Real Estate Stars on YouTube

Yes, it is a fact. About 80% of homebuyers begin their search on the
Internet. Linking press releases with video on YouTube gives us a new
way to engage a prospect and ultimately close a sale. The article, YouTube: A Modern Take on Real Estate Technology covers some excellent points about new technology adaptations influencing luxury real estate including YouTube.

YouTube: A Modern Take on Real Estate Technology

By Kayla O’Brien

RISMEDIA, June 20, 2007-While it’s already a known fact that about
80% of home buyers begin their search on the Internet, there’s still a
large demand for originality among real estate Web sites. Virtual
tours, mapping technology, and neighborhood guides seem like a step in
the right direction, but agents are in need of a new differentiator.
That said, agents who want to lead the pack have begun creating
engaging videos, utilizing YouTube and other online marketing vehicles
to generate leads and ultimately close sales. Featuring qualities that
can’t be captured by still photos, these videos are the latest
cost-efficient marketing tool and they’re not alone. Thomas Harpointer,
CEO and founder of AIS Media, an Internet consulting company, discusses
the in’s and out’s of this new trend and what else we can expect over
the next year in leading technologies.

RE: As an expert in online marketing, can you explain how you feel the Internet is going to drive real estate sales in the future?

Thomas Harpointer: The big driving force behind the
evolution of real estate Web sites right now is Web 2.0. Web sites have
made the transformation from informational- driven brochures to
critical business tools, so the average broker’s role is going to
continue to grow in terms of technology and the Internet as agents,
brokers, and developers are starting to see the value of Web sites.
Buyers can peruse hundreds of homes on the Internet before hitting the
streets with brokers-helping to make their jobs more efficient.

Video is a key component to raise the bar, and a few years from now
it will be expected. Many agents are receiving the majority of leads
from the Internet, which is less work for them. The more tools that are
provided for the buyer, the more properties will be moved in a shorter
period of time.

RE: Tell me more about the concept of combining the
forces of real estate and YouTube. What advice can you offer to those
who are interested in utilizing YouTube?

TH: It’s still very new, which offers tremendous
advantage. Agents and brokers can create videos and post them on
YouTube as a hook into their Web site, driving traffic they wouldn’t
normally have. Plus, if you search a term on Google, there’s massive
competition, but there’s only 500 results for the same term on YouTube,
making you a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

Videos offer opportunities to highlight areas of the home, adding a
whole new dimension. With the equipment available today, you don’t need
to spend thousands of dollars on a camera. You can take shots, hand the
content over to someone who can edit it for a few hundred dollars, and
make a decent video.

Start by shooting on a nice day, turn the lights on and let the
house sell itself. Before you shoot, bullet out key features of the
property. No two properties are the same, so list everything that you
think is important to a potential buyer. Don’t waste content on a new
water heater, you can list that, but what about a back door terrace
that overlooks a stream? That’s exciting. Pick the top five elements
and remember that a video is much bigger in size, takes more time to
load. Some videos are 42 seconds while some run for a couple of
minutes. It’s up to the agent as to how long and comprehensive they are.

If a narrator has a good voice they can speak, but that’s upon
discretion. Keep it short, to the point, incorporate sound, use
lighting and be honest. Always remember the purpose of the video-a lead
generator.

When you create a video, add a watermark with your Web site address
to the bottom of the video, so you can get credit back to your Web site
and help marketing efforts. The name of the video should be a relevant
name, rather than “movie1.” Name it “Pompano Beachfront Property” so
that when it’s uploaded, Google will index the movie file name since
search engines search content for keywords, whether it’s picture or
video. Put your phone number at the end of the video, and give the
option for people to visit your Web site for more information.

RE: Do you feel these productions provide a substantial return on investment?

TH: There are two primary costs-the production cost
and the broadcasting of the content. Production varies from a couple
thousand to $10 to 20 thousand to produce, but if we were to run it on
TV, we’d be paying thousands more. Start at the top, take the most
expensive home, and it will have the biggest payoff potential. Instead
of investing in newspapers or new office furniture, agents should focus
on electronic media which is of higher value to customers.

RE: How does the development of Internet videos as
a lead generation tool change the consumer’s home buying and selling
experience? Do you feel these videos will replace the open house or the
role of the broker/agent in the future?

TH: It’s more exciting for the consumer. A video
creates the perception of reputation, quality of service, and good
strength. The best way to illustrate that is through a Web site, since
very few buyers initially walk into an office. They’ll do their
research online, limit the properties they want to see, and then make
an appointment to see those properties.

Open houses are going to continue to grow because buyers will still
need an agent. The Web is wonderful, but it won’t replace personal
interaction. There will also be more people at open houses. You can
advertise to the world through YouTube, expanding it to a much bigger
market. No one’s going to buy the house just by looking at the video,
but the more people we reach, the more that should show up.

Brokers and agents are of bigger use than ever before. Eighty-one
percent of those who use the Internet to look for a home also use an
agent. For example, in 1991, 19% of sellers sold their home without an
agent, compared to last year’s 13%.

RE: In addition to the creation of YouTube videos,
what other technology do you expect to see within the real estate
industry in the latter half of 2007?

TH: Mobile phones today have many capabilities-some
have video, most have text. Few real estate sites take advantage of
that, so we will see that in the second half of 2007.

The two most cost effective ways to draw people to Web sites are
through e-mail and RSS feeds. RSS blasts instantly drive traffic and
agents can do it. Once you have an e-mail address, you can update and
push information to visitors instead of waiting for them to come back
to your site. The magic behind RSS is that if people subscribe to that
feed, the moment you update your site, they’ll instantly receive
notification without the agent having to make an announcement.

RSS is going to expand threefold by 2008; it doesn’t cost anything
but time and knowledge. It’s overwhelming, but keep an open mind and
approach it with baby steps. If a video is going to be produced,
produce higher values first and get user feedback. A Web site is a
tool; the more you use it, the better you get at it. In order for it to
continue to work, it should improve over time.

Companies like AIS and other partners are there to work with
businesses one-on-one, to help understand the process of establishing
Web presence, become comfortable with Web technologies and grow as they
need. To effectively compete, there’s no way around it.

RE: Why should interested agents act now if this is of interest to them?

TH: It’s a very easy way to stand out from the
pact. Today video is exciting and the number one selling point is that
it helps you stand out from the pack-few sites are doing it. Buyers and
sellers love technology and want to feel confident when they elect a
professional and value is in the technology and sophistication of a Web
site. People form an opinion of a Web site in less than 30 seconds.

At this point, if agents have a basic site, it puts them behind
against competitor sites with virtual tours. Everyone resists change at
first. Not everyone had an e-mail address or Web site at first, but
it’s something that people expect now. Professionals that are serious
will need to embrace this technology-Web 2.0, video, and RSS feeds. I
would encourage agents to contact a professional Internet consultant to
help them make sense of all of this-update their Web site and get up to
speed on YouTube. Once you understand it, you’ll understand it always.

For more information, visit www.AISmedia.com.

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