11 tips for making solid real estate videos

I get questions quite a bit from real estate agents and loan officers about making videos, so I wanted to provide some tips on how to make a really good real estate video. These tips are not necessarily meant for home tours, but rather for sharing content on a website, blog, Facebook or Twitter. A good video can help build trust and convey professionalism for your brand, while a bad video can accomplish the opposite.

Right now I have 158 videos on my YouTube page and I make videos regularly for clients, non-profit ventures, my Sacramento appraisal business and to promote events through the Sacramento Association of Realtors. I also started a real estate video site.

Ingredients for a stellar real estate video:

1. Keep the camera steady. If it looks like there is an earthquake, you need to find someone else to hold the camera (or invest in a tripod).

2. You don’t need to buy a professional camera. You can use a basic handheld camera that takes both photos and videos. Most cameras are good enough to post on YouTube. The Flip is outstanding for videos.

3. When you film, make sure you record at the middle or higher size on your camera – not the smallest size. Look at your settings. The smallest size is usually 320 x 240 pixels and the middle or larger size is 640 x 480. Stick with the middle size because it’ll look better online. Most video players are larger than 320 pixels wide, so if your video is small in its original format, it can look odd or distorted when the online video player stretches your video.

4. Shoot in good light and remember that vibrant colors help things look interesting. Avoid dim and dark places because it just looks depressing.

5. Don’t copy others. Be yourself and be personable. It’s easy to sniff out when someone goes into “selling mode” too. You want people to feel comfortable with you and not get the sense you’re intentionally marketing to them. Avoid the used car salesman vibe.

6. Use a title or opening slide (with a photo or logo) and a closing slide with contact information. A polished slide in the beginning and end can help set your video apart from others and help your video look more professional. If you don’t know how to make a slide like this, I can help you (if you are a local agent – just call me). Examples below.

7. Think about pacing. Your slide at the beginning should be about 3 seconds or so and the slide at the end with your contact information can probably be 5-7 seconds at most. If your opening slide is 10-15 seconds long, you’ll probably lose your audience. If you use a title on your opening slide, just make sure your slide is long enough so people can read the title, but not too long. Get straight to the point by having the slide fade in and then fade out before the video comes in. Make your video fade in and fade out too (that’s accomplished very easily with #11 below).

8. Keep your video to a few minutes or less if you can. People have a short attention span. They’ll certainly watch your video if it’s really good, but if your videos are consistently seven minutes long, you’d be wise to consider shortening them to 1-3 minutes if possible. You don’t have to try to make each video the definitive resource on whatever you’re talking about either. Just get on base and after a while you’ll begin to score runs.

9. Your content ought to be focused on being resourceful to others and providing helpful and good information. Having good content is the key to a successful video and more important than any point mentioned above. Think about what questions people are asking and also what sort of things you know that will be helpful to others. This is the type of stuff you can talk about. Add value. Be a resource. And don’t be afraid to fail forward. Some videos won’t be as good as others. Certain ones will be too long or something won’t be quite right about them. That’s okay. You’ll improve over time. For example, some of my early videos make me cringe. But that’s how it goes. We never get better unless we try.

10. Don’t oversell. You definitely want to tell people how they can contact you (briefly), but be cautious to not just talk about yourself the whole time. That’s old school and it makes you look self-focused. We build trust with others through video by being personable and providing good content. If someone senses they can trust you, they’ll contact you. Trust builds business – bottom line.

11. Last but not least, you’ll need video editing software. Here are a few options:

Microsoft Movie Maker: If you have a PC, you very likely already have Microsoft Movie Maker installed already. This is a free program and really the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to movie making. Your end-product can still be decent with Movie Maker, but only if you have a good looking intro image and contact image (seriously). The fonts you can use for titles and contact information with Movie Maker can really make a video look cheesy in my opinion, but if you use your own images like I mentioned in #6, it can help boost the overall quality to a decent level until you buy editing software.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio: The non-professional “Sony Vegas Movie Studio 10” will cost you about $100. This is a very powerful tool and you can even do some neat stuff with a green screen too. In my opinion, no video software is really all that user-friendly. There is a learning curve for using anything. I think this is definitely true when it comes to Sony Vegas. What has truthfully saved me countless hours is to watch tutorials on YouTube when I have questions. When I don’t know how to do something, I simply go to YouTube and there is bound to be a tutorial video for how to use Vegas and do the particular thing I’m trying to do.

iMovie: If you have a Mac, iMovie is a great place to start because you already have it on your computer. Everyone talks about how easy it is to use, but I don’t really think that’s the case. There is still a learing curve. Something becomes easy once you know how to do it. Overall though, this program offers a lot of bang and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the effects as well as the titles.

YouTube Video Editing: You can try out a free service by YouTube to make very basic edits. I honestly haven’t used this because my tools are working well for me, but I wanted to mention it as an option.

Sampling of some of my videos: By the way, here are a few of my videos in case you wanted to check them out: Which house is overbuilt for the neighborhood?, Tour of a dark boarded-up REO, A major hoarder house in SacramentoMajor Rehab of a $5,000 fixer in Sacramento, 2011 NorCal Real Estate Expo and Be careful of those property tax mailers.

If you have any questions, let me know. I hope this was helpful. If you have any other tips too, speak on.

If you have any real estate appraisal, consulting, or property tax appeal needs in the Greater Sacramento Region, contact me at 916.595.3735, by email, on our company website or via Facebook.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Great article. I use video in my Real Estate business three different applications. 1) Home videos (sellers LOVE them, and they’re a definite plus when talking to a potential listing.) 2) Video Blog and 3) Testimonials.

    All of your advice is spot on, but the Mac come pre-loaded with iMovie, not Final Cut. Final Cut is a fantastic program, but the express version runs you about $100. Full blown, up to $1000.

    I use iMovie and a “Flip” style camera for all of my videos, and it works great. The more you work with it, the easier it gets. After a while you’ll get better at framing your shots, editing, etc. Don’t expect a masterpiece. You’ll do fine.

    • says

      Troy, thanks for stopping by. Great catch on my useage of Final Cut instead of iMovie. I changed the post. I have a Mac, but I really don’t use it much. I use Sony Vegas for most of my videos, but I play around with iMovie a bit. Keep up the great work. Great advice and tips too.

  2. says

    Your videos are spectacular Ryan. iMovie is not as easy now, for me personally, though they have added some fantastic tools for fine tuning and improving the video and audio. Though some of the toys and techniques iMovie has added are phenomenal and so much fun to play with … I’m slowly improving. If you have an iPhone, there’s a sweet cheap mini tripod that we have enjoyed using that you can buy for 6-8 bucks on eBay. A nice little investment, if anything it’s worth the money just for the tripod mount. It’s not expensive to make these things happen, but it does take some time getting use to the software and also getting comfortable on cam. Best things you can do: use green screen when appropriate and not distracting, good camera frame cropping, decent audio and don’t steal content verbatim. It’s impossible to not be cross-referencing similar ideas, but I have seen people flat out steal the same words and usage. Not cool and if you are sharing videos, always link back, ask permission or source the info. It’s just good social media love. Learn from Ryan all, he’s the best.

    • says

      Thanks Heather. You are too kind. I echo what you’re saying about iMovie. My cousin says the same thing that the older version was more user-friendly than the new one.

      I use an Android and I’m not aware of any tripod (yet), but I’ll be searching the market. There is a video editing app on my phone that can edit out portions of a video. It’s nice, but I do wish there were some transition effects and also titles (okay, maybe I’m asking too much). I’d actually pay for an app like that though.

      Good video tips and great thoughts on stealing too. It’s a shame when that happens. I agree with you about posting videos too. If you post something, tell others where you got it. It’s a good vibe to send a link back to the content creator.

  3. says

    Ryan, do you use a cheap directional mic, of any sort, on your Flip on walking tours? I think that’s my major weakness currently when on larger or vacant homes with tile flooring. The audio drops off and to me, becomes distracting a bit.

    • says

      You know, I don’t, but I need to. Most of my videos are done in front of a green screen or confined space, so it’s less of an issue. When a house is vacant, there is definitely a difference in sound quality though. You’re right about that. There are some plugins I need to explore further in my editing software that can deal with some of the canny sound, but it would probably be best to get a mic. If you buy something, let me know. Maybe Meghan has something too.

      • says

        Sorry for double posting 🙂

        The ability to use an external mic is the reason I originally purchased a Kodak Zi8. It was (at the time) the only Flip style cam that had an external mic jack. If I were going to buy another small cam, I would insist it had a mic jack. The sound is remarkably better. I use a shotgun mic when standing still, and a wireless mic when moving through a shot.

  4. says

    Ryan – love watching your videos! You’ve inspired us to make more.

    I use Adobe Premiere Pro, part of the CS5 Master Suite. It is not easy to learn, but it’s crazy powerful.

    We use three different cameras:

    A Sony HDR-CX110 High Definition Handycam Camcorder for when Orlando wants to make the video by himself (because the screen can be flipped around so he can see himself as he records).

    A flip video – used the least although it’s a great little video camera. I dropped it so the lens is cracked. 🙁

    A Canon 5D Mark II – the quality is outstanding but it is very tricky to learn how to maintain focus, especially in low light. This camera has become wildly popular with film makers and has been used to shoot TV shows. Don’t go this way until you’re prepared to shell out the big bucks. I bought it for photography so the video aspect was a bonus.

    I agree that you do NOT need a professional camera to make great videos. You need patience and persistence and a willingness to look foolish until you get your game going.

    Also, avoid all of the flashy transitions in the videos – twirling photos, etc. The classic cross fade looks most professional.

    Oh – we bought a microphone boom on Amazon.com for under $90 for when we shoot in our home “studio” (my craft room, re-purposed!). It hangs the mike right out of camera view but with a decent mike (purchased separately) you’ll capture better sound.

    • says

      Alison, these are fantastic tips. Thank you for the detail. It’s fun to hear what you use for your videos. I emphatically agree about the flashy transitions, but I do like a page turning transition and circle in (iris) transition. Those look okay in my book for what I am doing.

      Keep up the great work, Alison. By the way, the link on your name is really good. Great tips for real estate photography.

  5. says

    You do such a good job with social media yourself and you provide an excellent service for our industry. You can help with the REBarCamp this summer!

    Great post,terrific info.

    Thank you!

    Tamara

    • says

      Thanks so much, Tamara. That means a lot. You are doing a really good job yourself and constantly getting your message out there whether by FB, video, Twitter or of course your radio show. Keep up the great work. I’d really love to help with the REBarCamp so long as I’m available.

  6. says

    Excellent points to keep it simple. Video, not a slide show with 30 frames per second or higher, with audio that is 40% of the video is powerful. Showing the flavor of the local area with community events from the local perspective transports a real estate buyer. To your home town and to get them to take your zip code serious as a place to invest, retire, relocate to. And then bring in the real estate videos for selection on his time frame for an open house. No matter what his zip code. Less agent, more property and local events the key!

    • says

      Thanks, Andrew. I think you hit on an important point. I think if agents are going to talk about local stuff, it has to be done with a sense of authenticity to truly be a resource. I’ve seen agents try to create a website for an HOA in a neighborhood or an events site too, but if there is any smell of an agenda for business, it just doesn’t work in my opinion.

  7. Troy Roark says

    Another thing re: community footage. In my experience, it’s best to keep the information as “evergreen” as possible. Try not to date it if possible. Video has a much longer life and reach if the content remains viable.

  8. Sandy says

    One success I have had is using http://www.invecheck.com, they let you create a floorplan for you listing and than create a 3D walkthrough video of it. It is all done within a browser and it is free, so cant complain.

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