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Re: To Video or Not to Video, that is the question...

Blog by Patricia Houlihan - Personal Real Estate Corporation | April 24th, 2020

Over the past 2 weeks I have had 2 people ask me whether we should be posting videos for our properties now that Covid-19 is restricting showings to a certain extent. This is a great question and I assume if 2 people are asking it, 200 are likely wondering! So here is the answer.

I used to do videos for all of my listings...for years.....That was until I attended a course at the annual USA National Association of Realtors (NAR) conference. The speaker was, like almost all who speak at NAR, an international  expert in the field. He had MANY reasons why video should be used as a tool to sell oneself (ie. to promote the realtor and to get more listings) but NOT as a tool to SELL homes. He noted that sometimes videos do more harm than good! My days of having professional videos made of listings stopped immediately!

With the recent Covid-19 issues and the global love of videos in general, I have been looking into this a bit more.  For the past 2 weeks I have been taking as many courses as I can on a variety of issues related to real estate, the market, etc. By sheer luck, I was able to attend a live webinar last week where one of the top experts IN THE WORLD (based in Australia and just cancelled a North American tour he was doing when Covid-19 shut things down) was speaking on how to best market homes at this crazy time. He talked not just about the issues with selling homes now, but also on an ongoing basis. He discussed various elements of a good home marketing package.

His top three required elements were:

1Professional photographs: Where necessary after the sellers have staged the house.

2Floor plans: He emphasized (and I strongly agree) that floor plans should ALWAYS be used, except perhaps on small, simply laid out condos. Many realtors don't use floor plans due to the cost. We almost always use them-although I have had sellers of multi million (ie. $10 million range) homes not want floor plans for security reasons. On the webinar, the speaker felt floor plans were so important that he even went to the trouble of showing realtors how to do their own (?). I don't advise this!  We hire a floor plan company to do our drawings.

3Concise ad copy: He noted the need to focus on the main features of the property and don't try to fit in everything...something I know from practicing law-pick your best points and go with those!

These were the top 3 things realtors need to utilize to sell homes in the time of Covid-19 and all the time! In fairness, he did mention videos further down his list. However, I keep hearing the other speaker from several years ago. I cannot find the notes from that presentation, nor have I been able to recall all of the many reasons he had to support not using video. I do however remember one key, and very important, reason. That speaker pointed out that while buyers seem to know that photographs can be misleading and they need to actually visit the property, people apparently tend to rely on videos to a much greater extent. He noted that even well done videos can be confusing and misrepresent the layout of a home and can be hard to follow. More importantly, videos don't give the true "feel" of the home. There is a significant danger that a potential buyer will watch a video and rule out the home-something they are unlikely to do based only on photos and floorplans. With the latter they will still want to view the home unless it clearly doesn't work for them...and viewings do sell homes. While I have personally bought 2 homes without setting foot in either, that is not the norm....so we want as many people as possible to come and see our listings if the home meets their basic criteria! Another problem with video is that buyers cannot ask questions about things that may be unclear or off putting to them-something buyers readily do when at in-person showings! 

At this point we are still able to show buyers homes. We are making huge efforts to ensure that this is done in a manner which minimizes, to the greatest extent possible, any risks to our sellers, buyers, or the public. If a time comes where we cannot do showings or where it seems unsafe to do so, we may have to revisit video. We are getting ready now, looking at the best options for video, just in case the time comes where we need to use it. Initial research suggests that, in terms of effectiveness, even when we can't show homes to the public, we would still be better off showing them the home through Facetime, a Zoom Video or Whats App video call, rather than simply posting a video. We are now seeing real estate developers book this type of "walk through" for their development sales rather than just posting a video and praying! The former options are interactive and reduce the chances of a buyer making a false assumption based on a video and ruling the property out. I am still investigating that and of course it will depend on what happens and what evolving rules require. For now we will stick with what the research suggests will best achieve a good result for our clients!

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Please let me know if you have any specific questions related to the current market or your particular situation.

Stay Safe!