Using Video to Sell Homes


Video may have killed the radio star, but it’s having a tough time doing anything to the virtual tour. Videos show movement, sound and can express dimension much better than still, or even panoramic photography. So why don’t more Realtors use video to sell property?

Videos can be very tastefully done when produced well, but here are the challenges I see to videos becoming mainstream;

They’re more expensive. The video equipment (camera, tripod, lighting equipment) is expensive and it can be much more expensive to have a professional movie created. Many agents and homeowners don’t want to spend any more money than they already are.

They can be very time consuming. It takes a while to plan the video, set up, shoot the video, edit it and post it online.

Embedding the video in their current website framework is difficult at best and impossible for most. Most agents use template sites that don’t allow video, and custom sites need to be re-coded specifically to allow for video.

Lack of creativity. Photos tell the story simply by existing, but video means you need to be a bit more interesting. Do you use music or sound? Do you speak while you show the property? Do you have a voice-over? Do you walk-through or do you spin around in each room, and how fast do you move? There’s more thought that goes into video, and that can be intimidating.

But the main reason that I haven’t used video to sell homes is that it is very difficult to produce a high-quality video and it’s important to me and my clients that we represent their properties in the very best way. The videos I have seen are almost always shaky and the lighting is not good. Sometimes it is difficult to pay attention to the home because I’m so focused on the video’s quality or what the person is saying, or the music they selected.

And with video you are stuck for that amount of time watching, where with photos and panoramic shots if the home doesn’t look good- I can see that and move on in seconds without needing to sit through a five-minute presentation waiting to see if the master bedroom is big enough.

Videos may be the newest gadget in selling homes, but it until a low-cost/high quality service becomes available (like with virtual tours) it may be tough for them to gain traction in the home selling process.


16 thoughts on “Using Video to Sell Homes

  1. That was painful, and a great example as to why still shots / VT’s are better than video. I hope the book was better than the movie. Did anyone tell the seller how to stage that home?

  2. I disagree with the essence of this post. Video is not hard to do – many just feel that way because they have not personally done it. A good camera can be had for around $500 and simple editing software is not too pricy either. Uploading video to YouTube is easy and embedding a YouTube video into your website is a simple cut and paste job. I can say all of these things because I have personally done them, and trust me, it’s not as hard as you might make it out to be. At the end of the day, photos have their place. But I also think that video can add to them too. I am currently looking to purchase a home and would love it if I had access to video for the homes I am looking at. I truly believe if a realtor today would learn to integrate video into their home marketing plans, they would have more success than similar realtors who chose to not do so.

  3. WOW – I love watching video tours. I always do videos over 360s or panoramic shots – just my opinion that they give the buyer more of a feeling for the home. They aren’t all bad, but seems most of the decent ones are from a company, instead of the realtor taking the time. Maybe they don’t have time. It takes me about 1 hour for the shoot, and 2 – 3 hours for editing. I also upload the videos to about 35 sites. That’s usually the most time consuming part. I think we’ll start seeing more and more videos, but the majority will either be like the 2 featured in this post, or produced by a company as their prices go down due to increased demand.

    Here’s a shameless plug for my last video if you don’t mind. Had a few obvious lighting issues. I’m shooting with a Sony Handycam, $100 tripod, and editing on a Mac using Final Cut Express.

  4. Shaun- your video looks good- especially seeing the trees blowing in the wind. But how much would you actually lose if you had panoramic shots instead of video, because that’s mostly what your video was- a collection of panoramic shots put to nice music. The video is better than panoramics, but is it enough better that it convinces the masses to go through the extra time and money?


    I think video is definately better than photos, but I don’t think it’s enough better that it will catch on in a big way until some photography companies (perhaps the same companies that produce virtual tours) begin to offer professionally done videos for a reasonable price. Once that happens more agents will use them, including me.

    Also our MLS doesn’t support video, so all the websites that get their feeds from the MLS (Which is almost every one of them) would not be able to show the video, and only photos. It would be great if every home had a floor plan and professional quality videos and a full appraisal and home inspection done before going on the market also, but that doesn’t mean it will happen.

    Going from no inside photos to having a virtual tour was huge- it made a significant difference. But is going from photos and panoramic photos to essentially the same thing with music as significant that it will cause the market to demand it? We’ll see.

  5. I’m with Greg on this one. Great photos and a virtual tour is a huge leap up from a Crappy MLS Sheet, but Video isn’t that much of a jump from a good virtual tour.

    The big plus is that time spent editing photos actually improves the photo. 99% of video editing is just trying to make the video look like grown ups had a hand in making it. The better virtual tours pan and zoom etc, so given a perfect wide angled lens shot, your can just pan across it for the same or better effect than a video camera panning.

    All it takes is the slightest camera jiggle and I can’t even look at video for more than a minute. I just get nausea.

    In any case you’re going to need to do photos anyway even if you do video. You have to have them for the MLS, mailers, print outs etc.


  6. Greg, i agree. The video is all live video footage, but the results are nothing more that panning and zooming panoramic shots – never really thought about it that way. The one thing I hear from the video I posted is a reaction to seeing people jet skiing/tubing in the lake. I was very lucky to catch the shot, and for whatever reason it grabs people’s attention (a few, not everyone).
    I worked for a builder for about 4 years, and for the most part, people view a model home the same. They walk in, scan left and right, and tend to head to the kitchen. Then they walk to the master, master bathroom, check the closet, etc. 90% of the people viewing the homes I worked in, followed the exact same path.
    My “ideal” virtual tour would cover this same path, almost like a walking tour. No panning and zoom over a still shot, but actually walking through each room and focusing on what people want to see. Problem is, doing this without the proper equipment leads to the videos you see above – and who wants to watch that? I’ve been searching for a solution to this. THAT would make a huge separation between good pics, and a good video.

  7. I’ve tried the video route a couple of times for different things. I’ve decided to concentrate my efforts for the time being on creating slide shows in video format until I get a better grip on the whole process.
    What I dislike about many of the home tour videos I see are: the jerking camera, the vertigo panning, the heels clicking on hardwood floors, the uhs and ahs, – the list goes on.

  8. Hi Greg –
    I generally agree with you that videos take more time and effort to produce, and offer only marginal improvement over virtual tours. The “videos” that I really hate are the collages of still photos that zoom in and out with generic music playing!

    One of the nice things that can be done with virtual tours is to add floor plans with “hot spots” and be able to click directly to the part that you want to see. Even without the floorplans, being able to click through the less interesting shots is still better that having to wait for the film to get there.

    I have recently been looking in to using video, but more as a supplement than a replacement for a virtual tour. Filming the local community : shopping areas, parks, libraries, schools and other points of interest with real people moving around would add a lot more interest.

  9. Vicki-

    That’s a good point. Using videos to show areas and neighborhoods is a really cool idea. That’s something that you could put a lot of time and effort into because it would be used over and over for a long period of time and video would definately have soem huge advantages over photos for that reason.

  10. I originally saw this argument on Inman…so I will post my response from there.

    Working as a video professional with a focus on luxury properties, I find this argument fascinating. Fascinating, because there really should be no argument. High resolution stills should be an integral part of any real estate marketing, and luxury exclusives are certainly no exception.

    We work with a variety of agents and brokers. On both our blog and our website we encourage the use of a professional photographer. Photos are vital for eye catching print advertising, and also provide a brief property overview on the web listing page.

    Video, conversely, is useful in telling the story behind a unique property. If done tastefully and professionally it can be a fantastic tool for a listing agent.

    While the battle of Stills vs. Video may rage on for some, I would counter that the two should go hand in hand to effectively market a property.

  11. Eric,

    Your tours are probably the best I’ve seen- very nice. Still, the reality is that most people cannot produce this quality of video, either because they don’t have the equipment, time or expertise. If services like yours were around, and for a reasonable price, I think more agents and homeowners would use video. Until then I don’t see it being used for home listings. For areas and agent profiles it is still a great tool because those can viewed many times over long periods of time.

  12. I’m with you on this one, Greg.

    I was the first agent in town using streaming video five years ago – and I was just too far ahead of my time.

    I had the equipment – I spent 20 grand acquiring it – yet it still didn’t deliver all that I wanted in return for the “hassle factor”.

    Although I got rid of all the high-end video gear, I still have an inexpensive dv cam that I intend to use for clips on the blog that might breathe some life into the surrounding areas such as businesses, neighbors and amenities. For the house, still images are easier to get “right”.

    As far as cost goes, many agents won’t invest in a digital camera to take pictures of their own listings… so paying someone to do video would have to be pretty cheap. 😆

  13. There are some virtual tour companies that are starting to offer video, but the cost needs to be where a large number of agents will use the service and want it, or the MLS’s and websites fed from the MLS’s will not build technology to support the video, keeping it obsolete, as it currently is.

  14. I am getting into this discussion way late, having just found this post. There are some definite gems of insight in this post/comments. To me the comparison of video to virtual tours is not even a factor: video blows virtual tours away. Jumping to the different scenes within a video, and finding people to produce videos affordably is taken care of.

    I agree with quite a bit of the ideas in this post: video is not as consistant in presentation (production value varies widely). I also think that it is harder to create a good video. But, if someone is a good sales person, and their MLS lets them present in front of a camera (without identifying/branding themselves), you have yourself a powerful medium that cannot even be compared to a virtual tour. If video doesn’t sell, then why does TV take the lionshare of the yearly ad spend? Why do networks like QVC, or HSN exist? Because salemanship is HUGE! Video is a unique perspective. The lighting might be off, the back round music might be cheesey, the cameraman might jitter a bit, but the viewer gets a unique perspective from someone in the know about that property. Nothing better.

    The debate is healthy, and I appreciate reading what the thoughts are behind the medium that my company focuses on. But, we are all industry people discussing which is better. The home owners will ultimately decide what medium will win, and I believe they will make the right choice. Thanks very much to all for the thoughts!

  15. Greg and crew…

    In light of this post and other recent conversations about video-vs-virtual, WellcomeMat has decided to address common objections to video with our blog series: “Top Four Popular Objections to Video”. We hope to encourage more in-depth conversation about real estate video. We invite you and everyone else to join the conversation! Thanks and let’s keep tis discussion going. It certainly deserves more attention.

    Objection To Real Estate Video #2: Virtual Tours Are Easier Than Video and Just as Good:

  16. I agree with Jeff. It is not expensive and you at the property listing it, taking stills, while not a walk thru with video clips you easily edit together. Heck your digital camera has video capabilities…just lacks the zoom but you can adjust, shoot and a tripod/lights not a big investment. Plus adding community video to it and stand alone, makes the experience your offer greater. They hear your voice, see you, see the place, hear the birds in the back yard, and simple hyper link to the movie code so you don’t even have to embed/store it. Video delays are stupid if you are serious about providing more information!

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