PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
News

Real estate sellers shoot for YouTube hits

Mary Umberger
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

CHICAGO -- Find your next home on YouTube.

That's the latest promise of the phenomenally popular Internet video site and its brethren, where, in addition to viewing such cultural treasures as wedding bloopers and clips from "The Simpsons," you can shop for real estate these days.

From slick, cinematic productions touting waterfront castles to underlit, homemade tours of modest condos, real-estate marketers are eyeing online video as the next way to capture that increasingly elusive creature, the homebuyer.

"I was thinking about that somebody who's just scrolling through (video sites) late at night and types in the words `real estate' and `Chicago' and says, `Let's see what pops up,'" said Dina Davis, a Coldwell Banker agent in Evanston, Ill., who made a video of a townhouse listing and stuck it on YouTube.com.

After two months and a paltry 45 viewings, the townhouse is still available.

"I didn't think we'd get tons of business from it," Davis said. "It's another avenue, another option for marketing. I just hoped to pique someone's interest."

Still, the experience at least has whet her appetite, and she's preparing another video tour, of an Evanston condo.

Once posted, it will find itself increasingly in crowded company: Analysts say the practice, though in its infancy, is beginning to boom and new sites are vying to become "the YouTube of real estate."

Just how many real estate videos are claiming a spot in cyberspace is hard to quantify because such general-interest video meccas as YouTube and Yahoo! don't have a category for them. House-hunters must cull the videos from millions of other clips by typing in search terms.

That may be about to change.

"I think 2007 will be the year video breaks out," said Joel Burslem, marketing director for a Portland, Ore., brokerage and host of a popular industry blog, futureofrealestatemarketing.com.

Burslem cites the increasing accessibility of video technology just as the real estate boom was beginning to fade and the industry was scratching for ways to attract attention.

At the same time, the major search engines, including YouTube's parent, Google, are emerging as players in hosting real estate listings and property-mapping tools. Designating a category for real estate videos would be a natural complement, he said.

Burslem expects the video sites to create such "channels" dedicated to real estate content, perhaps even by specific brokerages, through special marketing agreements.

"I don't think it will be too long before you can upload a video to your listing on Google Base and have it searchable on Google Real Estate," Burslem said. "I don't think that's out of the realm of possibility at all."

YouTube spokesman Aaron Ferstman said he couldn't comment on specific plans for either site, but he said online video exposure has an obvious appeal in real estate.

"When a (real estate agent) puts it on YouTube, it's being broadcast to the world," he said.

It's not, however, being broadcast in a consistent form.

For the most part, the videos aren't the familiar "virtual tours" -- the once-novel, 360-degree room scans that have inhabited brokerage sites for a decade or so.

Many of the current videos are a few minutes of digital footage shot by a videographer -- or a real estate agent or homeowner -- strolling room-to-room.

At one end of that scale are videos on a par with Davis': A walk-through embellished with such subtitles as "Living Room" and the agent's contact information. In Davis' townhouse presentation, there's no narration, just dubbed-in background music from a jazz ensemble.

Davis' production costs are the camera and several hours of her time, she said.

Others pull out the stops. Professional videographer Malachi Leopold found himself being hoisted by a hydraulic lift last year to capture the second-story view that a buyer of an oceanfront lot in Massachusetts would get after building on it.

Later, Leopold, who heads the Left Brain/Right Brain production company in Chicago, also shot footage of the countryside and streets of a nearby town to provide local flavor, he said.

After the video went up on several Web sites, it was spotted by someone in California who bought the property, Leopold said.

Leopold put more than two full workdays into the project. He declined to specify his earnings, but speculated that real estate agents would expect to pay $1,000 to $3,500 for such efforts -- perhaps $5,000 or more, depending on the complexity, a factor that would limit polished videos to high-end properties.

Not all videos are live-action. Those of the 40 to 50 listings posted by the Real Living Helios brokerage in Chicago are essentially elaborate slideshows of still photography, stitched together with visual effects and voiceover narration.

Because they are video podcasts, consumers can subscribe to them and download them into their computers, Web-enabled phones or iPods, according to brokerage principal Joe Magliochetti. He said his firm submits the videos to about 60 sites and podcast-specific directories and described production costs as "nominal."

And they're getting results, he said.

"We can attribute approximately 10 percent of our Web site traffic to the various podcasting directories," Magliochetti said. The firm's video vendor estimates that each Real Living Helios podcast episode averages 115 viewings a month.

"We believe these people are actively looking for more information about properties, which means they are more likely to be a ready buyer," he said.

One thing that's holding real estate video back, say those who aren't terribly impressed, is picture resolution, which is critical in marketing homes. Mega sites such as YouTube compress data to accommodate huge numbers of videos, so picture quality tends to be less than stellar.

"They're not `real estate great,'" says Christian Sterner, co-founder of Wellcomemat.com, dubbed "the YouTube of real estate" when it launched last year.

"We're going to be a venue of choice because we have nothing but (realty) video," Sterner said. In addition to offering higher resolution, wellcomemat videos are embeddable on brokerages' home pages, so real estate companies can show off their videos without sending shoppers to other sites.

Its Beta version hosts videos for free (though its search function is inactive temporarily while it's being revamped, Sterner said), but eventually will charge agents a monthly fee.

"In a time of market flattening and rising inventories (of homes for sale), people need to do whatever they can," said Sterner.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.