July 20, 2020

What a ride it has been since mid-March.  Here we are, almost four months into COVID-19 regulations in the western world.  From lockdowns to social/physical distancing, from restaurants open for takeout only to staggered openings, we have watched many industries come to a complete standstill, and now stand by as openings have been taking place.  


In real estate, what did we learn?  For one, we learned that each state had to make decisions as to whether real estate agents are essential workers, and how to go about conducting business.  To say the least, it has been a challenging few months in the industry.  


While the market has changed over these months, one thing hasn’t:  people still, for a variety of reasons, need to buy and sell real estate.  In order to make this happen, there has to be a way to show properties, and that is what I will focus on today.  


If you know WellcomeMat, you know that we are laser-focused on video for real estate.  It is what we do and have done since 2006.  With open houses and property showing put on hold in many states, video emerged as, in some cases, the only way to give clients a feel for properties that might be a good fit.  


While we are proponents of professionally-created video, this became an impossibility basically overnight a few months ago.  So, when in a bind, what can you do to insure that not only you can create videos for the properties you need, but also to make them look as good as possible?  After all, we know that poorly-produced videos actually hurt matters more than they help.


I’ve spent a lot of time over the last three and a half months watching videos from many of WellcomeMat’s clients, and there are some things that stick out to me that can really pull the viewer in.  Knowing that, in desperate situations, professionally-produced videos might be difficult to impossible, I want to share a few things to consider if and when you must turn to user-created listing videos.  If you are unable to visit a property, the following information can also work for homeowners who need to make videos for you.


Keep It Short And Sweet

Making the assumption that user-generated content might not be edited, this can be tricky, as one-take videos tend to be longer than those that are pieced together.  However, your goal should be to keep your video around two minutes long.  This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but videos coming in at two minutes are much more likely to be viewed in their entirety than those that come in at four minutes.  


Be Yourself

It is a good idea to practice what you are going to say in the video, but you don’t want to come across as too stiff.  Taking a conversational tone and talking directly to the viewer is a great way to seem both professional and casual.  The more you can make it seem like the client/viewer is actually with you, the better.


Interior + Exterior = The Total Picture

Again, you want to keep the video as short as possible, but you also want to be thorough.  Beginning the video with some footage of the property’s exterior, and blending more exterior footage via shots taken out of windows is a great strategy, particularly from the rooms that will be used the most.  Highlight the best rooms/features of the interior of the property.  You don’t have to touch on everything, necessarily.  You are really just building interest via the video.  


Highlight The Hardware

Simple things like turning on lights and ceiling fans, running water from a nice kitchen sink, and firing up the gas stove can go a long way in giving your viewer a feel for the home.  If there is a fireplace, consider turning that on.  Also, and features in the yard, such as fountains, can add a nice touch.  Basically, anything that sets the home apart from other listings is something that you want to draw attention to during your video.


Camera Tricks

You aren’t a professional filmmaker, but you can do some simple things to help make your video as sharp as possible.  First, if you are using your phone, play around with shooting vertically and horizontally.  This is personal preference to a large degree, but try both and see what looks better.  If you have a tripod, that could help in some situations.  Beyond that, if you have a gimbal that works with your phone, this will drastically improve the stability of the footage (think no shaking and jostling).  There are several affordable options out there for phone-compatible gimbals, so this is definitely something to consider if you will be making more than just a couple of videos.


When entering a room, consider walking to the far corner of the room and then turning around slowly.  This will give your viewer a good perspective of how large the room is.  Finally, though you are trying to keep your video short, it will be easier to keep your camera stable if you are moving at a reasonably slow pace.  The last thing you want is to make your viewers dizzy as they watch your finished videos.


Practice Makes Better

Don’t go into this thinking that you will nail it in one take.  In fact, even if your first take is mistake-free, go ahead and do another take or two.  The more you practice, the better you will be.  Try not to overthink what you are doing, but do remain focused on your goal, and remember to speak clearly and calmly.  


In some areas, we are already back to sending professional videographers to properties and into homes.  If that isn’t the case in your area, you’ll be back to professionally-produced videos sooner than later, but until then, consider the ideas above as you make your own videos.  For now, just do what you can do, wear a mask when out and about and near others, and take care of yourself and those around you.


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