Buyers, sellers want video while agents fear the lens

John Adams is a real estate broker, investor, and is learning about video. He answers real estate questions every Sunday at 3 p.m. on WGKA-am(920). He welcomes your comments at Money99.com, where you will find an expanded version of this column plus several short videos.

As I watch the real estate market continue to recover, I look for trends I can share with you here.

In marketing residential real estate, the trend is all about the Internet. Buyers see agents as threatening and the Internet as their friend. Both perceptions are fundamentally flawed, but they exist. So the savvy agent needs to recognize this trend, and stop fighting it.

But getting them to do so is like pulling teeth.

Many agents, like the typical human, will face death with greater resolve than the prospect of being the subject of a video, however brief.

Most well-adjusted adults find being on camera (or on stage or in front of a microphone) terrifying. Hearts race, palms sweat, and minds go blank. These reactions tend to produce a less than optimal impression on the viewer, further reinforcing a commitment to avoid cameras, stages and/or microphones in the future.

This is unfortunate, especially for real estate professionals. Here’s why:

1. Real estate agents have a credibility problem. With the housing meltdown fresh on everyone’s minds, a recent Choice Home Warranty survey found 67.5 percent of Americans don’t trust real estate agents. Nearly 70 percent of people under age 44 said they do not trust agents.

2. Video boosts trust and likability, while written words do not. In the late ’60s, Dr. Albert Mehrabian studied various forms of delivery in communication. He found that when someone is talking about feelings or emotions, adding video dramatically boosts trust in the words being said. A lot of communication is nonverbal, specifically our tone and facial expressions.

This is important to real estate agents because buying a home is an extremely emotional decision. The home is where the heart is.

Because buying real estate is emotional, the best way to build trust and credibility with prospective buyers and sellers is with video.

Today, the average laptop computer can easily produce high-definition videos that just a few years ago would have required tens of thousands of dollars in professional video equipment. And YouTube can capture, edit, store and share your video. All for free.

Now we all know you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

I recently taught a class of almost 100 enthusiastic agents about Google Tools for Real Estate, and I challenged them to create a 90-second video introducing themselves and to send it to me. Within 24 hours.

Guess how many did? You guessed it! One. Only one. I know people are busy, and I know agents have tremendous demands on their time, and taking a video of yourself is a little scary. But come on now. Only one. Sad.

Anyway, if you’d like to learn a little about the basics of creating short videos that separate you from your competition, I recommend you start with a free video school at

Enter “Video 101” into the search box and press enter. You might want to start with “Choosing A Camera.” Vimeo is similar to YouTube, and offers free storage and sharing.

If you are a prospective buyer or seller looking for a good agent who is willing to master new technology for your benefit, find one who uses video clips as part of his marketing. If you can.