Real estate agents understand the home buying (and selling!) process hinges on a single experience — the home tour.

While nothing beats the IRL walkthrough, a huge chunk of home-buying begins online — where the transformative power of video can make or break a sale. In fact, a 2019 National Association of Realtors (NAR) report found that 46 percent of buyers cited real estate virtual video tours as the most influential content on a real estate website.

So we leveraged our state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI), trained on millions of videos, to scientifically answer one very important question: What makes a real estate video successful?

This first-of-its-kind machine learning research produced a data-backed blueprint realtors can use to make more engaging real estate videos, close deals more quickly, and promote property listings more effectively.

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What we learned from 5,000+ real estate videos

Our AI analyzed 5,000 real estate videos from across the Vimeo landscape, studying specific attributes in each video, like music, logos, aerial shots, narration, and interior scenes.

We determined which videos performed better based on whether certain attributes were included, how they were used, and when they were used, creating a “thumbprint” of thousands of videos.

Each thumbprint portrays where features are most likely to pop up, and in what order. In the process, we pinpointed four major types of real estate videos:

  1. Full walkthrough: This is the classic home tour, and typically focuses on interior shots of the home.
  2. Extended start: Roughly 30% of these videos started with outside shots before moving the camera inside.
  3. Outdoor tour: These videos concentrated on a property’s outdoor space, as well as exterior shots.
  4. Split tour: A video that divides its time—and space—between an interior and exterior. We found 10% started outside, then moved inside. About 30% of the videos ended outside.

We’ve translated our insights into eight best practices for real estate video marketing, so you can create video content that consistently performs well.

8 data-backed tips to create a virtual video tour that wows

1. Get right to the point.

People are inundated with content, and they want to know what they need to know, fast. Whether your viewer is a casual browser or someone intent on finding a listing they can view immediately, it’s essential to grab their attention.

These habits were shown to cause a drop off in viewers:

  • Lingering too long on the exterior
  • Using text too early in the video
  • Showing a logo at the start of a video

2. Stage the home prior to filming.

Agents know that staged homes show better for prospective buyers viewing a property in person. We found this approach applied just as well to video as it does in the real world: Videos featuring a furnished home performed significantly better than a raw or empty space. Our top performing videos showcased specific interior details, like furniture or objects.

3. Focus on the interior.

We learned that interior shots did better than exterior, overall, suggesting that viewers find the interior of homes most interesting.

This tracks with common knowledge — people buying property are most concerned about what the home itself has to offer — and supports our key finding on the benefits of quickly segueing into an interior tour.

Viewers were 50 percent more likely to finish a full walkthrough than an extended start, and 70 percent more likely to finish a full walkthrough than an outdoor tour.

4. Cut out the boring stuff.

Proper pacing your real estate walkthrough video ensures that the property’s best spaces shine. Our top performing videos combined more beauty shots of detailed rooms, broken up into short, captivating scenes.

Videos that wasted time moving through hallways or transition areas took a nose-dive in engagement.

5. Add audio—ideally both music and narration.

People were twice as likely to finish a video with audio than a video that had none. Videos with a narration—someone talking a viewer through the space—performed 20 percent better than videos with just music, so it’s best to include music as well as voice overs in a real estate video.

6. When taking outdoor shots, the higher the vantage point, the better.

Videos with drone footage of a property performed better than those featuring only ground-level outdoor scenes. These shots also performed best at the end of a real estate video ad, which tracks back to our walkthrough formula.

7. Use text at the right time.

According to our study’s top performers, videos that use text in the beginning lost viewers rapidly. All this supports our earlier findings: People want to see the space, first and foremost, so save written-through property stats and contact information for the last third of a video.

8. Always edit your real estate videos.

Taking the time to polish each video with some thoughtful editing will pay off in more ways than one. Across all genres, viewers spent more time watching a real estate video that was edited. Top performing videos showed more and shorter scenes, as opposed to fewer and longer scenes.

Does video help sell real estate?

Yes! A real estate group in Australia found that listings that leverage video marketing methods get up to 400 percent more inquiries compared to ones that don’t.

How to make a stand-out real estate walkthrough video

A listing video can be many things at once:

  • An introduction to an alluring property
  • A possible replacement for an in-person tour
  • A method of showcasing the upscale amenities mentioned in a written description
  • An opportunity to bridge the gap between a buyer’s aspiration and what could, in a short period of time, become their reality 

Of course, the soul of a listing video is the introduction of a property’s interior. But a property featuring any kind of outdoor space deserves its moment in the sun, too (like this lush private terrace, which is the stuff of every New Yorkers’ dreams).

Video tours of backyards and open-air spaces hivnt at the world a buyer can expect to greet every time they step outside, from landscaped yards and flower gardens to driveways and decks. A view from the street video can also dramatically emphasize property’s curb appeal, livability, and interesting views.

Beyond the property itself, video provides a crucial brand-building advantage. Look at Video Sells Real Estate‘s, who introduce us to the team at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty with this glossy, luxe “get-to-know-us” video.

Many agents create an ongoing series of marketing and promotional videos to share their core values, communicate their personality, and give buyers a reason to trust them and them alone in what can be a rollercoaster ride of an experience, while bigger brokerage firms can zoom out with a promo video that highlights overall team philosophy.

There are endless opportunities to market an agency or team, including client testimonials, lot previews, neighborhood tours, and local business spotlights. Take, for example, Aerial Canvas’ video love letter to Westborough, a small neighborhood of South San Francisco.

Our research showed that the best real estate video tours actually follow a very simple formula that can be broken down into three acts:

Act 1: Beginning of video

The top virtual walkthroughs typically begin with an attractive frontal view of the property, before moving on to scenes of the surrounding neighborhood.

Act 2: Middle of video

The middle of the video should shift focus to the interior of the property. Our research indicates it’s best to cycle through larger rooms first, followed by rooms that fulfill a specific purpose, like the dining room, living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other rooms.

Act 3: End of video

We recommend returning to the outside or exterior of the property and conclude with branding. This is the part where you’ll want to leverage drone and aerial shots, logos, and faces.

Want more? We’ve put together a companion piece that dives deeper into specific real estate video tour ideas. Or, get right to work creating your own videos with dozens of Vimeo Create real estate templates

How long should a real estate video be?

Anywhere between two and six minutes is common, depending on the video type. With a full walkthrough, you’ll want your video to be long enough to see each room in the home. For a real estate agent’s ad or testimonial, opt for something short and sweet. 

How to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck

Video marketing for real estate agents is still a relatively new playing field, and with that fresh perspective comes a wide range of creative opportunities for agents. Mastering the real estate walkthrough listing video is the perfect place to start.

A successful real estate video marketing strategy is a diverse one, drawing as many eyes as possible from as many different places as possible. Our study demonstrated that large-platform sites like Compass, Zillow, and StreetEasy are still the best bet for retention.

Simultaneously posting real estate videos to small sites and social media channels will build community and brand awareness, and encourage viewers to participate in active conversations.

The most important thing to keep in mind about distribution is that the same video won’t necessarily work for every platform. We found that making site-specific real estate videos that utilize the strengths of each hosting platform generate more engagement. 

A visually-appealing, compelling walkthrough video is primed for success on a larger real estate site, but that same full-length video might not connect with viewers scrolling through Instagram.

A walkthrough of quick-hit highlights meant to pique interest works better on Instagram or Facebook, compared to the complete 3D real estate video tours suited for a large site.

Where can I post real estate videos?

As many places as possible, from big platforms like Zillow and Compass to social sites like Facebook and Instagram. Real estate agents can also embed videos on their personal website.

Why does real estate video marketing matter, anyway?

Now you know what makes a great real estate video, it’s time to talk about why good marketing can make or break you.

An oft-quoted study by a real estate group in Australia found that listings that leverage video marketing methods get up to 400 percent more inquiries compared to ones that don’t.

Does video help sell real estate? The answer, simply put, is yes.

The real estate market saw a dramatic shift in 2020, pivoting to online tours seemingly overnight. Though this change may seem relatively new, realtors have long relied on video marketing to achieve four evergreen goals:

  • Raise the profile of their agency or business 
  • Exhibit unique capabilities as part of a sales pitch
  • Generate interest and buzz around a listing
  • Convert viewers into potential buyers and capture email leads. 

The transformative nature of video sells the dream by conveying a home’s multi-dimensional qualities.

Video establishes a sense of place. Everything from a property’s quality of light (at different times of day, thanks to time lapse) to the sound of a neighborhood to what can only be described as the vibe of a room overlooking a quiet street or a bustling avenue can be evoked in seconds.

The takeaway here isn’t just that clients expect video to be an integral part of their search. Clearly, agents need to cut through a crowded market and a noisy internet to connect with clients in an authentic way — because they may only get one chance.

How much does a real estate video cost?

The average cost of a real estate video shot on a budget can range between $500 and $1,000.

Best practices in real estate marketing

Now that you’re equipped with these stat-backed tips, it’s time to start marketing. Here are must-follow tips for making the most of every video you create:

  • Include background visuals and text. The use of custom backgrounds had a 32 percent lift, and incorporating supporting text meant a 20 percent lift. 
  • Build buzz on social. Front-load the most engaging scenes in real estate videos posted to social media sites. Retention is often lower on social, and fewer people stick around to the very end of the video. 

  • Eliminate secondary links. Too many options at once tend to confuse viewers, although this is less of a factor for short videos (< thirty seconds) or long videos that run for five minutes.
  • Prioritize the indoor tour. If you’re only planning to embed one video per property listing, make that video a full walkthrough. On average, full walkthrough videos performed nearly 10 percent better than videos that emphasized outdoor shots.

  • Walk it out. In our study, full walkthroughs also had 30 percent better retention than the next best genre, a split tour. 
  • Skip the great outdoors. Full walkthroughs enjoyed a whopping 120 percent better retention than the worst type, an outside tour.
  • Use descriptive headers. This saw a 34 percent lift in click-through rate (CTR) for gated videos, which are usually designed to grow an agent’s email list.

  • Diversify your posts. Branch out beyond your personal site, even if it’s the first place you send clients: Videos placed on one of the top five real estate sites had almost 10 percent better retention than owned sites. Social media was a close second, with nearly 8 percent better retention.

With Vimeo Create, choose from hundreds of templates, upload your footage, and publish across platforms in seconds. We’ve made it easy for real estate agents to do what they do best—connect more people with the homes of their dreams.

Make a real estate video today.