pan, and when to zoom in or out, etc.

Besides helping you shoot a professional-looking presentation, a well-thought-out video blueprint will help you tell a better story, while dramatically cutting the expense of shooting and postproduction under control.

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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