September 16, 2020 Chicago Landlord Advice & News

A Guide to Video Walkthrough Tours for Apartment Landlords

Renters looking to get an inside preview of a Chicago apartment for rent will be satisfied to find a walkthrough video shared conveniently on the listing. Apartment landlords and brokers who advertise on Domu can easily do this by copying a YouTube video link and pasting it in the designated field for their Domu apartment listing. Creating a useful apartment walkthrough video that showcases the property will attract more attention and stronger interest from renters in a crowded marketplace. A quality video can also effectively persuade renters to visit the apartment in person, a major prelude to signing the apartment lease.

It's easier said than done, of course. But there are many reasons why landlords shouldn't overlook the importance of a video for their apartment listings. Video walkthrough tours of apartments for rent can have pretty immediate impact on the success of a listing.

Apartment Video Tours on the Rise for Renters, Landlords 

Video is quickly overtaking other forms of media as the preferred content type on the internet. Publishers, marketers, and apartment brokers can all agree that video is the rising platform for engaging and useful content across the web. Group Fox, one of the largest multi-family property managers in Chicago, relies heavily on video tours across their citywide portfolio. And the importance of having accessible videos has only increased during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to Group Fox. "We're able to showcase our apartments and specific features through both pre-recorded videos and live video chat," Group Fox says. A renter can virtually tour the wide open floor plans in the Van der Rohe Apartments, a Lakeview apartment tower managed by Group Fox, from the convenience of their current home.

"People who aren't comfortable touring in person or are moving to Chicago from out of town are able to tour their potential home from the comfort of their own couch," Group Fox added.

So why hasn't your apartment video been uploaded yet? Domu quizzed professional real estate videographer and photographer Chicago FW Media to get an expert's take on what most amateur videographers tend to get wrong in making real estate videos. This post will look at some of the perceived obstacles to creating walkthrough videos and explain how landlords and brokers can overcome those hurdles while making engaging videos for their listings.

Hurdle #1: I Don't Know What to Film in My Chicago Apartment Walkthrough Video. Where Do I Begin?

Landlords and brokers should be selective with what they showcase in a video walkthrough. Even if it's a small studio apartment or 1 bedroom apartment, a video should primarily highlight the most important and photogenic aspects of that apartment right off the bat. Don't worry about covering all the small details but make sure the camera captures the best "wow" factors.

Are there nice floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room? How about a versatile kitchen island? Is there a balcony? What about the view, is there a city skyline view or is Lake Michigan visible? Point out these natural selling points and let the camera linger on them.

"Diversify you camera movements," explains Chicago FW Media, "take for example entering rooms: Your first shot might be you walking into a room in a straight line, the next scene might then cut to you panning horizontally across the room." Keep the camera movements varied so that the video doesn't become repetitive.

It's fine if the video expands to include an exhaustive list of the apartment features, but viewers will take only a few seconds to formulate an impression of the apartment. Make those first moments count!

Consider starting by entering the front door and then capturing what renters will see after stepping through the entrance. Switching lenses is one way that videographers can capture details of various sizes, for example using a "a 50mm or even an 85mm to capture detailed shots of shower heads, lighting fixtures, stain glass windows etc." according to Chicago FW Media.

Hurdle #2: I Want More People to Watch My Apartment Video. What Should I Do With It?

Landlords are creating a valuable marketing asset for their listing when they produce a video. So the next important step should be sharing that valuable resource with as many potential renters as possible! YouTube is the most popular place to watch and share videos, with 73 percent of adults in the United States using YouTube according to Pew Research. And this site is actually one of the most popular search engines on the web as well.

Think of all the resources a renter might find while browsing YouTube: advice for cooking in their apartment, tips on decorating their space, travel guides for their next road trip or vacation, and the list goes on. Putting apartment walkthrough videos on YouTube can be a winning strategy for landlords who want more exposure for their vacant properties (and YouTube is currently the only video platform supported by Domu listings, so definitely start there).

There's the indespinsable YouTube of course, but renters also spend time watching videos on their social media feeds. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Twitter, Tik Tok and Snapchat all support video. It takes some legwork to post individually to all the separate social platforms but as long as the video is posted with clear instructions on how to contact the leasing agent or the landlord, it should be time well spent.

Hurdle #3: I Don't Have a Professional Camera or Editing Software. What Can I Do?

This is probably one of the larger mental barriers to most landlords who've been reluctant on producing video tours of their apartments. Not having a sophisticated digital video camera or professional-grade dSLR may seem like a major impediment to producing quality video, but there are workarounds possible with a smartphone. Smartphones can do decent work of simulating good video production with a few minor adjustments and light editing.

Many smartphone cameras are capable of recording HD video and come with software that's capable of trimming video clips or combining several shorter video clips into one larger composite file. Head over to our landlord advice post on apartment photography to see some free and paid smartphone apps that we recommend for landlords who rely on their phones to produce media for their apartment listing.

Will videos made entirely on smartphones hold up to a professional video with music, titles and smooth camera movements? It's not really a fair comparison. Rather than compare an on-the-fly smartphone video to a professionally shot and edited apartment video, keep in mind that renters will still get a better look at the apartment with a DIY video versus having no video at all. And there are professional real estate photographers and videographers in Chicago who can produce exemplary videos at reasonable rates.

If you're a landlord who's been on the fence about creating video walkthroughs for their apartment listings then you should get off the fence and into the director's chair! Having that extra look inside could be enough to persuade curious renters to book a follow up apartment tour. And in a tough renter's market, that may be all the motivation that landlords and brokers need to discover their inner filmmaker.