Video Podcasts: Show off the House and Yourself

Capture more listings and attract more buyers with video podcasts that put you on the cutting edge of innovation.

November 1, 2006

Want a reputation as a tech innovator — the first to employ leading-edge technology in your market?

Then start using and talking up video podcasts as a new option in virtual tours. Already a small but savvy share of real estate professionals promotes select listings with these brief multimedia programs. They’ve found video podcasts more effective than conventional tours for winnowing serious buyers from casual shoppers.

At the same time, the strategy is proving effective in capturing listings and demonstrating to sellers that their homes will be marketed with all the latest bells and whistles.

In fact, the potential of video podcasts could rival the Web-based photo tour, which quickly became a standard tool of the trade. I covered real estate technology when Web-based photo tours were a new concept in marketing services and involved 360-degree immersive imaging technology. Early adopters enjoyed a competitive advantage and a short-lived window of opportunity to distinguish themselves as market leaders.

I see the same kind of potential for video podcasts for several reasons, not the least of which is the whole notion of podcasts. Apple Computer’s success with its iPod family of media players has helped establish “podcast” as a generic term for files of recorded information. If you’re not sure what a podcast is, ask anyone under 30; the concept is that well entrenched.

Why Video Podcast?

Initially, podcasts were only in audio: articles, commentary, courses, even books contained in a file that you could listen to at leisure, over the Internet, or download for playback later on with your player of choice.

That’s an important distinction to make. You don’t need an iPod to play a podcast. Podcasts can be played on computers, multimedia players (of which the iPod is most popular), as well as smartphones with video playback features.

Now, combine the audio with video, and you’ve got a portable presentation — instantly accessible in hand or online for highlighting a home’s appeal. Although it’s true some virtual tour providers have always offered a video option, they’ve never generated the buzz to take it mainstream.

Rename the video tour a “video podcast,” however, and the ears of those in the know will suddenly perk up.

“I’ve been able to reduce my showings by 90 percent — to only those people who are really seriously interested in a home,” reports Jorge Guerra, broker-owner of Real Estate Sales Force in Miami. “With a video podcast, I can show them a lot more about the house and its layout and flow than you get looking at pictures in a regular virtual tour.”

Do It Yourself

Guerra first recognized the potential of video podcasts for real estate more than a year ago, but there were no vendors offering the solution he wanted. To start creating his own video podcasts, he enrolled in an online course in video production and invested approximately $6,000 in a professional digital video camcorder, a MacBook Pro computer, and Final Cut Pro video editing software.

His podcasts clock at anywhere from two to five minutes and combine filmed images of the home with a soundtrack and spoken narration. He uploads the podcasts on free hosting sites such as Google video and YouTube, and then links to them on his Web site and in e-mails to clients.

“I try to capture the feel of MTV Cribs, where you’re walking through the house,” he says. “It’s not that easy to do, not like taking pictures. You need the right angles and lighting, and the technology itself can be very intimidating.”

What to Consider

Creating an effective podcast entails more challenges than building a virtual tour from digital photos. Pulling it off will require some guidance from someone with experience recording video, editing, and formatting it for distribution. Or you may want to hand the entire project to a professional.

Already, a couple of companies promoting video podcast services, and competition in this area will surely grow.

“People who understand technology and want to remain on the cutting edge have been the first to adopt it,” says Rodney Rumford, an owner of the Real Estate Buzz Box property marketing platform.

Here are two companies that are helping real estate professionals create video podcasts:

  • Real Estate Buzz. Subscribers to Real Estate Buzz receive training by phone on how to build podcasts, which the service then hosts, publishes to Web video portals, and promotes through search engine optimization. There’s a $500 account set up fee and monthly subscription of $329. (See sample Real Estate Buzz podcasts.)
  • Rede Technologies. Rede Technologies offers turnkey “Redecast” services, a 90-second podcast virtual tour created from photos, video, and descriptive information in the broker MLS sheet. Two options are available: a $74.99 package with a music soundtrack or a $99.99 package that adds a voice-over track describing home features. (See a sample Rede Technologies tour.)

Give Yourself the Advantage

“The biggest advantage to video podcasts is they take virtual tours off the computer and put them in portable devices,” says Caroline Trude-Rede, president of Rede Technologies. “That’s something you can take with you and use as a tool to promote your listings and advertise your services.”

Certainly, not all homes will merit video podcast treatment. Nevertheless, “for high-end properties — anything over $1 million — it’s going to be something every seller will expect,” Guerras predicts.

When you can demonstrate and offer this option, you say a lot about you and your services and shape perceptions in ways that could help capture more listings and attract more buyers.