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Best Practices for Video Tours

May 28 2020

tablet smilingWith millions of people working remotely during these uncertain times, the real estate industry is rapidly adapting digitally to connect agents with consumers. One marketing tool that has become vital for agents now more than ever are video home tours.

According to a study by Realtor.com, listings that come with a video tour gain 87% more views than listings without video tours. Even before the pandemic, research from the National Association of Realtors said that half of all home buyers find video tours influential in deciding on a home.

Today, with nearly all home shoppers starting their search online, here are some of the best practices to make your best first impression.

Create a video plan

Professional videographers create a video treatment and a storyboard. These documents help to map out precisely what they will shoot and how they will shoot it. You don't need to be that elaborate. You should create a video outline document that lists the order of your shots and what you are going to say to develop your script for both on and off-camera. Also include what time of day is best to shoot inside and outside shots, and what you will focus on: the most marketable features of your listing. Think of your audience first as you develop your plan.

Video script

Even though authenticity works better in a video than a stilted script or narration, you need to know what you are going to say and the keywords you want to emphasize. Every home has a story, and doing a video tour as if you are telling a story will help you to write down what you want to say. Remember: with the average attention span being just eight seconds, shorter is better. Research shows YouTube video views decrease sharply once a minute has passed – with average engagement dropping 70% when they exceed two minutes.

Video recording

If you have a newer smartphone, you have the right video camera to do the job. Today's top smartphone can shoot the highest quality videos and have pretty good built-in recording capabilities.

Proper lighting

Most videos fail when poor lighting is present. It gives your video a grainy look. Crystal-clear high-resolution video recording typically requires bright light. Avoid standing in front of any area that provides backlighting: windows or lamps behind you will make you appear like a dark shadow. A detachable selfie light can help overcome backlighting issues if backlighting is unavoidable.

Great audio is vital

Believe it or not, the sound is more important than video image quality. When you have both – great audio and excellent video image quality – your video has a far greater chance of engagement. People will tolerate a video that is less than perfect, but if the audio is difficult to understand – too soft, too much echo, feedback or background noise – the people you are trying to reach will click away.

Deliver perspective

One of the biggest mistakes in video tours of a home is shooting too much up close. What home shoppers want is perspective: where does the house sit on the lot, not just a closeup of the front door or framing just the house in your shot. They want to see more of the yard and wide shots of the yard or yards. The same applies inside – wider shots give more perspective of the home's floor plan. It's one of the reasons why interactive 3D digital tours from firms like Matterport, while admittedly more expensive, are popular with consumers, as they offer an exceptional perspective throughout the home.

Bonus tip – add captions to your video

Did you know that when you upload your video to YouTube, you can select automatic captions? YouTube's built-in AI capabilities will write captions for you. But it's recommended you go into the settings and fix any mistakes, as its accuracy varies. Video captions are great because it expands your reach to a vast population that includes those with impaired hearing. Video captions also help your audience watch a video during those times when they don't disturb others.

Creating the perfect video tour to showcase a home can be a challenge, but with the right tools and tips, you can connect digitally with potential buyers who are interested in your listings. By following through with these best practices, you'll also be able to expand your video's reach and engagement with your target audience.

If you have any challenges or inquiries technology as you create your video tour – and your MLS, association or brokerage offers Tech Helpline – reach out with an email, go online for chat, or call in for tech support!

Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.