A Non-Professional’s Guide To Making Real Estate Video

August 11, 2006

This post will address hands-on solutions for vlogs/video podcasts applicable to online video in general. More specifically, it will delve into that specific concerns associated with real estate video production and editing issues.   It isn’t intended to be a professional guide – only a set of thumbnail rules that may help you to quickly shoot better real estate video for immediate use online while you learn to implement more professional techniques.

In other posts, we discussed that video is not a magic solution to selling your property. It is a tool to be managed. As correctly pointed out in a comment by Toby in Part 1 of the “Video and Real Estate” series of posts, video that is poorly done can keep people away from an otherwise interesting listing.  Additionally, the video might blow the sale by establishing a different set of expectations from what exists.  Great points and thanks for the participation. I want to expand on Toby’s points and discuss more of the issues and potential solutions.

Issues to be covered in this first posting include the following:

Small Screen Size:  Many people likely dont watch full screen video on their computer (although a fair number likely do). The smaller the screen, the less “feel” one gets for the property.

Unrealistic Perspectives: Viewing perspective makes or break a real estate video. This is part of what Toby refers to in his comment and this issue could fill an entire blog.  In it’s most simplistic form, lens focal length determines the angle of view and the perspective that viewers see.  Wikipedia has a great article on focal length and lenses as they apply to cameras – the information is equally applicable to video cameras.  Note that changing the amount of zoom on most video cameras can also change perspective. 

Airing Dirty Laundry: Videos of unkempt properties likely are not as interesting (in the ways that matter anyway) as properties that are properly prepared for sale.

White Walls (and more White Walls): Video of real estate can morph into a video of walls and corners. This is particularly true of an unfurnished properties. The corollary to this for land video might be called “grass and more grass…the grass is always greener…”

Excessive Motion:  Ever watch a vacation video that made it hard to focus on the subject due to shaky video with fast pans and zooms?  Would people find that interesting to watch for a home sales video?  Enough said.  hehe.

Choppy Clips: Short fast shots might be interesting for an artistic cutting edge film. However, your audience likely wants to see the property that they are considering buying. Technique and planning are an important factor here. What seems to be an eternity while shooting often ends up as a very short video clip. 

Things to do to overcome some of these issues:

Plan Your Shots: Decide what features of the property are important and how you’ll best highlight those features visually. This should also be the time when you think about important factual details such as history or highlights of the property to include in your narration.  You should also make sure that the house is at its best for the parts that will be included in the video. This doesn’t need to be complicated and it should be in format that you can best work with…some people will prefer a detailed plan and others something much more simple. At a minimum, write down some notes about the property and have an idea of how you want to approach the video production.

If you have the ability to edit video, you should also decide if there are any short establishing shots that you’ll want to take to edit into the video. These could include the neighborhood, nearby schools, or attractions.

If you don’t have the ability to edit video, planning is even more important. You’ll need to decide if you’ll do a non-stop walkthrough of the property with the camera or edit with the start/stop button. Either way, you’ll need a plan for the order of walkthrough or shots.

Learn to Count: This point primarily pertains to those that have an editing capability but also works well on planned shots without editing. For some reason, time seems to drag when you are shooting video and then you watch the same video and all of the scenes seem very short.  To maintain nice shots, I usually slowly count to at least 10 after starting to record before slowly panning or otherwise moving the camera. This works equally well for handheld shots and tripod shots. These times can always be modified editing.  While panning, I also usually count to 8-10 from the start of the pan to the end.  This usually gives some consistency to the viewer and avoids the dizzying “vacation video” effect.

– Make a Practice Video:  This could be a walkthrough dry run or an actual video that you shoot. You’ll be able to practice your narration and walkthrough plan.  Make changes where needed based on your practice run-through.  If you shot actual video, review it if possible before making the final version.  Look at it through the eyes of a customer.  Is it interesting? Does it show off the property? Many camcorders have a small window for previewing the video – this will be a good approximation for what the video will look like on a small screen.

Shoot More Video Than You Need: If you have the ability to edit, this point will go a long way to helping you make a successful video.  Plan on shooting at least 2-3 times the video that you need for a given project. That way you’ll have choices in the editing room and you can be sure that you have comprehensive coverage of the property.  Besides, you may be able to edit in something interesting that your original plan didn’t include.

– Track Your Video Segments: A notebook or small whiteboard can help you to keep to track of video scenes that you capture.  This isnt a requirement but it may help keep track of property features that you shoot.  Many rooms in a large unfurnished house may look alike especially if you have a number of properties on video.  You may find yourself thinking, “Is this Bedroom #2 or Bedroom #4?” after a few days.  To avoid this, I usually write at a minimum the property name, room name, and room dimensions on the whiteboard and shoot 5 seconds of video or so of the whiteboard before taking the actual shot. This 5 seconds gets edited out for the final video but the notes maintain a relatively permanent record of what follows.

Digg This Post Go to Part 2


  1. […] Aside from text translation, the ForSaleByLocals(tm) web engine will also drive the translation workflow of the audio portion of digital video. The example below is one of dozens of audio translations that CasaComprar.com (our spanish language flagship website) has done under license in support of real estate agencies with existing video. We are working to make production and posting of real estate video as simple as possible. The original audio portion was in Spanish and the video was broadcast live on a local daily real estate show. For the example, we translated the audio portion into English and Portuguese – we did not edit the video in any way or provide any graphics/animation support. […]

  2. […] now is the time to review all of the video that you have and begin to plan how your real estate video is actually going to come together.  Make simple notes of your shots and how you want to put the various shots together (use your original plan that you learned about in Part 1 of this series as a guide)  […]

  3. […] But it’s not necessarily all peaches and cream for Real Estate Agents.  The total flipside to Google Video making online videos easier for people, is that, google video is making online videos easier for people.  Before most Realty companies have adapted to changing technologies, expect to start seeing some competition from FSBO’s, as the video how to, is easily accessible to all (well….now it is).  I have already found one interesting mashup incorporating videos and Real Estate, and it’s available to anyone for free. […]

  4. Thank you for sharing this very useful information.

    That’s one of the things I love about ForSaleByLocals, good, useful information!

    I love that the real estate industry is changing, now we all have a new way to look at real estate (video listings) and it’s so GLOBAL too!

  5. […] Editing concepts are the theme of this fourth part of the series. If you’ve read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, you should already have an initial plan in place, editing package that meets your needs and budget, and good video to use in your editing. […]

  6. Cool guestbook!!!— [url=][/url]

  7. Buy home FSBO

    A Non-Professionals Guide To Making Real Estate Video

  8. Great stuff, I appreciate you sharing. Hopefully I’ll have some videos up on my site soon. Thanks for the tips.
    New York Real Estate

  9. Du musst ein Fachmann sein – wirklich guter Aufstellungsort, den du hast!

  10. Teaching TV Production, building a small-town program into a nationally recognized one. My students won over forty-five awards, including the National Association for Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Student Award of Excellence, the equivalent to a high school Emmy.

    All of this has taught me one thing that video is the here to stay, and if you learn the correct steps of video production you to can look like a professional, in a very short time. I am a long-time video professional for over twenty-five years, I seen it all and there are many new technologies that are in use today, but passion about creating the right look and feel are still the driving force behind great video production.

    Happy Videoing,


  11. wow, great

  12. Audio is 40% of a real estate video. The sounds at the property..a lake lapping against a shore, a boat, and a loon singing can transport the real estate buyer to the property instantly. You brand yourself, they hear your voice talking one on one as the tour guide to an area and a property the buyer has never been to before.

  13. Good advice to shoot more than you need so clips can be edited in, or replaced, left out depending n flow. You need a storyboard in your head of what you are going. Faster to shoot if it is already in your mind, editing goes way way faster too. You’re going to be doing many videos so you need to get Johnny on the spot efficient.

  14. Using the sellers, owners of Maine real estate to help tell the story. Hearing the water, the wind can transport the buyer to the waterfront property listing. Audio is 40% if a video. Hearing your voice and connecting with the broker is huge. So is showing how the property sits on the lot, how it is built, goes together. Video is one huge way to deliver property and area and brand information.

  15. Yikes the link evaporated!

  16. You’re a true pioneer, and your article contains some excellent advice. So good, I’d love to repost it in my blog! Let me know if that’s ok.

    All the best,

  17. You have to edit video. A slide show is not a video. And the audio is 40% of the real estate video experience.

  18. […] Source: Real Estate Locals […]

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