Location movies a star turn for estate agencies

Home tour videos are no longer where it's at. Location movies and e-films are boosting business. Sharon Dale reports

Selling houses isn’t just about bricks and mortar and postcodes, it’s about marketing a lifestyle.

That’s why David Varley includes close-ups of coffee shops and lingers over beauty spots and other compelling amenities when he compiles one of his area films.

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The former TV cameraman and founder of Leeds-based Home on Film has shot footage in towns, cities and villages all over his native Yorkshire and far beyond, including the Gower Peninsula and the South Hams in Devon, thanks to growing demand from estate agents who have spotted the potential to boost their brand.

The films feature commentary, are set to soothing music and can be sent to potential vendors, buyers and tenants and posted on agents’ websites and in property portal listings. They can also be used on social media, giving agents another way of promoting their brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

“Prospective buyers from outside the area get a positive introduction to the place and see things they wouldn’t if they were just going to view a property. They’re especially useful for those who don’t know the area,” says David, who adds that locals also love the location videos.

“They tap into community pride as we show places in a very positive light. We’ve just done one of Meanwood and put it on our own Facebook page. We got 2,000 video views, 5,000 likes and over 250 shares within 24 hours. It went ballistic.

“Our film of Castleford got 20,000 views and we have an agent in west Wales who gets 18,000 hits a month on the area films on his Facebook page. It’s not just a quick video, we take time to explore, so the sort of comments you get on Facebook include, ‘Wow, is this on my doorstep?’”

This shot from the Calder Valley area film shows the location in a positive light.

Park Row Properties, which has offices in Pontefract, Selby, Sherburn in Elmet, Goole, Castleford and Kippax, use efilms.

Paul Singleton, director of Park Row Properties, says: “Despite a difficult market we continue to do well. Our instructions and sales are up from last year and efilm video marketing has been significant in terms of selling our brand to prospective vendors pre valuation. We text the clients a video of their location along with our promotional video. They are always well received. It’s a proactive approach and a great marketing tool.”

David and his team have also launched a video marketing system called efilm, which allows agents to send the area video pre and post-valuation to prospective vendors. They can either be sent via text at the cost of 6p or by email. Along with the location film, agents can text or email an introduction via a mini movie.

Ryder and Dutton, which has five branches in Calderdale and Kirklees, were one of the first agents to realise the potential and now send an average of 40 efilms a day.

Home on Film was launched in 2007 and grew out of a production company, which produced films for corporate clients. It began at a time when video tours of homes for sale were seen as a selling tool. The shaky footage that moved too fast and made you feel dizzy is now a rarity.

David says: “It takes time and money to get home tour videos done professionally so they are expensive if you want a good result. Most of them are poor quality and make the estate agency involved look cheap. Also, unless a property is professionally staged, they don’t show it in a good light because you get the warts and all, unlike a photograph. The reality dawned and that’s why you don’t see many around now.

“Statistics show that people are 200 times more likely to watch an area film rather than a property tour video and that’s why for the past eight years we have been solely concentrating on filming locations.”

His business model is charging each estate agency branch a set fee each month for use of the area film.

This shot from the Calder Valley area film shows the location in a positive light.

“We are continually shooting new locations and replacing older content and we have plans to film London and its suburbs. I believe Home on Film will grow into a major player. In the next 10 to 15 years we would hope to have most UK locations on film.”