Put yourself in the shoes of a typical prospective home buyer. Your name is Bob Buyer.
If you are interested in the metro Atlanta market, there is about a 40 percent chance you are relocating and just beginning to explore buying a home.
You log in to Google and enter “buy a house in atlanta.” You get back 183 million results in less than one second.
After a few more tries with results still offering little guidance or direction, you ask your new boss in Atlanta to refer a local real estate agent with a good track record helping your company. You get two names. Within 24 hours, you get two e-mails.
The first is from Gail, introducing herself and offering to help, then asking for your phone number. The second, from Jim, is similar, but has a large business card image that says CLICK HERE FOR YOUR VIDEO FROM JIM. You click the card.
Next thing you know, Jim pops up on your screen, looks you straight in the eye, and says: “Hi, Bob … I wanted to let you know who I am and how I can help you find the perfect home for you and your family here in Atlanta.”
Seconds after the video, your phone rings. It’s Jim, who offers to meet you at the airport and show half a dozen homes as soon as you get to Atlanta. You say yes. In the meantime, if you will tell him a little about what you want, he will send you short videos of each house.
You decide to work with Jim. Meanwhile, Gail is watching funny cat videos on YouTube as she wonders why you aren’t answering her e-mail.
Here are some facts:
* Video is much more engaging than email.
* YouTube is now the number two search engine in the world, just behind its parent, Google. Video posted to YouTube is ranked higher in search engines and more likely to be found by those looking for its subject matter, such as “homes for sale in Atlanta.”
* According to the CISCO Visual Networking Index, video traffic now accounts for over 50 percent of Internet use, and that number is growing fast.
* According to the National Association of Realtors, over 90 percent of homebuyers begin their search on the Internet. Yet the vast majority of listing agents fail to use video on their websites or in their marketing.
* According to a potentially self-serving survey by a company called PropertyPreviews, typical buyers said an online video tour increased a home’s perceived value by 5.7 percent. Granted, “perceived value” is not the same as “final purchase price,” but at least it helps set the stage for a sale.
* One industry source says that over a third of buyers end up buying a house they found online, but almost 90 percent then select and use an agent to help them.
So, why are agents reluctant to incorporate high-definition video into their marketing strategy?
It’s not for lack of money. For under 50 bucks, you can buy a high-definition point-and-shoot camera that will take high-quality videos and upload them directly to YouTube for free, where you can edit them and annotate them for free, and promote and share them for free. Most agents already carry tablets or smartphones capable of making excellent quality videos and posting them online.
Sellers tend to list more often with agents who use video, and buyers demand video as a way of saving time and money. Homebuying has almost become an online spectator sport.
Personal observation leads me to believe that there are two primary reasons agents and their brokers are unwilling to embrace high-definition video:
1. Change Hurts: If you have never done something before, or you’ve always done it another way and the benefit of making a change is nebulous, most of us will resist.
2. Fear of Video: It is perfectly natural to be uncomfortable with our recorded voice or image, especially if we are not used to hearing or seeing it regularly. I have been interviewed on local and national television several times, and my hands get clammy and I am always afraid I will end up looking like an idiot, but it hasn’t happened yet (at least my mother says it hasn’t).
My strong advice to all agents in this slow-motion recovery is to embrace YouTube as the communication tool of the future, and become an expert at sharing your business with the world on the internet.
John Adams is a broker, investor, and author. He answers real estate questions every Sunday at 3 pm on WGKA-am(920). He welcomes your comments at Money99.com, where you will find an expanded version of this column.