There is ample evidence of the importance of video for real estate. For example, more than 50% of buyers find their property online, the majority of agents believe social media presence is more important than website listings and agents who utilise video for real estate are preferred by the majority of both sellers and buyers.
Of course, the quality and effectiveness of the real estate video depend on the skill and experience of the video production company. In this blog, we’re going to look at what makes a good video for real estate and real estate video production techniques, including:
- Determining the target audience and the purpose of the video;
- What elements to include;
- Helping the vendor help you;
- Tips and tricks for increasing the production value;
- How to achieve the most effective result within the budget.
Determining the target audience and the purpose of the video
Video can be a powerful tool for real estate agents to attract and educate both existing and prospective vendors and buyers. At the end of the day, the agent is your client. They dictate their expectations in relation to the target audience and importantly the budget, which influences the production value of the video. Their brief and cooperation with you and their communication with the vendor, their client, is integral to the success of the video. It is important that the scope of the production for the agreed budget is clarified before commencing, including what will be provided by them or the vendor, e.g. images and property preparation and what will be shot and included in the video. Where on-screen text is being used, a storyboard can be prepared and music is chosen to avoid post-production delays.
As a video production service provider, you can remind the agent client of the many types of videos they can use in their marketing arsenal and thereby broaden the work you provide to them, beyond just property showcase videos. Market updates let people know what is happening in their area. Whilst many will not be looking to sell or buy at the moment, they may find them interesting and put the agent top of their minds when they are. A short video on how to prepare a property for sale or inspection will be appreciated by anyone contemplating selling their property. Property investors are a different audience to owner occupiers and may appreciate different information, such as ATO rules and changes and the general rental and market trends. It all comes down to the fact that people don’t like to be sold, but they like being educated.
What elements to include
When it comes to showcasing a property for sale, there is only one rule; make it and the surrounding area appear as attractive as possible. There are four main elements in real estate video production. They are visual assets, on-screen information, music and brand reinforcement.
Visual assets may include still images, video and aerial footage of the property and surrounding area and infrastructure. Existing professionally-shot and edited still images provided by the agent or vendor can enhance production and reduce costs, but they need to be in line with the overall production value. Stock video can be used, e.g. of the local area, but it needs to be relevant to the property and not mislead viewers.
The right music is integral to the effectiveness of a video for real estate. It should enhance the viewing experience and be consistent with the general look and feel of the property and be appropriate for prospective buyers. It should be royalty-free/ copyright cleared to avoid being taken off viewing platforms.
On-screen text, commonly known as supers, is an effective way of letting the viewer know important information about the property and what they are currently seeing. It can also invite the viewer to imagine living in the property, enjoying its benefits and attributes and highlighting the favourable location. A text bar at the bottom of the screen can be used to increase legibility and effects can be used to bring the text on and off the screen. The agent’s logo is often present as a watermark on real estate videos.
A voiceover is sometimes used in real estate video production, for instance where a lot of information needs to be imparted. Studies have shown that seeing on-screen text and also hearing the message improves retention. In general, the majority of real estate videos don’t have a voiceover, letting the vision, super and music tell the story.
Helping the vendor help you
A pre-shoot visit or email with a checklist can let the vendor know what they can do to show their property in the best light. In general, the whole place should be clean and tidy and as uncluttered as possible, including windows and mirrors. Any damaged or stained walls should ideally be repaired. If currently inhabited, either by the vendor or tenants, this could entail engaging professional cleaners and temporarily moving furniture. The yard, where applicable, should have the grass cut, vegetation trimmed, paths edged and swept and be free of clutter. Stress to the vendor that you won’t have time for any of the above to be done during the allocated time for the shoot.
Tips and tricks for increasing the production value
Every picture tells a story but a well-shot video speaks volumes when it comes to portraying the property in the best light. In general, the goal is to make it look as big, attractive and functional as possible. The main tool for big is a wide-angle lens with minimal distortion. Tilt-shift lenses can keep close and distant parts of the property in focus. Detail shots can benefit from bokeh or depth of field to highlight the desired object whilst blurring the background.
Camera movement is what sets video apart from stills. A common technique for showcasing rooms is to start in one corner with a camera on a gimbal and move gently forward. Also, a video walkthrough can say volumes about the layout of the building and immerse the viewer in a realistic experience of the building. An effective shooting trick in a two-story building is to film from the roof to the floor of the top story then do the same on the ground floor and dissolve between them in post. This gives the illusion that the camera has passed through the floor and highlights what is below the top floor room.
Good lighting can be hard to achieve in real estate video production. Ambient light can both enhance the look and also create problems, particularly direct sun entering the room, which should be avoided e.g. by shooting that room at a different time of day or by drawing blinds. Where both the room and the view on a sunny day are to be included in the same shot, strong lighting may need to be added internally to balance between the two, which can be a real challenge. The house lights can help or detract, e.g. when ‘warm’ bulbs or fluoro lights are mixed with ‘cool’ daylight temperature ambient light. Many property shoots take advantage of ‘magic hour’ late afternoon light to achieve a desirable look. Where lighting is introduced, it should be diffused with soft boxes or by bouncing light to avoid hot spots and achieve an even look.
How to achieve the most effective result within the budget
The agent’s brief and the agreed scope and budget are the foundation of the real estate video production process. How the vendor has prepared the property is one of the main variables for its success and the agent can help with making sure the vendor understands the importance of preparing to have the property fully prepared for the designated shoot start time.
Sometimes a photographer has already been and shot the property and the vendor may not want to go through the process of preparing the property again. This may result in the stills playing a bigger part in the video. The vendor may complain about having to prepare the property twice for stills and video shoots on different days. This may necessitate you and a photographer arranging to shoot on the same day. You may be engaged to do both stills and videos. Vendors can sometimes believe that video can be ‘photoshopped’ to remove unwanted aspects, so it is worth clarifying that what is shot on the day is what prospective buyers will see.
Having the right equipment and experience and being prepared are integral to achieving a good result. However, if you arrive and the property is not right, it may be better to contact the agent to postpone, rather than shoot something that is never going to shine. If the agent or vendor what to proceed, then the result will be sub-optimal.
Equipment, experience and feedback are valuable for maintaining high production values in real estate video production. Every house is different and showcasing them in their best light is a specialised art. Looking at what your competitors are doing and changing techniques with changing tastes is and ongoing process to achieve success in this rewarding industry.