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How to Shoot Cinematic Real Estate Videos

Michael Maher

Real estate videos are highly specific projects that can have a huge impact on the targeted audience. Here are the must-take steps to creating cinematic real estate videos that actually sell property.

Cover Image via RUHM Luxury Marketing

Real estate is a visual medium, so photos and video are crucial to sales. This includes everything from home sales, luxury office space, or extravagant vacation rentals. Pictures are crucial to websites that showcase homes for sale, hotels, and even places listed on sites like Airbnb. But often, real estate agents find themselves needing to showcase bigger properties in bigger ways. This is where real estate video has seen huge growth.

In this post, we will cover the basic rules of real estate video production and the three main types of real estate videos. By the end, you will have a solid understanding of what it takes to make a must-see real estate video that really impresses your potential buyers.


The Basic Rules of Real Estate Video Production

For your typical real estate property, aim to keep the final video under three minutes. Don’t waste your buyer’s time, as many are just flying through listings until they find something that catches their attention. The video can be longer if the property is a multi-million dollar facility that has plenty to show off. That said, it still should not go over eight minutes. A real estate video that has a length over 10 minutes is a waste of time and investment.

Now that you know you should be sticking to a tighter schedule, be sure to only highlight key features and amenities. It’s easier to put the type of fixtures in the description than it is to show them in the video. You can even throw in a quick voiceover that talks about some of the tiny details like the floors and windows.

How to Shoot Cinematic Real Estate Videos, Wide Kitchen
Image via Shutterstock

Be sure to shoot wide as often as possible. Close up shots of decor and furniture are not helpful, as those things don’t come with the property. Viewers should be able to see the entire room and imagine their own belongings inside. Give a feel for the space, not the material items already inside.

While the property should be the main focus, you can include some quick shots of the neighborhood and nearby stores or restaurants. By doing so, you add incentive to living or working in that area. That said, don’t get carried away with everything outside of the property. Your goal is to sell the real estate in the video. Keep your focus there.

How to Shoot Cinematic Real Estate Videos, Golden Hour
Image via Shutterstock

When it comes to cinematic real estate videos, the toughest part is lighting. This includes natural lighting, built-in property fixtures, and lighting kits. To really WOW the buyer, the lighting needs to match the ambience. You will find that shooting during the middle of the day in a home with huge windows is going to be a pain.

The trick to lighting comes down to the time of day and proper color temperature. The golden hour is the best time to shoot property, because this allows your viewers to see inside and outside of the windows at the same time. Otherwise, you will have blown out windows – meaning the windows will be full of bright white light.

If a room doesn’t have enough light, use a lighting kit to fill the room. We have previously covered the fundamentals of lighting and color temperature. That said, you don’t have to have a big, expensive kit. There are plenty of cheap alternatives to adding the right amount of light. Just make sure the lighting is complementary to the room. A bedroom should have a warm inviting feel, not be harshly lit to look like a hospital operating table.

How to Shoot Cinematic Real Estate Videos, Lighting
Image via RUHM Luxury Marketing

Now that we have covered the inside of the property, what about outside? The best thing to do, once again, is to shoot wide. This doesn’t work for every property, as is depends on the look of the neighboring properties. The best look will come from setting the camera up on a tripod. You can also shoot wide at a low angle to give a very impressive look to any facility.

You may be tempted to use a drone to capture impressive aerials. You really shouldn’t do this. Drones should only be used if you have an FAA Section 333 exemption. Your work on these videos classify as commercial work. This makes drone use illegal — at least until new drone regulation passes. You face a penalty from the FAA when using a drone in commercial work.

While on the subject of penalties, don’t forget to license your music! Don’t spend all that time making a real estate video for it to be pulled by YouTube for a copyright violation. Luckily for you, you already found this site. The added benefit of using a PremiumBeat track is a song’s multiple use. Meaning if you absolutely love one of our songs, you just have to license it one time — then you can use it in all of your real estate videos. 


Three Types of Real Estate Videos

How to Shoot Cinematic Real Estate Videos, image from Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

There are essentially three different types of real estate videos – which really tie into the property value. The more expensive the real estate, the more luxurious the video should be. Standard real estate videos with use either a slide show or virtual tour, where high-end homes and vistas will often use a documentary-style approach.

Now, you can certainly make a documentary-style video for a standard home, but a real estate agent won’t have as much return on their investment. The reason the documentary approach is used on expensive homes is the larger budget to sell the home.

Needless to say, any real estate video should accomplish two main goals. It should showcase the property for sale, which should in turn help sell it quickly.  It should also create a call-to-action to send potential buyers to the real estate agent. Even if the property featured in the video sells right away, the real estate agent can potentially get more customers that are looking for similar properties. The call-to-action can be as simple as listing the real estate agent at the end of the video or throughout the video on lower thirds.

1. Slide Show

The slide show is the easiest and most popular style of real estate video. In fact, a majority of these videos only use photographs. Since they are so simple, you’ll need to make your slide show real estate videos stand out. Add motion graphics to make the video pop. If you don’t have much experience, try using a template.

Our friends at RocketStock make excellent After Effects templates. You literally just drop your photos and videos into the template, and you have instant added production value. Here is an example of their Skyline template, which was designed for property promotions.

2. Virtual Tour

The virtual tour showcases an entire home, room by room. This can be done with photographs and/or video. It can also be done in 360 degrees, which allows buyers to experience the home themselves.

In this video from Stockworth Realty, the call-to-action immediately shows up in the beginning with a contact and phone number. Then the real estate video jumps into a nice brief intro to the property. You will then see that a majority of the video is shot wide, while the close ups only give a look at detail — like the granite countertops.

There is also plenty of movement on a slider. This keeps the shots from being too static. If you aren’t going to be moving the camera — then you should probably just take photos. The video then ends with a second call-to-action to visit the website and lists the agent’s contact information. All of this is done in under three minutes. It’s an excellent example of what a real estate video should be.

These virtual tours are really the best type of real estate video in terms of return on investment. They require more work than a slide show, but don’t cost nearly as much as a documentary-style real estate video.

For more on these types of virtual tour real estate videos, check out this tutorial from our friend Dave Dugdale. He covers his experience making his first real estate video. He confirms that these videos should come in under three minutes, while balancing the right amount of footage inside the home versus outside the home. He also talks about using actors in the video, but not using faces so viewers can picture themselves in the property.

3. Documentary

The documentary-style real estate video is best for luxury properties. This style does not really work for smaller homes, because it requires you to film a lot of material. The overall cost of production is very high. That said, these videos are the most popular and likely to go viral.

In this video from RUHM Luxury Marketing, we are given a full tour of the home and surrounding area, all while following an incredibly charismatic and funny host. The video spoofs many home and garden cable television shows, but does so while still focusing on selling the home. The script was expertly written, mixing necessary information, humor, and some fun notes.

This video does break the previously mentioned three minute rule, but the property has so much to offer and showcase that the length is justified. There are many wide interior shots on a slider, close-up shots of the beautiful wood floors, and tons of great footage of the nearby beach and retail outlets. RUHM Luxury Marketing produces some of the best real estate documentary videos, and this video is one of their best.

In comparison, on of the most popular real estate videos ever is the tour of Michael Jordan‘s home. The property went up for auction, and the following tour was developed to drum up interest in the sale. The video comes in at almost nine minutes, just going over the ultimate 8 minute guideline we previously set. That said, the home and career of a basketball legend has more to offer than your typical home for sale.

The real estate video still follows the same real estate video guidelines. It opens with a call-to-action, mentioning the auction company, auction date, and contact information. Nearly every shot is either wide or super-wide. A host and the listing agent take you through the entire home. This video does focus on the furniture as well, but that’s because all of the furnishing come with the purchase of the property.

The video replaces the surrounding neighborhood footage with career highlights, but odds are you won’t have similar footage to work with. The outro repeats the call-to-action while adding additional information to the properties sale. Even a property as fantastic as this uses the same selling techniques constantly listed above.

Ever shot any real estate videos? Share your process in the comments below!

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