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Attracting Buyers Through Online Video

by Chicago Agent

By Benjamin Wayne

It’s no secret that video helps sell real estate. Virtual tours and video walkthroughs have long been an effective, though expensive, tool for real estate professionals. However, production costs, turnaround times and logistic complexity have historically meant very few listings benefit from the selling power of video. And, while many real estate professionals now host their own sites or microsites with showcase properties, video is rarely a component.

Despite these facts, the power of video as a sales tool is undeniable. According to Todd Breen, president of a RE/MAX Property Management Affiliate in Boca Raton, Fla., “As a marketing tool, video is very powerful. It has proven useful to us in getting more qualified showings as [prospective buyers] already know they’re interested in the property. Homeowners wanted their agents to provide this marketing technique to promote their properties, and the agents who offered it were often preferred over the agents who didn’t. It’s proven to be a powerful listing tool for our company.” Breen reports that listings with video are viewed four times as often as listings with only text and photos.

Today, cost-effective, plug-and-play solutions are making it possible to shoot, host and stream videos, at price points that allow sites of all sizes to cost-effectively harness the power of virtual experiences. Consumer sites offer a free, low-quality solution, while other vendors offer high-quality branded solutions as well as search engine submission and other value-added options.

Regardless of the option an agent chooses, there are a few basic steps that make it easy for any site to offer video tours, testimonials and agent profiles.

Shooting video
Almost every digital camera today has an option that allows the user to shoot short videos. Remember to keep the camera steady, shoot in locations with lots of available light and to move slowly when panning from side to side. Avoid zooming, and instead make sure to fill the frame with the image that most effectively conveys the experience of the property.

Sometimes its easier to have a professional shoot the video for you. For example, Rob Sepulveda of RES Video Listings has been shooting real estate videos for Chicagoland Realtors at prices they can afford.

Choosing a video hosting solution
There are a number of video hosting solutions available today. YouTube and other consumer sites allow you to create an account for free. While this can be a good option, keep in mind they will place their watermark on the player and display a playlist at the end of each video that will take the viewer away from your site.

Additionally, the quality of free players is somewhat poor, and they will not submit your video to search engines, which helps potential buyers find your properties. Paid solutions end up costing a few dollars a day, but they are high quality, offer custom branding and provide the ability to get your videos into search engines and other listing services. Choose a solution that fits your needs and budget.

Uploading video
Uploading a video is as easy as uploading photos. Just browse to the file that you’d like to upload and select it. Once uploaded, it will take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for your video to become available. This is because the video is being encoded to a Flash format, which allows it to be streamed to any browser or computer.

Posting video on your site
Posting videos is easy and straightforward. Simply cut the “embed code,” a small snippet of HTML provided by all video hosting solutions, and paste it into the HTML of the Web page where you’d like the video to appear. This will insert a video player into the page, which will stream your video.

As with any content, make sure your video is clearly labeled and gives details about the listing, contact information and other pertinent details. Video on the home page will tend to attract a lot of attention from your site visitors, so pick your best properties to showcase. A video gallery page gives users the opportunity to browse through multiple properties at a time, and some vendors can help you with a sharing functionality that allows buyers to e-mail videos of properties to one another.

Online video tells a story that is far more compelling than words and photos alone. Given its low cost, the ease of use and widespread adoption, video is a powerful tool that is changing the way in which both buyers and agents are experiencing property. Decreasing cost and complexity, combined with widespread adoption by consumers means that this is a tool that should be in the arsenal of every real estate professional.

Benjamin Wayne is the CEO of Fliqz, which focuses on full-service, plug-and-play video solutions. Visit fliqz.com For more information, or contact Wayne at websales@fliqz.com or 888.323.5479.

COPYRIGHT 2008 AGENT PUBLISHING LL

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