Make a video, sell your home
An on-camera testimonial about your house and neighborhood could draw more traffic for open houses and showings and even sell your home faster or at a higher price.
© Tim Robberts/Getty Images
Home sellers should get ready for their close-ups.
More real-estate agents are asking owners to take a starring role in short videos touting the best features of their home and neighborhood. These videos, designed to make a home stand out in Web searches, can move homes faster, because they draw more traffic for open houses and showings. Some agents believe they can help sellers fetch a slightly higher price for their home, even in a sluggish market. (Bing Cube: See photos of staged homes.)
"It generates more people that might be interested," says Terry Burger of Re/Max Unlimited in Atlanta. "And I believe that these videos can get the sellers more money."
Burger has made three videos this year, and two of the houses featured sold very quickly at prices very close to asking. People who put in an offer after watching the videos generally bid more than others did, he said.
"It is definitely a good trend in that we aren't getting lowball offers" from it, he says.
The video effect
Of course, some sellers are a bit nervous about being filmed inside their home.
Rick Everswick, who listed his house in northwestern Atlanta with Burger, wasn't so sure he was ready to star in his own "home" movie. As a church outreach director, he didn't feel comfortable boasting about the luxuries of his large home, which he and his wife, Emily, were selling to do missionary work in Guatemala.
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He felt even more skittish about posting the video on Facebook and asking his friends to post it too, as Burger requested. "It just felt awkward," he says.
But as soon as the video was posted to YouTube, Facebook and other sites, it started receiving clicks. "It was unbelievable the response we got," Everswick says. "We were inundated for requests for showings."
The day after the video was posted, the Everswicks accepted an offer — close to the $295,000 asking price — from a buyer whose agent had seen it on a friend's Facebook post.
An emerging trend
Part of these videos' drawing power is their scarcity. According to a 2009 National Association of Realtors survey, fewer than 1% of agents were shooting video to sell listings. Last year, only 3% were using video-hosting websites, according to the NAR. Fewer still made videos featuring sellers talking about their home.
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But that is starting to change. Alison Paoli, spokeswoman for real-estate search engine Zillow, said the number of videos uploaded to the site has increased sevenfold in the past year. That prompted Zillow to get into video production with StudioNow, a suite of services to help agents – many of whom lack video-editing skills – make these short productions.
"Video is probably one of the most powerful forms of marketing for anything," agrees Tara-Nicholle Nelson, real-estate broker, attorney and founder of REThinkRealEstate.com. "It's the No. 1 form of content that people consume on the Web. It's what they are looking for."
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Cara Ameer of Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra, Fla., who produces her own video segment called "Ponte Vedra Cribs" for a local NBC affiliate, says she thinks more agents will begin making seller videos when they realize what it does for a listing.
"It's the wave of the future," she says. "It makes (the home's marketing) more genuine and more real," she says. "It's not just an agent 'selling.'"
Indeed, Burger says, having a seller rather than an agent talk about a home disarms prospective buyers, allowing them to view the information with less skepticism. This personal touch also helps buyers to remember a home more than they would if they watched a virtual tour or scrutinized photos. And, unlike other forms of advertising, it really highlights the lifestyle a property affords, whether it's a house with a great backyard for entertaining or a community with lots of events and opportunities for social interaction.
Of course, a seller video is no magic bullet. It can't make an overpriced, quirky or damaged home sell instantly.
One golf-course home that Ameer filmed with its owner has yet to sell because it is one of the larger and more expensive homes in its neighborhood. "I think [the video] attracted more interest," she says, "but the price point was on the higher side for this community."
Burger also says it's not necessarily the best idea for sellers who are wildly uncomfortable in front of the camera, or for those who are selling a home under unhappy circumstances.