A Different Sort of Home Video

The purpose of real estate video is to give prospective buyers a virtual tour of a property. House shoppers can compare a variety of homes in just a few minutes, helping them narrow their search for the perfect home. If they like what they see, a visit can be arranged. If they don’t like a home, there is no point in taking the time to go see it in person.

Real estate video is an excellent tool for realtors. A single realtor can show as many as 25 homes a week. Making videos for a single agent or a single real estate office can keep an enterprising videographer quite busy (see side bar Real Estate Video in 10 Minutes or Less). The good news is that you don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to make effective real estate video. In some cases, all you need is your camcorder and a plan. In addition, real estate videos should not be very long. The shopper doesn’t need to see the condition of every tile on the roof. The goal is to take the potential home owner on a two-minute tour of a house.



What to Shoot

You’ve most likely been a consumer of real property at some point in your life; you’ve either rented or purchased a place to live at one time or another. What to shoot, then, lies in the sort of things that interested you throughout your own experience. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes, and show the home in a way that showcases only its most outstanding features.

Certainly the attractiveness of a piece of property is a big factor. Buyer’s want to know if the home is nice to look at. Does it have a garage? A large porch? Does it sit on a slope or is it level? How many trees are on the property and where are they located?

Next up are the amenities: a spacious yard, an attractive den, master bedroom, hot tub, walk-in closets, a roomy kitchen or a three-car garage.

Finally, there is the physical location. Why might the location of the property appeal to a prospective buyer? Is it close to an expressway, shopping center or a school? What is the neighborhood like? Are the houses close together or is there space between them?

Buyers look for all of these things in a piece of real estate. As such, you’ll want your video to answer these key questions. Some questions can be answered with pictures, others can be summarized with a graphic. A bulleted list of statistics including a home’s address, square footage, amenities, locale and price is a great way to begin and end your tour.



Looks Nice on the Outside

You can begin by shooting the property in its entirety – a wide, establishing shot. Set your camcorder up across the street from the home to get a nice wide shot. The establishing shot provides your viewer with a first impression and lets him see the lay of the land. To make the shot as flattering as possible, shoot on a nice, sunny day. You don’t want it to appear that you are shooting the Bates Motel. Film noir is not really appropriate for real estate video.

Remember, too, that real estate is by its very nature three dimensional. That means that you will have to relate that dimensionality in your video. Homes typically have four sides, for example. Be sure that when you shoot the exterior you show all four sides of the home. When you shoot your establishing shot, shoot from an angle, to include two sides of the home rather than a flat, straight-on shot. Backyards are especially important, because they can rarely be seen from the street, yet they are almost like a room within the house; a family may want to spend a lot of their time in the backyard.

If the home has special exterior features, such as a deck or a patio, or has solar panels for power, be sure to include them as well. You might choose to focus on them in detail a little later, but by showing them up front you can pique your viewer’s interest.



Around the House

Next, we’ll move inside and focus on amenities. Again, give your viewers what they want. Show them the living room, kitchen and den. Take them through each bedroom and bathroom. Don’t forget the garage.

Use wide shots, close-ups and camera moves to create a sense of space for your viewer. A slow pan of each room will establish the big picture, allowing the viewer to get a sense of the size and shape of a room. If you are good with graphics, you might create a graphical floor plan that identifies the location of each room on each floor.

It’s important to include certain elements in your shots for perspective. For many home shoppers it’s not enough to know that the home has a den. The question is, "Is it a BIG den?" Arrange your shots to provide a sense of scale. Furniture does a good job of providing a spatial reference in a shot. Viewers understand the size of a sofa or a recliner. A room with two sofas and a couple of easy chairs lets the viewer know that the room is plenty large. If the home is vacant and has no furniture, include a person in the shot for perspective. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask the real estate agent to walk across a bare bedroom and open a window. In so doing, your client is providing a sense of scale for the room that might otherwise not exist.

Even when shooting a furnished home, adding a human element can make your video more appealing to the viewer. Consider recruiting some friends as actors so you can show a family walking up to the front door and entering. Show mom reading by the picture window in the living room, dad reclining in the den with the remote control and the kids playing on the deck out back. People love to see people in videos because it adds activity to an otherwise static shot. Homes are where people live, after all.

Some amenities are worth spending additional time on. Things like fireplaces and hardwood floors are things that demand additional attention, and should be highlighted whenever possible. You can, for example, shoot a nice wide shot of a dining room, then a close-up of the leaded glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling. You can walk through the sliding glass doors in the kitchen out onto the furnished patio. In this way, you appear to be "looking around" at the really cool stuff, just as someone would if they were walking through the house themselves.



Location, Location, Location

Finally, there are the property’s surroundings. Perhaps the street is wooded with mature maples. Maybe a stream runs behind the property. It may be that there is an exhilarating view from the second floor. Each of these things should be shown to the viewer. Location is extremely important to most consumers; you wouldn’t find many people interested in a modest split-level located in the corner of a grocery store parking lot. Use your camcorder to chat up the positives about the property’s locale by shooting wide shots of the area.

More difficult to show the viewer are things like access to schools, airports, expressways and shopping districts. Also, is the house on or near a busy street? You can do it, though, by simply driving through the neighborhood and shooting examples of each of these things and editing them into your video. By including these things, your viewer will get a sense that they know the neighborhood, regardless of whether they’ve traveled it personally. It expands their horizon beyond the plot they are thinking of buying and makes them feel vicariously like part of the community. If you cannot get the shots necessary, a graphic describing the neighborhood and listing points of interest will work quite well.



Get Real!

Real estate video is a great way to make your video hobby pay off in real dollars. Real estate lends itself well to the camera, as most people buy homes based on their appearance and the way that appearance makes them feel. If you’ve ever bought or rented a property, you already have the knowledge you need to effectively present a property to a viewer through the medium of video.

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