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Old August 15th, 2006, 08:22 PM   #1
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Getting Started in Real Estate Videos

I am looking for a way to get into doing Video Tours for some Real Estate Agents of homes which they are selling. If anybody in this business can let me know how they got started I would greatly appreciate their advice
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Old October 30th, 2007, 12:44 AM   #2
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ditto... any advice or pointers from anyone?
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Old October 30th, 2007, 09:20 AM   #3
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Todd and Alan,

to avoid repeating a lot of information that has been posted before, I suggest you do a search for "real estate" here in the Taking-Care-Of-Business forum. You should find a number of threads with useful information, hopefully that'll get you started!

- Martin
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Old November 10th, 2007, 11:20 AM   #4
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The truth about real-estate videos

To better understand whether or not you can make money shooting video tours for the real estate industry, you must first understand the customer. Real Estate agencies are comprised of multiple realtors who are nothing more than independent contractors. The Realtors give up a small percentage of each sell to the agency in exchange for name brand recognition and administrative services such as office space, secretaries, sales seminars, technology training, etc. etc. The individual realtors are responsible for funding their own marketing efforts. (i.e. virtual tours, newspaper listings, magazine listings, personal billboards, etc.) After presenting our product to several Real Estate brokerage firms, the top executives all made it quite clear that the agency will not pay for virtual tours. Knowing that you will not be successful in marketing your product to the various agency executives, it is important that you learn more about the individual realtor.

The average realtor is a 43 year old woman who makes around $40,000 a year. Those stats tell you a lot about your prospective customer. First, how well does this demographic use technology? My experience has been that there are very few in the real estate industry that are techno literate. You end up not only trying to market your product, but training the realtors on how use their computer as well. Not fun! Second, she only makes $40,000 per year. Now Iím sure thatís after all expenses, but you are still dealing with an individual/company that most likely grosses about $65,000 per year, if that. How many companies do you work with or hear about that take advantage of professional video services if they canít even break the 6 digit mark in gross income? The bottom line is that the average realtor canít afford your services unless you want to charge them less than $100 per video tour. (Thatís what IPIX used to charge and seems to be all realtors will pay for these services.) Some of you might think that $100 per tour would be fine if you had enough volume. If thatís the case, let me break down how long it takes to produce a high quality video tour.

Iím first going to assume that you will not be adding a voiceover to the tour. (If you do, it will take about an hour between writing the script, getting it approved, and recording the voiceover. If you had a professional do the read, you would have to pay them as well.) Okay, so you receive the order from Joe Realtor to produce a video tour of his lake side property in Anytown, USA. The first thing you have to do is schedule a time to meet the realtor at the home. It will usually take an average of 20 minutes to get to the property. Once on location, it takes about an hour to shoot the interior and exterior of the home. After producing several tours, our team got it down to about 45 minutes. Add another 20 minutes to get back to your studio. If you are efficient with your non-linear editing system, the post process takes about 30 minutes. Once you have completed the edit and added music, it will take you about 10 minutes to encode the video to windows media format. (My favorite format) Then youíll spend about 10 minutes uploading the WM files to your streaming provider. (Iím making the assumption that most videographers do not have their own servers.) Once the files are ready to be viewed on-line, you will want to test them to make sure they look okay. That will take about 10 minutes. After you are satisfied with the quality, you will forward the ďurl linkĒ to the realtor and their web designer, and I would recommend burning a copy of the tour to CD for the realtor as well. That takes another 10 minutes or so.

So, to produce one video tour, encode to a .wmv file and burn to a CD, it took
2 hours and 35 minutes. If you divide that by $100, youíve grossed roughly $40 per hour before expenses. Now letís look at what you actually take home in profit.

Income per video tour: $100

Expenses per video tour:

tape stock - $3 (3 homes on one tape)
6 months Streaming - $20 (Assuming you get good rates)
Postage for CD - $2

Total expenses - $25

Net Income per Tour: $75

After all expenses, you take home about $75 dollars each tour. So, you produced the video tour for about $30 per hour. Is it worth it? Maybe so, but it's hard to grow a successful corporate video production business on $30 per hour.

The times I gave above were what we were hitting after streamlining our shooting process, worked out all the details with the web designers, trained our clients on the benefits of the product and how to use it, mastered the editing and streaming process, and found an affordable streaming provider. (Take into consideration a substantial learning curve if you are not familiar with the process of streaming video over the Internet.)

If your thinking about getting into real estate videography, my overall recommendation is to spend your time finding a more viable market. If you havenít had the chance already, it will take you months just to figure out how the whole real estate process works and how you can best serve their needs. (It took us about 9 months of R&D and networking just to get in good enough shape to make our first sales presentation.)

If you still believe there is money to be made in real estate videography, my recommendation would be to forget about residential realtors and only focus on commercial realtors and major contractors. The best way to see if a company is a good candidate for an on-line video tour is to look at their website. If they have a high quality website, they will probably have the budget for a video tour. If it looks like their site was put together by a high school kid, they probably don't understand enough about web video to even consider your offer.

I have produced several video tours for commercial realtors and development groups. The average tour was priced at about $1000. It takes a little longer to produce commercial tours but the hourly works out to be about $100-$150.

Kris Simmons
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Old December 16th, 2007, 01:35 PM   #5
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Real Estate Video Tours

Unfortunately, I have to echo what Kris said. Realtors are (1) Cheap, (2) Technologically challenged and (3) not the smartest or best businesspeople.

It's a tough crowd. First of all, most see NO need for video tours or even virtual tours, which is why less than 20% of all homes have any type of tour. In fact, in many areas, it hovers around 5-7%. And that is because one has to PAY for a tour, and realtors won't spend the money. And don't think for a moment that you will target high end properties - those agents are the worst. Many only will put up 3-4 photos (even though they CAN put up 1 or 2 dozen) because they're goal is to get the buyer to CALL them so they can personally show them the home.

Realtors have lost total control over their 'closed business model' in the past 10 years - to the internet. By only putting up some 'teaser' photos, they retain their one last way of controlling the process - by forcing the buyer to contact them (don't want to give away TOO much info!). Unfortunately, what buyers are actually doing is clicking NEXT when they see a listing with only a few photos. They don't want to waste their time visiting properties that aren't what they are looking for. And these days, with a record number of homes on the market and record high gas prices, most people are sitting at their computer ELIMINATING properties based on their internet presentation. Most realtors still don't 'get it'.

Video Tours DO work. It's a great listing tool. It sells houses. About 10% of the agents to DO understand this, who DO understand marketing, who DO understand you have to spend money to make money - THAT is your customer.

Realtors, of course, can give you the song and dance why you shouldn't list and sell your house BY OWNER (we have the experience, connections, professional contacts, etc.) However, when it comes to THEIR business, they think they can do it all themselves. So they design their own websites, take their own photos, design their own marketing, brochures, etc. and do their own tours.

And it shows. Many of these people still don't know how to send an attachment via email - ya know what I mean?

Try to convince them to follow their own advice and hire a professional, and you'll get a million excuses.

What will fuel online video for real estate is the SELLERS. They 'get it'. Totally. They understand the value. And they are demanding that their agents do video tours. After all, that IS why they're paying $20K +++ in commission, right? To MARKET their home?

Tough crowd.
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 12:18 AM   #6
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So maybe that's a market to hit... the sellers themselves. Educate the sellers on the benefits of doing a video tour, and they can either insist the realtor buy it, or pay for it themselves to help sell their home.

Seems if you charged say $250 for the video tour, you're hourly rate would go to approximately $75 (based on above calculations). That's not too bad. You might not make a high-end living off that, but it's a good chunk. I wonder if the sellers themselves would pay $250 if *they* saw the benefit of a video tour. Or maybe split the cost with their realtor. I think there's a better chance the sellers are more tech/internet saavy than the realtor, so it might work.

But then again, I have no experience in this market and could be completely wrong. Just offering my thoughts after reading the posts above.

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Old January 5th, 2008, 01:32 PM   #7
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Really good advise in the previous posts.

If I can add anything to the conversation, you really need to be a business man/woman first then a videographer second. It is a very very tough sell, after about 4 years of producing videos, and constantly calling realtors, sending out packets, etc, it is finally starting to pay off.

A fancy video is great to show for a wedding or demo reel but it means nothing to a realtor.

We have come up with a very unique pricing structure that is working out much better then the typical $100 per house. You have to know you area and find out what the realtors want and provide it for them.
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Old January 5th, 2008, 06:44 PM   #8
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Wow, Kris. I want to run all my ideas by you! I had actually been considering trying to market real estate videos, but I think I'll leave that alone for now.
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Old January 6th, 2008, 03:07 AM   #9
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I have a real estate license and I know a lot of agents are cheap. The only person this benefits is the listing agent. They get paid when the property sells. The going rate of commission is 6%. The selling agent gets the 6% if they sell the property. If another agent sells the property, the listing agent gets 3% usually on a split. It's not really cost effective for them to do a video tour because other agents are also showing the property. Also, they can post a lot of pictures on the MLS that only agents can see who typically bring the buyer. If the property is priced right and someone likes it, it will sell with or without a video. Also, realtors get paid to basically open doors and walk/drive you around to see homes and get you to sign a contract. Most are not really technologically savy. I know, I got tired of being asked to take pictures of homes with basic point and shoot digital cameras.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 10:18 AM   #10
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Is this forum dead? I hope not, but that could be good or bad.I've been doing a lot of research on this topic here and on the net and was hoping someone with experience in this field could answer some questions.

Who pays for the web hosting on google,you tube,,etc.?

In your opinion what is the best way to shoot the interiors,ie: hand held or on a tripod? or does it differ from house to house?

Do you get mixed white balance readings from outdoor light?

How long does it take to shoot a standard 3br 2bth?

What format do you shoot in SD or HD or direct to disk?

Who does the voice overs? (if any)

Different pricing structure for sq. footage?

Has anyone tried to approach the sellers themselves?

Sorry for all the questions. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 10:44 AM   #11
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The sites themselves host the videos on google and youtube. Another site is We host all of our videos on our servers, others do it many different ways.

The best way to shoot the interior your going to get a mixed bag of answers it all boils down to what look you want and what your price point is.

I generally white balance my camera for every different scene.

We shoot on a tripod and I can knock out a 3br 2 bth in about 10 minutes.

We shoot SD usually to a firestore device to save our camera heads. I wish shooting HD was a good option at this point but it is not. Remember these all have to be compresses for the internet and with the file limitations both HD and SD will look about the same.

You can hire a professional to do the voice overs, I feel as though the voice overs are distracting from the video, we want people to see the house in the video, they can read the description to find out more details about the home.

We do have different pricing structures per sq. ft.

The sellers are already paying to have their house sold, Included with the agents commission is marketing. This is a marketing tool and we believe the agents should pay for the video. I have had a few sellers pay in the past but it was maybe 2 or 3 videos out of about the 2000 videos we have shot in the past 4 years.

Every area is going to be different, bigger cities are going to sell different then smaller cities. I think a lot of times people who start doing real estate tours focus way too much on the video, yes the video is important but the most important thing to make this business work is your marketing and relationship with the realtors. If you put together a professional looking video you are already leaps and bounds ahead of what they are using now. Generally improving your video is not going to make sales go up. Getting on the phone and into real estate meetings are is really what is going to make your sales go up.

Hope this helps.

Todd Kivimaki
Wow Video Tours
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Old March 15th, 2008, 12:18 PM   #12
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Thanks for the quick reply Todd.
At this point I'm just testing the waters b4 I jump in so I haven't approached any realtors yet. Getting some postcards ready to print. I want to make sure I can answer any questions they throw at me especially when it comes to web hosting which is my weak spot. They're going to ask who pays for it and how much.I've uploaded a few qt files to my local cable company but that's it. I checked out for any info about the video tours but couldn't find any (except the benefits of having one).I don't have a server to upload to except the cable co.which only has 1GB of storage which doesn't sound like a whole lot,do you know the conversion rate for QT or flash files per Gig?
Do you back up to tape while shooting or rely solely on the fire store?
I was thinking of having the realtor do the v.o. since they know the details and are selling the prop.Maybe not.
Maybe I should approach the sellers and tell them to call their agent about my services?
I've done a tour of my own house just for practice(on a tripod, Sony dsr-370 dv-cam) and it took me 30 min !!! for my small 2 bd 2bth house including exteriors.Hopefully I'll get quicker.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 12:41 PM   #13
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Another question for anyone. Do you automatically get the copyrights to post the tours (in whole or in part) you shot for your own web site to promote your business?

Thank you.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 01:08 PM   #14
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I gave up on trying to get into real estate video a long time ago after one agent told me the reason they didn't want a professional looking video was because they didn't want people to be let down when they actually see the house after seeing an amazing looking video.

"Friends don't let friends do real estate videos"

ha ha, just kidding
I hope you guys have better luck than I did!

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Old March 15th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #15
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I'll throw in my small experience in this area as well. As most have said, realtors don't want to pay for it. But it is funny because in recent surveys of home BUYERS you see that the VAST majority are actually doing most of their search....ONLINE! Yes, after they narrow it down to two or three home, THEN they go tour them in person, but they narrow them down by using the internet/photos/video of the homes.

Anyways, I did a couple TV spots for a couple hotels once. I talked with the owner a little (the whole sales thing many have mentioned) and he decided that he wanted to use some frame grabs from my video on his website, and also decided to have me do 'virtual tours' of his rooms. First, I just mount my camera on a Merlin and walk through the rooms, then do a locked down pan of each room. Not too hard but the steadicam shots seem to be what they like as it promotes a kind of 'you are there' sense. Anyways, hotel owners may be a market that can see the benefit of video, as they are used to paying for some marketing.
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