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Technology & You/Users/adamp/Desktop/Jan images/technology

Do-it-yourself Video Property Podcasts

It took a changing real estate market and some hands-on training with a New York Film Academy student to get Jorge Guerra thinking about video podcasting as a viable marketing tool for his real estate business. It was early 2006, and this CEO and broker at Real Estate Sales Force in Coral Gables was looking for ways to differentiate himself and his 28 sales associates.

Guerra uses a process known as video podcasting to deliver video clip content online either directly to customers or to Web sites like YouTube (to view Guerra’s podcast, go to  www.resf.com/Real_Estate_Sales_Force/Home and click on “Video Listings.”), where users can either view videos on their computers or download them to their portable media players and watch them at their leisure. Real estate professionals who want to use video podcasts, but don’t have the time or inclination to create them, can hire companies like PodcastPeople.com and ADVMediaProductions.com to develop, upload and/or host the shows for them.

“A New York Film Academy student showed me a few short, online movies that he’d filmed,” says Guerra, who decided to integrate this technology into his company’s marketing plan. “I immediately saw it as a way to differentiate my company.” 

Guerra got his hands on a copy of Final Cut Pro, a video-editing program designed for use on Macintosh computers. One of his earliest video podcasts involved a single-family listing in a highly desirable neighborhood, but with “the ugliest kitchen known to man.” Realizing that the room would turn off some potential buyers, he used his video camera to capture the home, including the kitchen, and uploaded it to the Web.

“I was getting 20 to 30 calls a week on the property, and told them to call me after viewing the video if they were interested,” says Guerra. “The video podcast cut my showing time down by 90 percent, by eliminating buyers who didn’t like the kitchen.” He says his firm’s video podcasts have received more than 11,000 views on Google alone since he started using them. Podcasts are better than Web videos, Guerra says, because they’re not much bigger than a standard music mp3 file, and they take less than a minute to open or download, even using a standard dial-up connection.

Here’s how Guerra creates and uses video podcasts on all his listings: 
 
1. Capture the Entire Home
The first step to successful video podcasting involves capturing the home’s interior and exterior on video. Be sure to include neighborhood amenities. Guerra uses a Panasonic DVX 100 camera together with proper lighting and camera-positioning techniques to capture the best aspects of the home. A tripod lets him steady the camera, to set up shots that come out clear and crisp.

Guerra starts by taping the home’s exterior and front door, and then moves into the kitchen, common areas, bedrooms and bathrooms. He uses lighting to illuminate the home and relies on natural sunlight while shooting outside. Using a microphone, he talks into the camera as he shoots, making note of all the home’s features and amenities.
 
2. Edit Your Video
With a full disk in hand, Guerra heads back to his office, powers up his Mac laptop and clicks the Final Cut Pro icon. He connects his camera to the computer and uploads the shoot into the system, where he can then select the best parts and filter them into his video podcast.

The process takes a few hours, finding Guerra cutting and pasting what he feels are the best possible shots into the final production. “I assemble it all together into one cohesive production,” says Guerra, who advises real estate professionals to tap resources like Virtual Training Center (www.vtc.com), which offers tutorials on a wide range of topics, including video production.
 
3. Add Audio
Now comes the fun part: adding your voiceover and any music to the production. Careful not to borrow copyrighted music, however, Guerra uses programs like GarageBand and file-sharing services like LimeWire (www.limewire.com) to create his own tunes. For voiceovers, he plugs a microphone into his computer and starts talking about the home. At this point he also incorporates any talking that he did while filming the home, thus creating a presentation that potential buyers can use to educate themselves on the property.

While creating the video podcasts, which he makes both accessible on the Web and downloadable to iPods for portable viewing, Guerra says he sticks to one common rule: Keep them simple. “Remember that you’re not shooting a major motion picture here,” he says. “The idea is simply to get buyers to see the home inside and out, and to learn as much as possible about it, in an entertaining way.” 

4. Upload Files to the Web

Once a video podcast has been created, Guerra uses his podcast-editing software to compress it to a size suitable for use on the Internet, and then he uploads it to several Web sites. He likes YouTube (www.youtube.com) for its ease of use, but he also uses Google Video (www.video.google.com) and Craigslist (www.craigslist.com). 

Once the video podcast has been uploaded, Guerra’s sellers become the production’s biggest promoters. “Once you video[podcast] someone’s home, they want to show it to everyone,” says Guerra, who uses the free utilities on sites like YouTube to track how often his video podcasts are shared and viewed. 

This column, designed to offer examples of how salespeople and brokers are using technology in their offices, won first place in the 2006 Best Column category from the Florida Magazine Association. The column is for general information only. Opinions expressed here don’t necessarily reflect an endorsement of the views by Florida Realtor® magazine or the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR).