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This article was published on: 05/01/2007


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If a picture is worth a thousand words, just think of the sheer effectiveness of a movie in selling your listings. Recent upgrades in video technology have made videos easy to edit, upload to a computer, and distribute online. And unlike traditional virtual tours, which present a series of still photos, video tours deliver a self-contained commercial or mini movie, complete with soundtrack or narration. In addition, more households than ever are now equipped with broadband service to support the extra bandwidth streaming videos require.

Residential associate Dave Weiss, of Prudential Preferred Properties in Chicago, has found that he can more quickly nab prospects’ attention with video, which he posts on his Web site and distributes on mini CDs to customers. He pulls still photos from a video tour and stitches them together to create a short video. He adds pan and zoom effects, descriptive text, and music. Total time invested: less than two hours.

To stay ahead of his competition, Richard Marcus, broker-owner of Partners Realty in Middleton, Del., creates video open house tours. He uses a tripod-mounted Canon DV camcorder to capture video of his listings and client testimonials and then edits the recordings, in Windows Movie Maker, into three- or four-minute clips. hosts the videos for $29.95 per month. “It’s helped me get other listings,” Marcus says.

In Williamsville, N.Y., Karen Ginter, e-PROŽ, of Realty U.S.A., takes another approach to video: When a prospect e-mails her about her services or listings, she responds with a video e-mail, which contains a link to a short clip introducing herself. The video, captured with her webcam, resides on, a digital media hosting company.

“Today, a video tour is on the leading edge,” says TJ Tutor, a specialist in luxury homes with Coldwell Banker Prime Properties in Fayetteville, N.Y. “But five years from now, buyers will be demanding it.”

5 Ways to Use Video

1. E-mail. In e-mail responses to prospects, embed a link to a video that showcases a listing or you and your services.

2. Tours and testimonials. Highlight a home’s location, view, layout, and charm. Testimonials from happy clients say more about your service than mere text quotes.

3. Community showcase. Establish your local expertise with clips about the area, its landmarks, and events.

4. Presentations. During listing appointments, demonstrate to potential clients how you use video in your marketing campaign.

5. Handouts. Offer mini CDs and DVDs with a video tour of a property, testimonials, and a description of your services.

Video Essentials

To add video to your marketing, you need the following:
  • A reliable camera. A digital camera—one that includes video capability with a “movie mode” of 24 frames per second or more—is good enough for most tours. Camcorders provide higher quality, recording videos at 30 fps. Experts recommend a camera with image stabilization for a steady shot, a tripod, and possibly lighting equipment for shooting interiors.
  • Video or movie editing software. It can help you rearrange the order of raw footage and add special effects, transitions, and a soundtrack. Save the video in a format compatible with most browsers—such as Flash or MPEG—to create a video podcast or burn it to a DVD.
  • Hosting. Video files can be large and tie up a Web server. So you’ll likely want a host server for sharing videos online. Some hosts are fee-based; sites like YouTube, Google Video, and currently offer free video hosting.
  • Links and players. These allow you to display videos on the Web. Some services provide a player for Web pages so that the video plays right on a page; others provide a URL that links to their site.

Video Capture Options

Pure Digital Point & Shoot Camcorder $129.99 Pure Digital,, 415/445-7626. Inexpensive option for capturing video to upload to the Web. Includes 30-minute capacity, 1.4-inch LCD display, and software for viewing, sharing, and archiving recordings. Also features USB connector, so you can capture video to a Mac or Windows PC. Internal software supports sharing on Google Video and Grouper Web sites or distributing via e-mail. Sixty-minute recording version also available.

Photosmart R967 $349.99 Hewlett-Packard,, 800/888-8177 (code NAR1). Compact digital camera records video at VGA (640- by 480-pixel) resolution. Includes 8.2-megapixel image sensor to capture still images, 3X optical zoom lens, and 3-inch LCD display. Compatible with Secure Digital media cards. Movie mode records 24 frames per second. USB 2.0 compatible for capturing movies and transferring photos on to a computer.

PowerShot S3 IS $499.99 Canon U.S.A.,, 800/652-2666. A 6MP digital camera with a 12X optical zoom and movie mode. Includes 2-inch swing-out LCD display and image stabilization in still and movie modes. Captures still images while recording video. Boasts VGA and QVGA (320- by 240-pixel) resolutions at 15 to 60 fps. Stereo sound recording. USB 2.0 compatible.

DCR-DVD508 $900 Sony Electronics,, 800/222-7669. DVD digital camcorder and 6MP digital still camera. Records video and captures photos onto 3-inch mini-DVDs. Includes a 10X optical zoom lens, 2.7-inch swing-out widescreen display, and image stabilization. Captures 4.6MP still images while recording video. Compatible with Sony Memory Stick media.

Video Editing Software

iMovie HD Bundled with Apple Macintosh PCs Apple Inc.,, 800/692-7753. Digital movie editing and production software included in iLife digital content creation suite. Includes movie themes, special effects, titling, transitions, and audio features for adding and enhancing soundtrack. Publish on a Web site or as podcasts. Integrates with other iLife applications—iPhoto, iWeb, iDVD, and the GarageBand digital recording studio.

Corel Ulead VideoStudio 11 $89.99 Corel Corp.,, 800/772-6735. Version 11 due in May. Video editing and DVD authoring solution for Windows. MovieWizard guides users though editing process with automated features and templates. Includes library of special effects, transitions, and titles. Compatible with high-definition video. Supports sharing video on mobile devices, including Apple iPod and video-enabled cell phones, and creating high-definition DVDs.

Premiere Elements 3.0 $99.99 Adobe Systems,, 800/833-6687. Digital video software for Windows. Imports and exports video in all popular formats for a range of digital devices, including camera phones. Easy editing with range of special effects and transitions. Users can add voice-over narration, soundtrack, or text to video. Publish to DVD or the Web or share on portable media devices. Macintosh version available. Also bundled with Photoshop Elements imaging software for $149.

Windows Movie Maker Bundled with some versions of Windows XP and Vista operating systems Microsoft Corp.,, 800/642-7676. Digital video editing and sharing solution. Editing features include themes, transitions, and special effects. Integrates with Windows Photo Gallery for managing movie archives. Share movies by e-mail, publish them to the Web, or burn to DVD with Windows DVD Maker.

Video Hosting Services/Solutions

MLPodcast $39.95 set-up fee; $39.95 per video tour; $10 for professional narration, 832/257-9020. Create a video tour with music soundtrack from photos and information you submit. Hosts tour for six months and provides links to tours for a Web site and on local MLS. Includes software that displays video podcast on Web site or blog. Distributes video podcasts to popular podcast directories.

The Real Estate Home Show $79, 800/411-4471. Turnkey option for creating and hosting video tours. Company creates 40-second video commercial from submitted photos and information. Each tour contains four to six property photos, music soundtrack, property information, MLS number, company logo, personal photo, and contact information.

Voyager Video QuickStart Toolkit $379 for package; $289 monthly hosting fee for unlimited number of tours Voyager International,, 866/902-3600. Entry-level software suite for creating, uploading, and hosting videos recorded with your equipment. Includes an e-book guide to producing and editing videos. Software compresses and converts QuickTime or AVI formats to Flash for uploading videos to a host server and then linking to Web sites. Recording equipment/software bundles available.

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