Do You Have the Power?

An aerial image of a property with a play button

Despite one in three Britons (20 million people) watching at least one online video a week, many UK estate agents have still not embraced the amazing power of video.

Over an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, of every hour, of every day and Cisco predicts that almost 80% of web traffic will be video by 2018. Without doubt, property businesses that fail to include video in their internet marketing strategies do so at their peril. Ignoring video will affect your sales, and your profits. Having spent years researching the use of video in property marketing, I’ve found that although customers in each sector of the market have different expectations in terms of the marketing video package, one thing is certain; buyers expect to see a property video.

With more than 90% of property buyers starting their property searches online, vendees demand far more than an online listing with photographs or, at best, for prime properties, a very beautiful, coffee table style brochure. Buyers want to see a video before they waste their valuable time, and yours, going to view a property. What’s more, buyers trust video far more than photographs.

When I’ve spoken to less progressive agents about property video, I’ve heard everything from ‘our clients aren’t interested’ to ‘it’s too expensive, we can’t justify the cost’. It’s not just buyers who want videos though, sellers want videos for their properties too. Don’t believe me? Ask your vendors.

Property videos are a win, win, win. Videos are winners for vendors because they do not waste time preparing their home for inappropriate viewings; buyers win because they can refine their property searches and be genuinely keen before even visiting a property; and as an agent, you win by filtering out those fruitless viewings, securing more instructions because vendors want to sign up with agents offering property videos and, with increased numbers of viewings on each property as your audience both in the UK and abroad widens, you’ll achieve a sales figure closer to the asking price.

Whether you choose to use video as a service you sell on to vendors for profit, or absorb the cost and use video as a USP to attract more instructions, is still very subjective. There are business models where agents absorb the full cost, shares the cost 50/50 with the vendor and others where the video is fully funded by the vendor and sold at cost, or for profit.

The term ‘property video’ can in itself be confusing – it can mean a collection of standard property photographs stitched together with a professional, or agent, voice over reading out the written description. A property video can also be a simple walk through, a 360° virtual tour, an aerial viewpoint or little bit of everything. The USA and Australia are certainly far ahead of us with very slick promotional property videos. At the top end, US realtors have been rumoured to spend $1 million on just one Hollywood mini-movie style property marketing video. I’ve yet to track this fabled video down, but as a seasoned producer with a background in music videos, drama and film making, I know that high end production can be expensive. I once paid £4,000 for half a day for a particular hairdresser a celebrity demanded, but even so, $1 million seems outrageously steep.

Figuring out what type of property video best suits your clientèle and property stock can be challenging. Property video production in the UK is still what I’d call ‘pioneer territory’ and since the arrival of the drone, the snake oil merchants have moved in and overall, the quality of property video offerings has declined, rather than improved. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve sat in the office watching property videos with open mouths, totally amazed at the dismal quality of some videos turned out for property professionals, especially in the aerial video sector. Being permitted to fly a drone commercially does not mean that person has an eye for a shot, understands marketing or even important technical basics like editing and pacing.

Much like property photography, it’s easier to engage emotionally with a simple, but well made video than any badly produced property video. Cheap is not always best, but nor is really expensive. I’ve seen ineffective, poorly executed videos at both ends of the spectrum. The major issue is that many videos do not engage the viewer, so the result is of little additional benefit than a well taken photo.

Property video tours are marketing videos and, like any other form of marketing, knowing how to talk to your target audience is essential. A drone whizzing around at 400 ft and then posting that unedited video online is not going to appeal much beyond the novelty factor which, incidentally, is wearing quite thin. I’m certainly not knocking drones, they are a phenomenal tool when used correctly and that’s why we regard them as an essential part of our property video productions, after all, who wouldn’t want to use helicopter style video at a fraction of helicopter hire rates when filming a small cottage never mind a mansion?

I can’t emphasise enough that every home on the market should have some form of video, but the type of video depends upon what the home warrants, the agency style and what has to be done for marketing that property to your customers. One size certainly does not fit all in property marketing videos. A simple walk through video shows the flow of a small family home perfectly, but for a 365 room mansion, a walk through video would be wholly inappropriate.

The question is not whether you can afford to use video, but can you afford not to use professional video to market your properties?

Thank you for reading.

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