How to Use Real Estate Videos to Sell a Home, Not Just a House

Real estate marketing is heavily visual. Videos are a fantastic way to be a little more creative and informative than you can be with just the photos of the house. Listing walkthrough videos are excellent marketing pieces to have in your toolbox. However, sometimes it pays to add an additional step OUT of the toolbox. Here are a few ideas of how to be more helpful using real estate videos that will show off your listing and your commitment to serving your clients.

1.  Who are the people in your neighborhood? Think about not only showing the house but the businesses and public spaces that are accessible from your listing. Instead of just listing playgrounds close by – show a video (Tip: be sure there are no children in your videos that you do not have a release for). Is there a great walking trail or bike path? Show it off. Your potential buyers will get a better sense of the neighborhood and be more likely to tour the home.

2.  In this virtual age of pandemics and touring from home – here is another real estate video idea that is often missed… introduce yourself. Chat it up a little more. Talk about your experience, your dedication to client services and even go off track a little and talk about what you like in a home. Maybe give a little away about your track record. It’s ok to offer a few humble-brags.

3.  Go beyond parks and playgrounds and get real local. Camp out at the local coffee shop and speak with the owner and customers about what they love about the neighborhood. You can suggest that while they wait for the cable-person to set up the Wi-Fi, they may enjoy a local cup of joe and a chat while they get some work done.

4.  Is this your first sale? No? Then get some video from your past clients! Don’t ever overlook the power of a good client story or testimonial. Most testimonials are written out text on a website. Turn that content into a great real estate marketing video. Ask a few to record for you. There are several platforms like Tribute.co and VidDay that offer an easy way to have your clients record and allow for simple editing as well.

Going above and beyond doesn’t have to take a ton of time and effort but if you want to improve your real estate marketing videos, a few extra steps could really pay off for you. Use videos in your social media outreach, website, and especially email marketing. Your clients will appreciate your extra steps and dedication.


Choosing the Right Real Estate Virtual Tour

Studies have shown that the best marketing tactic for your listing is to incorporate a virtual tour. With the right real estate virtual tour, the road to successful sales is that much smoother. Often, we are asked how to choose the right real estate virtual tour for your listing. Here are some tips to know what is best for connecting with potential buyers.

• Does your listing have features that deserve a specific highlight that helps it stand out? A spectacular view from the deck? High vaulted ceilings? Whatever the highlight, the Interactive Floor Plan Tour + 360 Views is the right real estate virtual tour for you. This virtual tour provides the layout so you can see the whole property, but emphasis the best areas with the immersive component of a 3D Tour. Interactive Floor Plan Tours + 360 Views is the best combination of 3D, photos, and floor plans in one seamless product.

Using cutting-edge technology and HDR high-quality images, this unique product is sure to make a listing stand out. Many are familiar with our traditional, easy-to-use, Interactive Floor Plan Tours that embed photos to be displayed when hovering over labels and dots on the floor plan. The Interactive Floor Plan Tour + 360 Views takes it a step further in providing an immersive view. These tours include blue rotation icons embedded into the floor plan that when hovered over display a full 360 View of that room. The flexibility of this virtual tour is also an excellent choice for properties that might have a wide range in buyer demographics.

• The most immersive real estate virtual tour is the TruFusion 3D Tour. This option provides the feeling “like you’re there” and is the best property viewing experience of any 3D virtual tour. The TruFusion 3D Tour allows the potential buyer to explore the entire listing using Photo Slider Navigation, moving from room to room and floor to floor. This virtual tour provides a 3D view of each level of the home. While this tour does not come with a floor plan or photos of the property, it does include enhanced interior colors and clear views out the windows all with HDR quality. The TruFusion 3D Tour works well on iPhone, iPad, or touch screen/touchpads.

• TruPlace’s Interactive Floor Plan Tours display cleanly and easily on a shared screen. They allow the presenter to hover over embedded photos within each room, so they are perfect for Virtual Open Houses. The Interactive Floor Plan Tour is the right real estate virtual tour option to provide a potential buyer or client an easy way to navigate the listing. Unlike many 3D Virtual Tours which can be challenging to navigate, Interactive Floor Plan Tours are known for their ease of use and organization. The great thing about purchasing an Interactive Floor Plan Tour from TruPlace is that it comes with all the photos to showcase the property. There is no need to pay for or schedule a separate appointment. This interactive, user-driven experience of a property shows the layout of the floor plan and allows viewers to navigate at their own pace through each room.

Each virtual tour is hosted on a branded and non-branded Single Property Website URL for MLS compliance. This website also has tabs offering more information about the property, including a map location, personalized lead capture form, and complimentary amenity photos of the surrounding community or subdivision.

Choosing the right tour can make a difference in many factors of the sale. TruPlace is available to help you find the right real estate virtual tour for your listings. We understand the client experience and are adept at matching that with the listing goals. Which virtual tour is right for you?


Top Tip for Impressive Real Estate Photography

Here is the tip: Hire a real estate photographer

The only tip a beginner or veteran real estate agent needs when it comes to photos for a property listing in real estate is to hire a professional real estate photographer.

A New Way of Selling

Real estate photography has never been more crucial to a property listing than is it right now.  Gone are the days of heavily attended open houses. Many people are still timid about venturing out. As the real estate industry moves toward a predominately digital experience, professional photos produced by a professional photographer are one of the most important selling pieces in the marketing toolbox.

Quality Matters

While smartphones are making leaps and bounds in technology, a professional real estate photographer is more experienced at creating the desired engagement and results. High resolution professional photos help you sell your listing faster and for $3,000- $11,000 more than homes with standard photos. It is proven that professional photographs outperform amateur photographs every time. Using today’s advanced DSLR cameras with larger sensors with more pixels, better controls, and interchangeable lenses easily outperform amateur photos.

It also takes an experienced professional to understand and know room angles, lighting, and highlight the spaces that appeal most to visitors. A real estate photographer has the experience necessary to know not only angles, but also ideal camera heights and lighting. The photographer will know which aperture priority to use depending on the amount of natural light in order to make the room look better. Things that an average person or other photographers may not be readily adept at catching.

After the Shoot

Post-production editing skills are a key part of the process that a real estate photographer will also possess. Enhancements can be made after the shoot to items such as the image on TVs, fires in fireplaces, and any other moving pieces that would not photograph very well. Most professionals will turn these elements off when shooting to prevent blur. However, using post-production technology, images can be added to TVs, fires can be added to fireplaces, pool water can be made a more inviting blue, the grass greener, and the sky can be transformed to sunny blue, even from a cloudy shooting day. While not appropriate for cosmetic enhancements that “fool” the viewer, this technology is very useful (and ethical) for enhancing things that come and go. It is important to note that professionals will also have a quick turn-around time for fully-edited images so that your listing process has no delays. TruPlace guarantees next-business-day turn-around on all photography packages and virtual tours. Less time waiting means more options!

If the overall goal is to entice a homebuyer and have your listing stand out with impressive real estate photography, then yes, a professional real estate photographer is a key to success.


3 Reasons Floor Plans Are Great Virtual Tours

The interactive floor plan tour addresses multiple issues with a single product. Whether searching for a home to buy or a vacation property to rent, the average shopper is searching dozens if not hundreds of listings – up to five a day. If you combine that with the fact that the brain can process images in less than 13 milliseconds, then the importance of providing clear, distinct visuals on a property becomes a top priority.

1. Move properties quicker.

Virtual tours are known to draw in offers faster and even allow for sight unseen purchases. When open houses were suspended in many states, real estate remained an essential service. When in-person schooling went all virtual, short term rentals and vacation properties reached capacity. When time is of the essence, information is critical.

Providing property information, such as that which is provided in the floor plan tour, can bring in offers faster, bring in higher offers and reduce time spent showing the property to buyers who are not a good fit. What makes the floor plan tour different from other tours is the ease of use in combination with the detailed visual information. No other tour product combines the size of the room with the photo of what the room looks like in one glance.

2. Increase shopper satisfaction ratings and reduce bad leads.

Time is of the essence for both real estate agents and reservation agents. If the viewer sees that the layout of the property will not work for them, that saves a ton of time for both the user and the agent. Quickly discovering what will not work is just as important as learning what will. The Interactive Floor Plan Tour is the easiest way to see where rooms and features are with relation to other areas of the property.

Several agents have told TruPlace that the floor plans have saved their clients time by weeding out properties that will not work for them. And reservation agents have reported a 30% reduction in guest questions by providing this information up front to potential guests.

3. Communicate a lot of information in a small amount of space.

The Mortgage Reports states that home buying selection happens mainly on two things:

  • Is this a good value
  • Will this work for me?

The second question gets answered using the Interactive Floor Plan Tour. An Interactive Floor Plan Tour communicates quickly and easily whether or not this property will work for the person viewing it.

These days, deciding to view a property in person is not taken lightly. Providing layout information in addition to the images informs the person viewing hundreds of properties of the details they need to know to make a decision.

Most property website pages have to convey a lot of information about the property on one page, knowing the viewer’s attention space is very short. The viewer will likely look at these details in this order:

  • Bedroom count
  • Location
  • Price
  • Photos

Knowing that viewers can filter by bedroom count, location and price, the most important element on that property’s page will be the visuals. Without much room to convince the view to look further, the Interactive Floor Plan Tour is the best use of this space.


The Best Website Experience for Vacation Rental Companies to Give their Guests

How many vacation rental companies have mapped out their guest’s experiences from the “search” start? How many of them put themselves in their guest’s shoes and take a long, hard look at their website, on desktop and mobile?

With 50% of website traffic coming from a mobile device, and likely first-time users are higher than that, it’s critical to make sure the visuals and navigation are optimized for this experience.

In Google Analytics, which is where most of this data is accessed, visitors to a website are called users and their visit is called a session. How quickly users leave their session is called a bounce. If users leave their session quickly, that’s bad. That’s a high bounce rate. You want users to stay and look around for awhile. Longer session durations lead to conversions and conversions are bookings. And bookings are revenue.

Great visuals in a great user experience will attract new users, increase their total number of sessions and keep them from bouncing.

Here are three visuals for vacation rental companies to check on the mobile version of their websites.

High Quality Photography That’s Easy to See

Some property managers spend a huge part of their marketing budget on photography and then don’t check the mobile version to see that it’s not showing the whole image. Users should be able to see the exteriors and interiors quickly and easily. These are the photographs that will sell them on the property. Looking at these photographs should inspire them to look for additional information on the property page.

Property Layout That’s Easy to Navigate

This is a new era in vacation rental history. Photography along is no longer enough. Thanks to the pandemic and the evolution of virtual tour technology, guests want to see the layout of the property. This detail is increasingly important as the duration of stays become longer and the type of experience the guest is looking to have becomes more diverse. Short-term stays are now working stays, learning stays, and not just vacation stays. When multiple generations use these trips as the only time they might see each other in person, it’s so helpful to know how far the bathrooms are from the pool, or how close the Wi-Fi router is to a desk. Is all of this information easy to navigate to on a mobile device? It should be. Competitors in top beach and mountain markets working with TruPlace already have many of these features in place.

What’s Around the Property?

Since guests won’t spend their entire time on the property they are renting, they will want to quickly and easily find out what else is nearby. If this is hard to do on the mobile version of a vacation rental website, the user is likely to bounce at this point. Some property managers have figured out how to use photographs to tell a story, provide more information, and keep users on their property pages longer. For example, one company in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, added photos of bikes being stored in a closet on the ground floor of the property to their floor plan tour. This showed the guests where they could locate the bikes when they arrived. At the end of the photo carousel showing the property were photos showing local bike paths right outside the house, and a bike rack near shops where they could store bikes while getting lunch and shopping.

If the user has a good experience visually with all three of these areas, Google Analytics is likely to show a desktop session from the same user a short time later. That’s when the rates and calendar of availability will be important. But if the user never makes it past the virtual tour because it’s not displaying correctly, they’re a lot less likely to stay on the property and book.

The reality is the most guests browse on a mobile device and book on a desktop – for now. Vacation rental companies should make sure their visuals are not only optimized for desktop, but for iPads and iPhones as well. A good user experience on the website won’t just lead to lower bounce rates, it will also lead to repeat bookings.


Spirit of VR Roadshow: Last Stop, The Florida Panhandle

As a record-breaking named storm named Eta hoovered in the Gulf of Mexico near South Florida, the Spirit of VR Roadshow, a first-of-its-kind industry event, gathered in Panama City Beach. This would be the final area for the event, which had started in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Not only had the hurricane season been unusually active, but COVID-19 cases were increasing and a major election had not gone the way most residents in the panhandle had hoped. Despite all these tensions, property managers were still willing to come out and meet, to talk about what challenges their guests were facing (and causing).

The Spirit of VR Roadshow

Spirit of VR Roadshow Sponsors (TruPlace, Xplorie, Silicon Travel, Beyond Pricing, RealTech, and Brivo)

On Nov. 9, 2020, the Xplorie-driven van pulled into the waterfront venue of Papa Joe’s Bayside, which is now an outdoor event space that held nearly 500 people over the summer. With beach chairs, fire pits, food trucks and even a football goal post, the space felt tropical and relaxing. And relaxation was one thing vacation rental managers in this area were ready for. As of the event, most of them were still at 50% occupancy, and it wasn’t due the recent influx of IronMan participants. “That’s just how things have been going,” said one manager who has about 148 rentals. “We have not slowed down since Labor Day like usual.”

Like Usual?

Nothing about 2020 will be referenced as “like usual.” The Sheraton in PCB was at 70% occupancy the first week of November, which has never happened in its 34-year history. One waitress at Sharky’s beachfront bar and grill, which boasts a large outdoor seating area where you can step on the sand from your table, ended the summer with more than $20,000 in tips.

Another rental manager said she had to go knock on doors of the FEMA trailers, which are still occupied with victims of Hurricane Michael, looking for cleaning crew help because she couldn’t turn over the units fast enough for new guests. Several crews working in the industry to clean vacation rentals had tripled their prices over the summer as well. Some property managers still recovering from Hurricane Sally received visits from event sponsor, Silicon, which helped them repair or replace damaged routers.

No Longer a Secret

What was once known as Florida’s best kept secret, the turquoise waters and white sand beaches off 30A became (and stayed) a respite for those who had been pent up for too long. Boasting a healthy mix of single family homes, townhomes and condos, the rentals near Miramar saw record-breaking numbers right up until Halloween. With no mask mandates and 100% capacity at restaurants, this location was just what drive-to guests were looking for.

The Grand Sandestin, a sprawling 2,400-acre resort town, where the last stop on the roadshow gathered to meet, welcomed several managers to enjoy Hammerheads Creole cooking, cold brews and a demonstration of Xplorie’s new Alexa-powered guest experience. The voice-powered program allows guests to ask Alexa for everything from the WiFi password to recommendations for local restaurants and entertainment. Event sponsor Brivo, formerly known as Parakeet, was also on hand to share ways their locking system can help in contactless ways.

New Normal

TruPlace's Rebecca Lombardo and Greg Manson at the Spirit of VR Roadshow

TruPlace’s Rebecca Lombardo and Greg Manson at the Spirit of VR Roadshow

Standing outside that evening of the last stop in Destin, FL, one would hardly know there was a global pandemic occurring. People were calm walking around the outdoor shops and restaurants, enjoying the sunset from their balconies, and pushing strollers through the wide Baytown Wharf walkways.

Hearing from the vacation rental property managers in this area, it’s easy to understand how 2020 impacted each area very differently. These folks were thankful for how they had come through it, so far. And for those of us meeting with them face to face, we were grateful they were able to come out and chat for a few hours.

After all, hearing from Seashore Vacations that the manager, who also runs the front desk, has a layaway program and tells prospective guests he’s got properties for every budget: Chevy, GMC, and Cadillac, is just something that doesn’t translate well over Zoom.