How to Use Video to Sell Your House

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With Google acquiring YouTube for $1.65 billion yesterday, video on the Internet has arrived in a big, big way.

For many years, I’ve thought that video is a very effective way to sell something over the Internet. During the dotcom boom, I worked for a media company where we pioneered the use of streaming video profiles for use in e-commerce settings. In 2001 however, we were hamstrung by low broadband adoption rates and far too many inefficient media formats that required cumbersome plugins. (So, what do you encode in; Quicktime, Windows Media, RealPlayer etc. etc.?).

Fast forward a few years. It seems that the online video industry may have settled on a universal, ubiquitous format – Macromedia Adobe Flash. It’s simple, transparent and most modern browsers already ship with the plugin installed. Plus, it starts nearly instantaneously, so no painful “Buffering 10%” messages anymore, thank God.

Together, higher broadband penetration and Flash are going to propel web marketing increasingly into things like video and interactive multimedia, much like we imagined could happen five years ago.

What this means for real estate is there are going to be more and more ways to use these tools to market a home on the Internet. Especially high-end, multi-million dollar listings, where they typical have longer sales cycles and much more discerning buyers. Take this article from today’s Sarasota, FL Herald Tribune for example: “Builder lets his luxury homes do the talking“.

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Builder Bruce Saba and Broker Michael Saunders, are now using video to sell their homes. Why? Because only video is able to capture the unique qualities of the home.

The films focus on unique homes, like Bella Vita, and interesting places to “convey the emotional story behind the fabulous spaces, intriguing people, and inviting locations associated with them.”

Their site, which is available at www.floridagulfstories.com, is very Flash-heavy, which I wouldn’t normally recommend for a web site due to SEO incompatibility. For the target market they’re chasing for this type of listing however, I believe it is suitable. (Though I did get a number of odd script errors in Firefox). The videos themselves are produced by Inman Stories, the folks behind the neighborhood review site TurnHere.com, and are very slickly produced. Check out Bainbridge Island Property, for another example of Inman’s excellent videos.

Video adds an intimacy to a listing that a static page is unavaible to convey. Only through video can you convey qualities that text and pictures fail to illustrate. And, by focusing on the people behind the stories, like Inman does, it somehow humanizes the whole process a little bit, even though you know you’re watching a sales pitch.

Now of course, the investment required in hiring a professional video production company like Inman means that for all but the most high-end listings, it’s probbably cost prohibitive to incorporate video into your marketing efforts. But as I wrote several months ago, there are ways you can use YouTube to host a kickass presentation that you yourself can create on the cheap.

But the bottom line here is that many of the technological barriers have been removed and so with a little creativity, a truly effective multimedia marketing presentation on the Internet is now attainable.

More reading: Using OneTrueMedia to create a multimedia presentation