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Emotional Storytelling for Your Real Estate Videos

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By Doug Gritzmacher

Creative Director, Z-Channel Films, Denver, Colorado Google+

What do people buy on?

Hint: It’s not price.

It’s emotion.

This is why every car commercial appeals to you with big, bold shots about how sexy looking their car is, or the amazing adventures you could be having with it, or the exotic places you could be with it.

But for some reason that’s not what happens in residential luxury real estate videos. Why?

Hint: It’s not emotion.

It’s price.

Residential real estate agents consistently shop for video production services based on price. What does this get you? Recently I had the opportunity to find out.

We were contacted by a local residential real estate agent in Denver. She had a million dollar property that had been on the market for over a year in Evergreen, a small town west of Denver in the mountains. She was the second agent to take on the listing and was determined to get it sold. So she went looking for ways to make it stand out and found us.

When we talked to her she revealed to us that she had already commissioned a video from another company but she was unhappy with the results. I asked to see it so we could get a sense of how she wanted to improve upon it.

I found out pretty quickly why she was unhappy — the drone movements were choppy, not smooth; the angles were repetitive; the video resolution quality was poor; the shadow areas were completely black with blown-out highlights; and, most importantly, there was no emotional storytelling to be found — even with music included.

This video is not unique. Companies making these poor quality videos exist anywhere there is real estate and they make these videos by charging cut-rate prices. For a few hundred dollars one of these outfits will come to your property and do a walk-through video and still photography.

That’s a pretty enticing deal to a residential real estate agent who is most likely paying for their marketing materials, including video, out of their commission. This is why most agents are shopping for video based on price.

And what you get is a video incapable of moving a buyer emotionally. This is simply because these low-quality production companies can’t afford top-of-the-line gear and they don’t have time for imagination — a prerequisite for storytelling. At their low rates they need to work on volume to make enough money to stay in business. I found a one-person company in upstate New York who will do video shoots at eight different properties in one day. When you hire one of these outfits, your video becomes just one more in their assembly line.

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“Absolutely outstanding work. I elected to work with Doug and Z-Channel Films for a real estate property shoot. Tired of the ‘same old-same old’ pasted together ‘videos’ of still shots, I wanted something that really stood out and was memorable. Doug and his team NAILED IT. With what could only be accomplished through the eye of a true artist, Doug managed to capture the essence and the feel of the property in what the owner called a “breath taking” video. This is NOT your run of the mill video; this is amazing quality with eye for detail and a far superior product. I will definitely be calling Doug again. Amazing.”

— Stephanie Cone, HomeSmart Cherry Creek, Colorado

______________

 

I wrote above that buyers buy on emotion. So what might happen if you shopped less on price alone and more on production companies that can deliver videos capable of moving buyers emotionally? Maybe you could incite a bidding war, which could lead to a sale above asking price. Maybe you could sell the property twice as fast, which would let you focus on closing other properties. In both cases, you spend more but also stand to make more, perhaps substantially more.

This is what the agent who contacted us was after. She wanted a video that would move buyers and she found examples of that in our portfolio. And she was willing to pay to get that for her property.

Our rates are higher because we don’t work on volume. We put a lot of time, effort, and thought into every project we take on, whether it’s a documentary for DirecTV or Netflix, a corporate video for FirstBank, or a video for a real estate listing. Our backgrounds are in storytelling. It’s in our DNA, it’s our brand, and it’s the central element in every project we produce.


Luxury lifestyle video for a property near Colorado Springs produced by Z-Channel Films.

 

INGREDIENTS FOR A MOVING REAL ESTATE VIDEO

That’s great, you’re thinking, but this is real estate. How do you make a story out of a house?

You could ask the same question about a car. But we see over and over that that can be done and done very effectively. For us, the execution boils down to a few key ingredients.

PRODUCTION VALUE

As with any successful job, you have to start with the right tools. For real estate videos, that definitely includes a drone. Not all drones and the cameras they come with are created equal. “You get what you pay for” is truth when it comes to video production equipment. Cheaper gear is going to lead to a lower quality look that is going to lead to less credibility.

Credibility is essential for engaging viewers on an emotional level. That’s why we invest in high quality drones and cameras. We also work with two-person drone teams. This allows for one person to focus on piloting the drone and the other to focus on camera movements. This results in camera movements that are smooth and move independent of the drone’s flight path, resulting in higher quality and more cinematic-looking visuals. It is also safer.

But aerial shots alone are not always enough to tell a story. All of our videos also include ground-level shots. For this we use a gimbal-system that allows us to get smooth, dynamic camera movements like you might see in a Hollywood movie.

ACTORS

Humans might be the most social species on Earth. We are designed to be around other people. We express this need in our viewing habits by connecting with other humans on the screen. Stylized shots of the property can go a long way, but nothing compares to the power of actors for creating memorable moments.

FEATURES

What are the unique features of the property? This is something we discuss in detail with agents when planning our shoots. The keyword here is lifestyle. What kind of lifestyle will a buyer get to lead if they bought this property? Will they be able to step out their door onto a private golf course and then come home to soak their sore muscles in a hot tub on the patio? Will there be acres of land available to raise horses or build a nursery for plants? How about a pool for having summer pool parties with friends? We use our actors interacting with these features to make them memorable and desirable.

EDITING

This is the final stage where all the above ingredients are assembled into a cohesive story. We add additional storytelling elements like slick graphics and professional music.

This was approach we used for the agent with the year-old listing in Evergreen. She needed a video that was going to impress buyers and move them to desire the property and we were happy to deliver that for her.

As for your next million-dollar plus listing, instead of going with the usual — admittedly cheap — walk-through video, consider investing in something of higher quality. Your wallet and your client might thank you.

Find our more about our luxury lifestyle real estate video production services in Denver. 

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