Video-based property listings offer many potential advantages: Video listings stand out from non-video listings and communicate a lot of information in a relatively short format. It is believed video increases dwell time, encourages visitors to share content and can enhance a site’s SEO.
We’ve talked to those involved to try and establish how video can be used in property marketing and how effective it is.
It’s estimated that around three quarters of consumer Internet traffic is already video. Cisco Systems suggest this will grow further to 82% by 2021.
Hard statistics on online/video use specifically in UK property are sparse. In the US a 2017 report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says 95% of homebuyers use a website at some point in their search with 44% looking online first – and 50% finding virtual tours ‘very useful’. It confirms younger age groups are more active, suggesting usage can only increase.
NAR says 26% of estate agents use drones to create marketing content, while 18% plan to do so.
Developers frequently use computer generated animation or even virtual reality, some of it technically sophisticated to help clients visualise new build schemes.
River Film produce still renderings (CGIs), CG animation, live action, VR and shared immersive experiences for high end, high profile large residential, office, retail, leisure and mixed use schemes. David Groundwater, Managing Partner, points to the global nature of property video: “The majority of our clients are overseas these days. In London our favourite project of late has been 70 Saint Mary Axe.
“Budgets range from around £15k for a limited number of still renderings to hundreds of thousands for complex film productions including green screen studio shoot, location filming and near-feature film quality visual effects. We also now often shoot bespoke photography of characters in a studio that we composite into renderings in order truly to convey the development’s lifestyle.”
In estate agency videos can be used to showcase an area, a property, or both. As well as property walk-throughs some agents make use of presenter-led productions. Some agents add other video content including branch advertising, customer testimonials and local market reports.
Estate agents including large chains such as Bridgfords and Your Move, online agents Purplebricks and Emoov and high end agents such as Savills do publish general video content but don’t routinely publish property listings to video. Knight Frank have a YouTube channel showcasing some of their properties.
Overall it is niche or independent agents who seem to be more enthusiastic users of property video.
Bradleys Estate Agents is the largest independent estate agency in the West Country. Richard Greetham, Director, tells us about his company’s use of video: “We have been using video for four years and it is really popular with buyers. Instead of scrolling thorough pages of listings they can easily see which properties meet their requirements and resolve any issues. Our videos are also frequently shared, not only with family but also with builders, architects and so on if they need quotes for any work.
“Sellers love video too. They can see immediately from the view count that our marketing is getting results.
“Video has also greatly widened our market. We now receive enquiries from as far away as Australia which was unknown pre-video.”
On costs, while some users create videos in-house, and a professional video company is likely to charge around £350 for a video tour, the cost of high end productions is one aspect to consider.
However David Groundwater explains: “The larger budgets are justified when either you have a serious marketing campaign or you are trying to attract significant investment – so that might be a super-luxury resi skyscraper in an international city trying to attract UHNW buyers from overseas, or a giant masterplan that’s seeking to break ground for example.”
Richard Greetham says: “We find that on average 50 plays of a video leads to one viewing. However, while the numbers of both enquiries and viewings are less than
before video the enquiries and viewings generated are of much higher quality, which saves time for everyone. The portals like Rightmove and Zoopla do not provide any play stats.
“Video also helps to reduce the fall-through rate. Without video typically an average 75% of sales will go through but video increases this to 86%.
“While we receive offers on properties as a result of our videos we have not sold a property from one as such. This is because we ask people to view a property in person before a sale is agreed.”
While video adds an extra dimension to a developer’s or agent’s site it also allows them to tackle social media marketing – an essential element in today’s marketing mix – more effectively.
YouTube is probably the most usual way to distribute videos although Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn are also used.
Nelly Berova, Managing Director of Art Division, a digital marketing agency specialising in the property market, points out that video and social media also have a use in lead generation not just in selling properties, and can also be used to attract vendors: “Apart from using videos on an agent’s website, they can be used very successfully in a lead generation campaign.
“We find Facebook produces fantastic results when promoting a video, especially if viewers are taken to a landing page with a specific call to action. If using Facebook to attract leads, a video aimed at buyers can be a great door opener. This works exceptionally well for new build promotions.
“Equally, if the agent is after vendors, a video that is relevant to the selling process can increase the awareness and engagement with the brand almost four times more than a static image.”
David Groundwater says: “Production costs are bound to continue to fall as technology develops. So I suspect most properties in the future will have film or VR of some sort produced – from a little apartment upwards. But most of these will continue to be somewhat utilitarian in nature compared to the creative, emotive and story-based productions that we live for.”
Richard Greetham, summarises: “In my opinion video is the future of property marketing. Buyers today want maximum information and video helps provide this – eight or so photos on a property portal are not enough.
“Presently we mostly use video for our high end property listings and in this regard video has replaced the lifestyle brochure. The main obstacle preventing the wider use of video is cost, although we are looking at how we could use video for lower end properties too. Interestingly the cost model of the online agents means they can’t afford to offer their customers video.”
The advantages of video for buyers and sellers, agents and developers alike are difficult to argue against.
We agree that it seems inevitable that video will become more widespread in property marketing, especially at the higher end.
However in the standard residential market, particularly where conventional agents are competing on cost with online agents, it could take longer for video to become the norm.