To say that online video is hot right now would be the understatement of the year. To say that online video holds huge implications for real estate would be the understatement of the decade.
To understand the future importance of online video for real estate you need only look to the current importance of online photos for real estate. The most recent NAR Survey of Buyers and Sellers reported that 84% of respondents found photos of an online listing “very useful”. In the same way that maps and neighborhood information provide context for the home’s community, photos provide the visual context buyers need to understand the internal layout of a home. Of course, it was not always so. Buyers used to be happy with written descriptions of properties, but as the capabilities of the Internet have risen so to have the expectations of the buyers. It was this way for photos and it will be the same for videos.
The rise of the “virtual tour” was meant to bridge the gap between photo and video. Virtual tours provide more to the client by bringing a sense of “being there” - a client can virtually spin around inside a room to see it from all angles. However, virtual tours are relatively expensive to create and can visually distort the dimensions of a room.
Enter the realm of do-it-yourself online video. If you’ve never heard of Youtube, http://www.youtube.com
, you should first take a look at what Google paid $1.65 billion to buy late last year. This current king of online video allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to post a video to the Internet and share it with anyone else. This advertising-supported service is all free to use, so the only thing left for the user to know is how to create a video and post it online (more on this later).
For a business owner or marketer, the problem with Youtube is the sheer enormity of content; you might find a video walkthrough of a home but it is likely buried among videos of singing dogs, Japanese TV shows, and random diatribes about teenage angst. Similarly, there is no way to target searches for video home tours within, say, a certain zip code.
To address these problems a Massachusetts company has created a free video hosting service specifically geared to the real estate industry. The Zipvo website, http://www.Zipvo.com
allows agents to create a free account and upload as many videos as they want. Agents create a profile of themselves to accompany their videos, as well as attach listing data (price, location, etc) to videos so they can easily be found by searching the Zipvo website. Tools provided through the site allow agents to “embed” a video in their own website or quickly link to an existing Zipvo video.
So you’re probably thinking, “Great, I can post free videos of my properties and ditch my expensive virtual tours. But I don’t know how to make a video for the Internet.” Luckily, there are easy answers. If you’ve purchased a camcorder within the 10 years, or a digital camera within the last 5 years, chances are good that you have all the hardware you need to make a video. Practically all digital cameras sold today take video that’s high enough quality for the web. All you need then is software to edit your creation; delete unwanted scenes, add voice-over, add music, and more. If you own a PC you can use Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker to edit your video. This free program is included in Windows Service Pack 2, and great tutorials are available on Microsoft’s website at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/getstarted/default.mspx
As with any new technology, there is a bit of a learning curve. But consumers care little for the bare minimum and will always search out the most rewarding experience. Video brings yet another valuable tool to a REALTOR®’s marketing mix and, given the low cost of producing such an effective visual aid, agents who refuse to learn this emerging medium do a disservice to themselves and their clients.