When marketing premium homes, real estate videos are king. From Instagram’s 30-second vertical videos that showcase properties to $40,000 estate films with storylines––moving image has become a preferred tool to engage qualified buyers.
While video production is now democratized––anyone can create a short film or even a documentary on a cell phone using apps––real estate firms often look to professional creators for content.
“Colorado Mountain Homes”––a new video series employed by Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate––strives to give viewers “something more watchable and informative, more than just a one-off house,” says Matt Rollins who produces the series with business partner Scott Haws. The pair co-founded Salt Lake City-based Narr8 Media in 2014.
Since 2019, Narr8 Media has produced real estate videos for Slifer Smith & Frampton. For 60 years, Slifer Smith & Frampton has represented Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone communities. It recently expanded its reach to the Boulder Valley with the acquisition of Colorado Landmark Realtors, and prior to that, Denver, Aspen, and the Roaring Fork Valley.
Each of the monthly “Colorado Mountain Homes” videos details three to four homes and runs no longer than five minutes. Haws, a former NBC news anchor, scripts and narrates the videos, sometimes appearing on camera. Rollins acts as the creative director, shooting and editing the work. Stringers are hired as needed.
Rollins previously worked in news stations doing marketing and promotion; both partners have also sold homes.
In a recent “Colorado Mountain Homes episode,” Krista Klees, President of Slifer Smith & Frampton Roaring Fork Valley, appears on camera detailing a $25 million 5,000-square foot home at the base of Aspen Mountain. As the narrator, Scott also talks up the home’s features, his voice paired with video of the exterior, interior, and standout features. B-roll of Aspen Mountain completes the tight edit.
The segments also include a “newsy” insight into the local market.
“We mention price points, what inventory is moving, what people are wanting,” says Rollins whose firm has produced more than 200 videos for Slifer Smith & Frampton. In the home Klees brokered, Haws explains that the average price for a single-family home in Aspen has accelerated––from $6.5 million in 2018 to $18.5 million in 2022.
That video was posted on the home’s dedicated Slifer Smith & Frampton website in February, and the property, listed for $25 million, “went under contract in early April,” Klees says. “The buyers saw the video, and then flew out to see the home.”
Klees adds that anyone can look at “beautiful pictures of a property, but the videos elevate it to that next level––you really start to grasp the essence of a home. It’s a step up from Matterport property tours.” (Matterport is a 3D space capture platform that enables shoppers to explore homes using immersive interactive 3D models.)
Narr8 Media partners with Slifer Smith & Frampton at a corporate level, “which is different than any of our other clients,” says Haws who with Rollins serves clients in major markets charging from $500 to $6,000 per video.
“Narr8 doesn’t seem like a vendor,” says Sara Roberts Slifer Smith & Frampton’s Vice President of Marketing who oversees 320 brokers in 33 offices. “They feel like a part of the company as if they’re our in-house production team.”
A recent video created by Narr8 for the independent Colorado brokerage features an 11,000-square-foot Vail, Colorado home billed as “one of the finest homes ever built in the Rockies.” It’s located in the gated community of Mountain Star. Haws appears on camera driving a cherry red Rubicon Jeep along a mountain-view-packed road leading to the home’s gates.
Inside, he shows off the soaring great room and the stunning vistas. He also rappels off a rock-climbing wall, a grin on his boyish face.
The home sold for $20.25 million in May 2022.
During a two-week campaign, the video targeted key metro areas: Denver, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Greenwich, Boca Raton, Naples, and San Diego. Analytics show that exposure topped out at 88,743 active buyer views with 32,654 of those engaging with the video in some form, including 622 clicks on the property listing site.
“We want viewers who would actually pay $13 million for a home,” says Roberts whose team consists of 10 core staff that includes four marketing managers. There are also 45 marketing coordinators she oversees with the Vice President of Operations.
A Bachelor Gulch Village home that Narr8 filmed in 2021 sold for $16 million within a few weeks after the video was distributed. “That house was a 10 out of a 10,” Haws says of the 10,000-square foot-plus home. “It really hit on all cylinders.” His firm also manages Slifer Smith & Frampton’s YouTube channel.
Narr8 believes it’s found the sweet spot in luxury real estate video production––between the $25-$30,000 estate productions that employ actors and plotted intrigue to grab eyeballs, and 30-second Instagram vertical videos, some being simple slideshows paired with music and text.
“Once a home is priced above $5 million, you start to see unique features, elements that are compelling from a story standpoint,” Haws says. “The higher the price, the more those attributes amplify. An expertly crafted video can showcase that, and also deliver great brand recognition.”
Narr8 Media employs a compact equipment package that includes Sony cameras and numerous lenses, lights, wireless mics, DJI drones, and a 360 omnidirectional camera for novel shots. “We find creative ways to showcase the ‘gee whiz’ features of a home, including shooting multiple angles of rooms,” Rollins says.
Rollins aims for at least one money shot per video.
“I’ll take a camera and punch it through a double-sided fireplace and then crane the camera all the way to show how big the rooms are,” Rollins says. “We have a lot of fun.”
Back in the studio, Haws logs the footage, writes a script, and records voiceovers. Rollins executes the edit, adding music, text, b-roll, and graphics.
Haws estimates that the pair have marketed over $5 billion worth of properties during the past decade––“with 80% of the listings selling within the first six months of a video launch,” he says. Narr8 Media’s analytics show a “watch rate” of three times the industry standard, which is the length of time users view a video.
Roberts is impressed with the firm’s turnaround time that’s sometimes within 24 hours and often within 48 hours after Narr8 leaves a shoot location. “That they’re ready to be anywhere at a moment’s notice is incredible,” she says.
Haws and Rollins credit that nimble efficiency to their television broadcast days when they cut their teeth on breaking news cycles with crushing same-day deadlines.
Slifer Smith & Frampton brokers have largely embraced the firm’s passion for video. But not every agent is camera ready.
“I am definitely not an on-camera person, it’s not my forte, you know?” Klees says. She was intrigued, however, with how to strike an authentic poise while avoiding appearing scripted.
Haws and Rollins say Klees nailed it.
“They do it quickly so you don’t have time to overthink,” Klees says. Rollins’ adept editing helps as he excises ums and ahs, along with stumbles brokers may make. A teleprompter is used as needed, and Haws sometimes interviews brokers to help put them at ease.
While brokers are not often used in vertical videos, Roberts says she’s now seeing the advantages of that brisk format––what Narr8 terms its “RoofRush” product, a 30-second promo spot often posted on Instagram or TikTok.
“We haven’t dived into TikTok yet, but that’s in the plan,” Roberts says.
Real estate agents discovered TikTok during the height of the pandemic, with some continuing to receive stellar marketing results. The platform has 150 million active users in the United States.