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A new dawn for real estate video

June 2013. 183 million Americans viewed more than 44 billion videos.

20 billion of them were ads created by national brands.

I’d like to inspire your brand to join the movement.


I’m a regular reader of Ad Age. I rabidly consume brand blogs and marketing articles dispensing the best of what the brightest minds in my field offer.

Video, a medium I’m passionate about, is often discussed. Ideas, techniques and advice dispensed in these publications differ greatly from the “it’s OK to suck” advice often presented in real estate.

You deserve better advice than that.

Bad videos kill a brand.

Decent videos aren’t memorable.

But great video is worth its weight in gold. 

I’d like to inspire you to greatness.


Forget rules. Focus on goals. Captivating the viewer should rank as your highest.

Storytelling is a construct brand marketers rely on to captivate. And video is now their chosen medium. Dove’s story of natural and inner beauty explodes through this video, positioning Dove as an agent of change that inspires women to feel confident about themselves.

Samsung’s story is simple and effective in this viral video built around a supernatural kid with razor sharp aim. The product and brand are brilliantly positioned and the viewer never feels as if they are being sold anything.

Videos don’t need to be epic. Or expensive. This six-second Vine from G.E. reflects the wonder and passion for science and discovery that lies at the heart of the brand.

The mistake real estate pundits make via their just aim, shoot and post advice, is an insensitivity to how exiguous the result of that process brands you. The mere act of banging out a video without attending to modern practices, standards and attention to quality does not cast you as savvy, modern and progressive. Today, anyone can do that.

The truth is that the affordable equipment, tools and apps that we all have now set the creative bar higher, not lower, than ever.

View this six-second masterpiece created by an amateur on Vine submitted to Cavendish Hotels for their Valentine’s Day video contest. Compare it to these professional videos by Bacardi Rum or Oreo. It’s on par, if not better.

Juxtapose these brand stories and strategies against the typical video produced in real estate, which often entails agents touting their attributes, narrated home tours, or behind-the-wheel market updates. Given the subject matter the real estate brand marketer is gifted with – homes, neighborhoods, lifestyles – there’s so much more that could be done.


Consider the examples above as a jumping off point. As I’ve stated, to create the type of video I’m suggesting, you can’t follow a template. Be original. Local. Brand centric.

Consider hiring a creative to oversee this. Someone with professional chops who can conceptualize, write, film, edit, curate and post great content.

Consider building a street team of local interns – skater kids, for example, paid to shoot, edit and submit slice-of-life videos for your website, Facebook, Vine, Instagram or blog.

You won’t regret this.

Idea #1: Local stories. Nest Realty, named by Inc. magazine as one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in America, launched five years ago. Video was a critical component to building this brand. Take a page from their “Love Where You Live” campaign told through people who reside in their local markets. Every broker in America should have a library of videos like Nest’s. 

Idea #2: Contests. RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis hosts a film festival every year. Submissions are not relegated to “real estate” content. The story this tells is of a local real estate brand that supports local arts and culture. I love that. Check out the 2012 winners.

Idea #3: Home tours. Every home has a story left untold by typical home tours. Not the homes Raj Qsar and his team at Boutique Realty list. Through a simple construct and a few props, their videos tell the story of homes filled with life. They also scream sensitivity and flair about Boutique’s brand. The soundtrack makes it all that much more perfect.

Idea #4: Mini movies. You may recall this action drama produced for Neo Property of Australia that went viral in 2011. That same year, Los Angeles agent Eric Lavey took a less sensational and far more clever approach. He hired student filmmakers and produced mini films that would fit any agent’s budget. They’re simple, well done and stand out against all the basic virtual tours, still photos, and basic home tours all his competitors make.

Idea #5: Local hangouts. Create 60-second videos of local hangouts, places and people. Cafes. Bookstores. Cycling and running trails. Places to view the sunset. An interview with a local golf pro. Yoga instructor. Dog trainer. I’d record local high school teams. Teachers. Principals.

Every one of these subjects serves one of your greatest needs: They give your viewers deep insight into the community. And they also become part of your viral marketing. What better way to disseminate brand vibe to locals than to capture their essence on video and promote them to your world?

Your video strategy doesn’t have to suck

The dumb-it-all-down movement in real estate is pandemic. This strategy aspiring influencers use to build affinity with the real estate agent community is beneath you and your profession.

Reject it.

True professionals seek to operate at their best.

They continue to hone and refine their skills, their output and their team.

Your video does not have to suck.


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17 Responses to “A new dawn for real estate video”

  1. The Coach says:

    Well done Marc, Video is not something in “The Future”, it is today. I will point out, however, that 99% of Agents will fall short of “Budgeting” for Professionally (or even Armatures, such as the students) produced videos, and I contend that just starting to utilize Video, even when done with a smartphone and uploaded to YouTube, is miles ahead of the competition. It can produce results. Brokers, on the other hand, have no excuse. They MUST budget for this.

    You and I may not understand why, but the reality is, that the same 99% find doing this difficult. Rather than “Tell” them what the “Need” to do, we need to “Educate and Empower” them as to “How” to do it =)

    Nice Job,


  2. Marc Davison says:

    In tandem to what I wrote here last week, check out this report:


    In a nutshell:

    “Growth in overall digital and mobile viewing represents critical mass for content creators on new media platforms. There will be 204.6 million US digital video viewers in 2017, representing 78.1% of internet users and 62.7% of the general population. That’s an increase from 182.5 million in 2013, or 75.0% of internet users and 57.7% of US residents…

    Bottom line: If your guru/coach/productivity ninja still believes it’s okay to create and post crappy video, it’s time to question the rest of their advice as well.

  3. Steve Barnes says:

    Excellent piece— I really enjoyed it. I wanted to share a video I just did in a movie trailer style for an estate that is for sale in the Atlanta area:

    Also, you make a great case about the community focused videos which we do for several multifamily developers. Make it ALL about your immediate community and that generosity pays back 10 fold. Here is one from Austin TX talking about one of the most talked about things in the area…BATS. It’s also SEO gold:

    Cheers– great article.

  4. Doug Francis says:

    I was nervous when I first went on-camera talking about real estate but planned it out in my mind ahead of time with this strategy: would I watch this video? You are so right, “bad videos destroy a brand” especially when you are working to differentiate your brand (from all those that really do suck).

    These days what I am looking to create is highly socially share-able content whenever I can… but it still needs to have entertainment value. Thanks for sharing some good ideas for future projects.

  5. Jonathan Kauffmann says:

    Thanks for the mention, Marc. As you know, video is a big part of our strategy at Nest. We’ve done approximately 20 ‘Live Where You Love’ videos to date and we just finished shooting 4 more focusing on our newest location in Fredericksburg, VA.

    These videos have had such a positive impact on our brand and our agents that we’re working on some additional video initiatives starting in a few weeks. Needless to say, video will be a big part of our digital strategy in 2014.

    One more quick note: while most of our videos have been short films with stories about the areas we serve, some of our most successful videos have been a little more whimsical and fun. Here’s one example from last year: http://www.nestrealty.com/holidays/

    This was much less of a production, but still had a great impact.

    • Marc Davison says:


      You’re welcome. For the sake of our readers, could you provide some insight into what you spend to make these video gems and what you believe the return has been?

      My hope is that we can turn the tide of advice being dispensed in real estate about video and illustrate the sort of results one could imagine is they spent smart dollars on higher end video production.


    • Jonathan Kauffmann says:

      Sure, Marc.

      With regards to cost: it depends. We typically plan a block or series of videos to be filmed within a several day period. If we plan things out very well, we get some economies of being able to use bits and pieces of interviews in multiple videos…and being able to shoot b-roll in blocks and use it in multiple videos.

      Even with detailed planning, there are occasionally weather issues or even the need to go re-shoot some scenes after we see the first version. Those could add to the cost. But overall, we strive to be in the $2000-$2500 range per video. (That doesn’t take into account our staff’s planning time, which is actually quite extensive.)

      For a small firm like ours it’s a big chunk, but we feel it’s definitely worth the time and investment. Not only have we won awards for the videos and have had over 40,000 views, but we’re really helping to educate our clients and prospective clients about the areas we serve – that’s really the goal. We know the videos are educational because our agents get feedback from their buyers that they’ve watched the videos to learn about the area. Or that someone found our videos first and then chose to contact Nest to help them find a home.

      Sorry to be a bit vague on what the specific return has been for us, other than saying that we wouldn’t have done over 20 of them if we didn’t think they were worth it.

      Hope that helps.

  6. Christian Sterner says:

    Great post Marc. Our industry definitely operates on its own set of rules. For example, YouTube has been squarely focused entertainment quality content since the day it started trying to monetize: brands want nothing to do with user generated content and they definitely didn’t like that YouTube got famous-in part-by leaving copyrighted video clips up as long as they could. Next, the move outside of real estate was to auto-create “video” content using static text and images (Animoto, SpotMixer, Jivox and tons of others). Both of these trends, which have played themselves out already outside the industry, are on center stage right now in real estate. To close this comment without giving away our future, what I’ll say is this: user generated video is communication, not marketing/branding. Video is hugely powerful as a communication method — it would just be wise to never confuse this form with marketing.

  7. Michael Sosnowski says:

    We have been doing videos for several years….and have nearly 100 on YouTube. We also separately host our videos as well.

    The great thing about video in today’s real estate market is that it is a great point of differentiation. Creating a good video of a property or neighborhood is hard work – if you want to do it well. The idea that you can just “slap anything up” is a dead end strategy.

    For the most part we do walk-through property videos. People like them – especially when you focus on a property’s high points that cannot be clearly seen in photos. (Good real estate photography is another story).

    This is an example of the kind of neighborhood things we are doing (along with an interview with the owner of the property). The next evolution for us is more “experts” talking about the community.


    • Marc Davison says:

      Hope you don’t mind if I make a few suggestions to take your videos up a notch.

      1. The Anchorage viddy could use an edit: (shorter, less talking , music throughout). While the person is speaking, she should be off camera and let the viewer have 100% focus on the property. This way when she’s describing the home, the rooms she’s describing is synced up with the footage.

      2. What would really help #2 and #1 is shooting your subjects at least twice – in other words have them tell their story multiple times and shoot them from multiple angles. Then edit the footage together using the different angles and sound bytes. Watch any TV show. A camera never stays on the subject for more than 8 seconds. These days, it typically shorter. This will help you keep the viewer longer but it also makes the subjects and the story so much more interesting to watch. Also, use the zoom. Get real close up on a person. The closer the more intimate the story becomes.

      3. The narrator has a very good voice. I’d use her more often. Use the advice I offered above as well. Needs music. Needs better, cleaner edits. The 3 or seconds I’m watching the girls pour lemonade would be far more enjoyable with a sound track.

      I know you didn’t ask for a critique. But I’m taking the liberty of offering it anyway when links are shared to video. My purpose, to help you and others make better video.

      Peace and love.

  8. Charles Lents says:

    As agents we sell homes in the community and should focus more on the community and less on the homes.

    Please check out my new video lifestyle blog for my real estate brokerage…vivofortwayne.com.

    We are capturing our city with insight about restaurants, culture, events and more. The response has been better than expected.

    All the best !
    Charles Lents
    Vivo Property

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