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YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web, yet most REALTORS still haven’t figured out how tap into its traffic. Maybe that’s because their MLS listing sheets can’t play a video?  Let’s change that.

In yet another example of “maybe it will go away” thinking, REALTORS are hoping nobody notices their online marketing looks nothing like YouTube. Most home marketing remains in the glorified Sears-catalog stages: browse the site, see a couple of photos and text, then print it on an inkjet printer. Of course, when they’re shopping for something they might like to buy – a computer, a car, a hotel room – videos and virtual tours make all the difference. So it’s high time the real estate industry made it mandatory that every listing online had at least one good video.

REALTORS did it in the past: the market leaders in the industry long ago mandated their agents add at least 6, then 10, photos at minimum before they’d post the inventory online. The same kind of line in the sand is needed for video marketing. And not the “photo slide show” kind either. If a 14 year old can post a video from their school field trip online in seconds, a well-paid real estate professional should be able to do something at least as good. (Else we might start recruiting more 14 year-olds, but that’s another story…)

Of course, it’s not just quantity we want: There are millions of photos of homes online these days – most of which rank from “awful” to “was the agent barking mad?” So here are ten ideas on how to shoot quality video for marketing a home, just in case the agent actually wants people to consider buying it:

  1. Plan ahead. Don’t just start shooting video and ad-libbing your narration. Think of the outdoor spaces and indoor rooms that need to be highlighted with video, and write out a few short sentences you’ll say for each. Whether you’re just narrating or personally appear in video, don’t talk off the top of your head. Likewise, plan where to place the camera and what you’ll to pan or zoom towards in the shot.
  2. See the light. Open windows and turn on all overhead lighting. Look for shadows and eliminate them or change the shot. You don’t need to video the whole room – just the key feature areas that will are most likely to interest and excite the viewier.
  3. Stay still. There is absolutely no reason to wildly pan back and forth, zoom in and out, and definitely no need to spin around like a ballerina. Nobody does this in person, so stop shooting the camera like you’re a drunken sailor (no offense, sailors).
  4. Be there. Get in front of the camera and talk to the viewer. Look directly at the lens and smile. Move your arms and walk very slowly if you cross the room. You’re selling the home, so you have to be present in the video.
  5. Do not edit. You’re a REALTOR, not Kubrick. Cut out the cutesy stuff and save your time. There’s no need for special effects, transitions, flying logos or fades. At most, add a text-over effect with the street address and your website or phone number. (And to hell with MLS systems that won’t let you do this; just post it on YouTube and Facebook, which is all the traffic you need.)
  6. Avoid certain shots. Do REALTORS actually know what happens in bathrooms? Then let’s stop videoing them, shall we? No toilet or vanity or moldy tub shots, please! If the bathroom is less than 20 x 20 feet, then it’s just a bathroom. No need to video it.
  7. Tell a story. The purpose of a movie is to tell a story, not catalog countertops and floors. Determine what each home’s unique story, benefit or living experience value is (compared to the competition) and shoot your videos to highlight and tell that story.
  8. Stop the music. First, you probably don’t own the rights to the music for commercial purposes. Second, your musical taste is yours. Third, if buyers wanted really good music videos, they’d go to YouTube on their own.
  9. Keep it short. It’s a marketing commercial, not a documentary. People are distracted today, especially online. They won’t watch a …. what was I saying? Oh, right… they won’t watch your videos if they feel they forgot to make popcorn.
  10. Show product engagement. It’s boring to see photos and videos of listings featuring people-less rooms. You’re selling a place where people will live, play, relax, exist; not a museum. So bring in the actors (or just use the family that lives there). Show some chopping in the kitchen, relaxing on the back deck, playing in the yard. Buyers need help envisioning how they might live there – so call in the extras and start the show.

Of course, many other tips come to mind: Use a tripod. Shoot in high definition. Upload to YouTube. Post the video to your Facebook page and embed it into your blog. Probably you have some ideas on your own, too (please share them below). But the key point is this: For Gen X and Gen Y, surfing the web is a multimedia experience. The Boomer-days computer experience of card-catalog flat information just won’t work for them (or anyone, Boomers included, really). Nobody expects real estate marketing videos to be a production-studio release. Just shoot it as naturally and straightforward as you’d do a showing with a buyer in person.

But the deadline for adding a video to every listing has come. With so much inventory saturating most markets, video is the key technology to help your listings stand out against competing properties. Great video will help sell your listings, especially when compared to the foreclosures in the marketplace that are unceremoniously dumped online en-masse, with minimal data and barely photos . Good video will also help you get more listings – from other agents who are still printing postcards, as well as For-Sale-By-Owners who can’t put all of the pieces together on their own.

So what are you waiting for? Comb your hair, fix your make-up and get out to your listings. The casting call has sounded: Aaannnnnnd, Action!