I like video. I’m a visual person, and maybe a bit lazy too. If I’m trying to do something around the house I will almost always see if there is a how to video first before I read ANYTHING. So it’s no surprise that video plays an important role in our company’s strategy and I wanted to share some of those successes here, if only to demonstrate how important video is becoming. For years our agents have done virtual home tours. There are any number of companies out there that will show up at a property, take some still shots, shoot some video, add some titles and stitch together a 2 minute clip that gets uploaded to our YouTube account. No fuss, no muss. On the Bosley Real Estate YouTube channel, those videos can generate 20-30 views and may hit 60 if we’re lucky. These videos also show up as attachments to agent’s listings on MLS and Realtor.ca and get a lot more views outside of YouTube.
Several years ago someone came up with the idea of shooting “lifestyle” videos. Conceptual in nature, these videos add a unique angle to the traditional home video by using actors to show what LIVING IN THE HOUSE is like. Cool idea. These videos have gained some success and have contributed to the house being sold. In fact some of our agents are using them quite successfully. Of course they are more expensive to produce and once the property is sold the video has limited appeal except as a tool to get other listings. Which begs the question, if a potential client says he wants a lifestyle video and the house is a dump, how are you going to back out of that one?
For our part, our video success has come from two sources. First we recognized that Bosley Real Estate has deep and long-lasting roots in the various communities in Toronto and so we were the best ones to talk about neighbourhoods. We created a video series called “Neighbourhood Navigators”. Currently we have 13 done and another 4 in post production. We also have one of the most experienced management teams and advice that is worthwhile and relevant so we created advice videos with topics like “Do I have to accept a full price offer on my home?”. These videos have responded to the statistics that are available. A 2013 Google Consumer Survey reports that 47% of RE researchers use YouTube to view video home tours, 21% use it to learn about neighbourhoods, 18% use it to learn about RE companies of agents, and 13% use it to watch “how to” and “advice” videos. With barely 9 months under our belts our success has been extraordinary. Check out a snapshot of or analytics. We were basically flatlining but the major jump happened the moment we published our first neighbourhood video in June of 2013. . Video continues to play an important role in our online presence too. On our new website we created a Neighbourhood Navigator and Advice page. Our agents are embedding the videos into their own websites and are reporting additional traffic. Of course we still have a lot more up our sleeve. Version 2 is coming out in a few months and will see some video content coming out in our app.
It is no surprise that video is an important tool for the real estate brokerage. In our fast paced, no time to read, life, video plays a critical role. We are also a big fan of agent videos as they give a consumer the chance to meet someone before they meet them face to face.
mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office.
I would be the first to admit that some of my Tuesday meetings are a complete flop. When you factor in holidays, summer schedules, sick days and bad weather, I conduct about 40 meetings a year at the Bosley Real Estate Queen West office. I will admit that a few of them are pretty bad. Once I had no idea what I was going to talk about so I hired a magician. I told the agents that he was an internationally acclaimed real estate speaker. I had them believing that for about 2 minutes. But at least we had a blast. Some meetings, like this one….well, I feel like I can put it in the “win” column.
This week’s meeting was all about figuring out where to spend your marketing money. When I do yearly reviews I always ask the question…What are you spending money on? What’s working? What’s not? I got this idea to create a visual representation from the Agent Reboot Conference I recently attended in NYC. First, I drew a chart. The horizontal line represented the effort from easy and cheap to expensive and hard. The Vertical line represented the impact your idea would have from little impact at the bottom to high impact at the top. Then we started naming off things we spend our money on and placed them on the chart in the appropriate spot. It’s a bit arbitrary because something like a PR campaign might be really easy and inexpensive for one agent and the complete opposite for others so I asked the person with the idea to figure out where to place the dot. Ultimately we came up with 30 things. If we had more time I’m sure we could have come up with another 30. What I hoped would happen was that a group of things would emerge as being inexpensive and high impact…and thankfully that’s what I got. Whew.
Later I was thinking that this would be a good exercise for individual agents to do since they all have different skill sets. What do you think? Are there any other things you would add to the list that I missed? Where would you place them?
I’m not sure if it is just my rambunctious crowd but when we do exercises like this they often lead to some interesting remarks and hilarity so, to all the managers out there, have some fun with this one.
Technology talk used to be the dominant topic of conversation at real estate conferences over the last few years but these days there has been a noticeable shift to discussions on brands and brand building. I think we are talking about brands more because our industry has become so fractured that it is tougher and more expensive for agents to succeed.
Consider this, in the early days of real estate sales, agents worked for a neighbourhood brokerage who fielded calls and handed out leads. Upon successful completion of a transaction, the brokerage would keep a substantial portion of the earned commission. In return, the brokerage office was responsible for advertising listings and managing day-to-day operations. When independent contractor status came out agents assumed more responsibility for the sales function thus opening the doors for new brokerage models. Now take a look at what is happening now.
In Toronto we are closing in on 40,000 agents who are all competing for a piece of the 90,000 sales that happen each year. The sharp increase in the number of agents in our market has caused significant shifts in the real estate industry. The first is a downward pressure on commissions, and the second is the rise in popularity of the “discount brokerage”, a model that relies on fees rather than commissions. Both of these shifts have benefited the consumer in some way but have also put pressure on the traditional real estate brokerage model.
Now agents are faced with a new dilemma. Their competitive advantage is no longer their ability to offer lower commissions. They need to create a lot more value for the consumer. That may come in the form of neighborhood videos, access to a research department, market and/or neighbourhood reports, rich demographic information, media coverage, websites with killer SEO, and, least we not forget… training. For the average new agent coming into the business with nothing more than a few hundred dollars in their pocket and a dream, it is next to impossible to shoulder the costs of these tools. For the savvy brokerage, it is clear that an opportunity exists to share their offerings and create a new competitive advantage with their agents …at a cost.
For further clarification and a hint of what is to come, it is worthwhile to look south for additional trends. Following a catastrophic real estate collapse, the US market is finally returning to health. But something happened along the way. The primary objective to staying in business moved from saving money to creating an experience for the client. Several companies that operated VOWs in the past are now embracing bricks and mortar models. Others are moving away from the fee based systems and returning to traditional brokerage business models. Take a look at these great videos from Go Realty in North Carolina or Red Oak Realty in California. They are creating an experience for the consumer who may have come to the realization that buying and selling real estate doesn’t work in a virtual environment.
This is not to say that a virtual office or fee-based brokerage can’t succeed. I am all in favour of consumer choice but from where I sit it is clear that the full-service real estate model is about to make a giant come back.
As the old expression goes…what comes around goes around. Years ago independent contractor status destroyed the big brand but just like the circle of life, the independent contractor status is bringing the concept of brand back.
The opinion expressed here are the opinions of Mark Mclean and don’t represent the opinions of Bosley Real Estate.