At RabbitView one of our main niches has been Real Estate videos – in particular Video Open Houses. Video and Real Estate seem to be a natural fit. As opposed to simply highlighting a property, Realtors can incorporate themselves into a video or create a specific feel and energy. One of our clients, Chris Zaharko, was one of the first Realtors to employ this strategy in his Video Open Houses. As he contends, the main benefit of doing so is that he can highlight what truly makes a property unique. He also feels that when he incorporates himself in the video, potential buyers get to see the sort of person he is. Chris is a Realtor with over 2 decades of experience and he feels that this comes through when he is taking someone through a home. Any chance you can connect with a buyer or seller is an opportunity and Chris feels that his videos provide him with additional opportunities.
Obviously as video producers, we are keen to forge alliances with clients who want to use us on an on-going basis – because Realtors are always getting new listings, they make an ideal client for us. We hope from the Realtor’s perspective, they can use us as a tool in their listing presentations to perspective new clients. Video is a tangible added service they are providing their client, and something that can differentiate them from their peers. From a pragmatic perspective, the videos are a way to weed out the nosy neighbors who merely want to see what the home is like and more importantly help identify the more ardent serious buyers who are interested in seeing the home first hand after having watched the video. Many Realtors also say that homeowners appreciate having a memento of their home.
Many Realtors farm a certain area of town, meaning they tend to sell in predominantly one area. In Chris’s case, he sells mainly in South West Calgary. When people are searching through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) they too tend to search in a particular area that they want to buy. If they are looking to buy a home in the the South West, chances are they will see one of Chris’s Video Open Houses. Even if a particular property is not of interest to them, they will definitely associate Chris with this area of town. The more they search through MLS, the more of Chris’s videos they will see and the stronger this association between Chris and the South West area will become.
When my wife and I were looking to buy a home in 2004, we were feverishly searching through MLS daily. One day my wife sent me a link with a video. It was a house that was out of our price range but I could see why it appealed to her. It was a beautiful character home – I watched the video accompanied by tranquil music. The trees swayed back and forth and a cute cat was perched in the window. The video made the home all the more appealing. My wife came home from work and told me “I want it.” I proceeded to roll my eyes and told her that she was merely hooked by the video with the cute cat. She stared back at me and repeated, “I want it.”
We never did purchase that home – as I mentioned, it was definitely out of our price range but the experience did provide me with one of those light-bulb moments. I spent the entire night trying to find other listings on MLS that similarly had video and none of them did. That was the initial impetus to start videos for Real Estate. It is a great way to view a home and having moving images along with music definitely helps create an emotion for the viewer.
Over time, our videos have evolved. We try to balance providing a comprehensive tour and adding a simple professional style – we want it to be a practical tool so we avoid overly stylized shots that do not provide the view a true sense of what a home is actually like. We believe incorporating the Realtor benefits the Realtor, home-seller and home-buyer. The Realtor is able to let people know what he or she is like, the home seller gets a video that will capture people’s attention almost as if to say that their home is video worthy, and the home-buyer is made aware of some of the home’s unique features and gets a true sense of what a home is like. When people ask if we make “virtual tours” I tell them “no” – a video does not lie, it is not some sort of simulation but rather an actual visual record of what a home looks like.
Since 2004, RabbitView has made Video Open Houses for thousands of homes but quite honestly I think we are still only scratching the surface. Most Realtors do not get videos of their listings and most home-owners are not aware they can have this service. Home-owners and buyers do demand photos (RabbitView provides complementary high-resolution photos with all of our Video Open Houses) and perhaps it is only a matter of time before they demand videos. When describing the importance of video in the on-line marketing of a home, I commonly say that Shakespeare could write the description of your home but if people can not see it then they will just move on to the next listing. We contend that a video is definitely the best way to see any home.