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Interview of VScreen CEO, Stephen Schweickart, by Marketing Immobilier

Lionel LATHAM : We have the last conversation on trends. Let’s talk about the Hyperlapse tool Instagram , which made ​​me look interesting. We saw a demo that you sent me. This is the kind of tool that allows an amateur to produce excellent video quality with stabilization, contrast, settings and all that follows . For you, it is a good product, especially for videos of neighborhoods.

Stephen Schweickart  : Yeah, I think it’s a useful tool. I think every property should enjoy good photography to show the parts of the house. However, it lacks, in my opinion, two things most advertisements. The first is that I want to see the environment in which the house stands, it allows for qu’Hyperlapse. You know, you can use Google Street View. I remember when my sister moved into a house in the southeast of Paris, I wanted to see so I went on Google Street View. It’s as if I was walking in the streets.

Stephen Schweickart  : And that’s how I was able to see where is she lived before going to visit him in person and see the streets by myself. But now, with Hyperlapse, you can walk for 10 minutes in your neighborhood and make it a 30-second video that guides the user and allowing him to see all that was in the vicinity.

So you outside the house and a very close neighborhood vision. You also have the pictures of the inside of the house. But for me, another thing that is missing and qu’Hyperlapse allows for is the ability to link the pictures from inside the house. So I can see a picture of the show. Generally, one can see a photo of the living room, then a picture of the kitchen, without knowing how those parts are connected or how the house is laid out.

With Hyperlapse you enter the door with your laptop and you walk through the house and in every room. And here you have a video of 30 to 60 seconds to guide you through the whole house. You can then view the overall layout of the rooms. And between pictures, the Hyperlapse from inside the house and the neighborhood, I think it is a very effective tool. And as it was announced yesterday presented, so it is a very new tool.

Lionel LATHAM  : So that means it will take on even greater significance. This is one more argument to avoid hiring a professional video. In fact, these tools provide more and more opportunities for the agent to produce their own videos, or even an owner who wants to add information. Do you think that later, say in five years, he There will always be room for these custom well made ​​professional videos?

Stephen Schweickart  : I think somewhere, there will always be a place for these videos. I do not know if you know Matterport, a company that has launched a program earlier this year. This is a camera of 5 000R $ 4,500 you put in every corner of the room. The pictures you take are photos 360. Then the software combines pictures in order to give the user the ability to browse literally the entire house.

Lionel LATHAM  : This is an interactive panoramic vision.

Stephen Schweickart  : Totally interactive and panoramic. But it’s not like I walked into the room to make panoramic photos. I can walk through the house, like on Google Street View. I can go and look in that direction, I can go through this door, down the stairs … It’s really awesome. I think it allows us to see the evolution of the industry. You have video presentations, such as those we do. Then you have very accurate video of what the property is actually, like those of Matterport in which you enter the house and visit. Today, it is still expensive and you have to hire a professional to do the job for you. By cons, Hyperlapse is a version of Matterport accessible to all, with which you can do everything yourself, but you will not have the same experience with Matterport.

I think we will always need to present people with the information of a property on a plateau, among others, do video virtual tours of luxury. However, I think we will see a combination of tools used by different agents, because they meet the needs of their local market more than in another area, by type of property you are selling.

Lionel LATHAM  : What I find amusing, to hear you, it’s the United States, it seems that you want to produce ever more accurate descriptions and content on the property to provide a virtual tour. But in France, when it comes to producing videos and communicate information about the location and all that follows, the agents believe that it will not play to their advantage and they will possibly left take the opportunity to talk openly with someone who has only watched 2 or 3 photos and called. It is through this that they can better understand the needs of the buyer and offer the property that suits him. This is how real estate agents work in France and I get this kind of response very often.

But the United States, this kind of thing does not seem to scare you even think that a buyer can still contact the agent after its own virtual tour.

Stephen Schweickart  :  There are a lot of moving parts in the purchase of a property and people will still need to contact an agent. Secondly, I think there are about 1.2 million real estate agents in the country, but only about 300,000 of them work full-time and really take their job to heart. And it is because of technology: I can decide to become an officer and put me on Zillow and if I pay you money on Zillow, I’d still be head and I could sell you a house. But it’s a shame, because if you want, this method lowers the level of experience you have.

At the same time, the French culture is very different from American culture. When I go to France to visit my sister and we dine out, it’s fantastic, you know. We stay there for a few hours, and all that, it’s usability. Proximity is higher in France than in the United States. I think a large part of the communication in the United States is a bit impersonal and very technology-based. In an elevator, everyone was staring at his phone and they do not even talk to them. It’s totally different in France, though, and that’s one thing I noticed, there is no eye contact.

So yes, I think it’s an interesting model when you look at the difference in the way people communicate.

Lionel LATHAM  : Obviously there are historical and cultural differences behind it. However, there is also an evolution and there are many other things that explain this difference, in my opinion. It’s not easy to summarize it in 5 minutes, but again, the United States, there is no problem showing more details and to complete the online description.

Stephen Schweickart  : Consumers control far more than are 5 or 7 years. I bought a house on a lake in southern Indiana, or on the coast, in a month. I visited a number of houses here last month, with an agent, and I was able to learn 10 times more on what was for sale near Lake: around, culture, local attractions … It m ‘asked: “How do you know all this? “And I said,” Oh, I just spent a few hours doing research online because I know I want to live here and I did not want to waste time looking at homes with you , so that I can inform myself on the 4 properties that I want to see. ”

I have been researching the area, statistics and everything, which simplifies the procedure. I think that as far as the French culture adapts to technology, time is precious. However, I do not think the personal relationship that develops when you are with someone for a visit and throughout the investment and the biggest deal of his life will one day be supplanted. Besides, I do not know how often people move into France.

Lionel LATHAM  : Under the United States anyway.

Stephen Schweickart  : People move more often here and I think they may be experienced enough to do it themselves before hiring an agent. At the same time, I think that’s why it’s less personal than in France where one buys a house in the next 20 years, unlike the United States where you buy a new house every about 7 years. It’s totally different.

Lionel LATHAM  : That’s right. So you’re saying the buyer may find himself home, the neighborhood and surrounding himself. In that case, why did not he would bypass the agent finally? I think it is another pressure the French agents. If I give them too much information, they simply contact the owner by their own means and conclude the matter themselves.

Stephen Schweickart  : I do not think it can happen, and I’ll explain why. When I bought a house recently, I needed the agent. I tried to buy it for myself and since I know a lot about real estate, I said, “I understand all that, I do not need any help.” But once in the transaction, I realized that there was a tree right off the edge of the property. The boundary divides the tree. Who therefore up that tree? I needed an agent to find out.

Apparently they had not paid their taxes for a while and the government had a lien on the house. It is the role of the agent to give me that information. It’s not me who should pay the back taxes and has privileges. I do not know where to get insurance for the house. I do not know how home insurance works in France, but here it is very important. And it is the agent who guided me through all the procedures. The closing documents to sign … We have a statement that the seller must notify me if there are any problems with the house. I need an agent to guide me through this step. Once you’re in the heart of the shopping experience and you find yourself at a table to buy a house, you can not do without an agent.

Lionel LATHAM  : Yes. You do not have that expertise.

Stephen Schweickart  : I do not have either the time, like anyone else! By cons, I have time to do research online and save time, because I know what I want and it’s available to me in the privacy of my living room while I drink wine while eating pasta. I can just look for a house and get all the information you need without going through all these steps with an agent.

Lionel LATHAM  :  How much is there to buy a home in the United States? I guess if you buy a home in the United States, the buyer and the seller comes with an agent?

Stephen Schweickart  :  Usually the percentage that goes into real estate transactions is 6%. Usually 3% to the buyer and the seller 3%. These 3% are decided between the committees and the various ways agent. But generally, the average commission is 3%. Perhaps the agent affects the whole, it may touch in half, according to their relationships and how commissions are defined.

Lionel LATHAM  . Okay Who pays the advertising budget, as investing in a video virtual tour of the property, for example?

Stephen Schweickart  :  Usually the agent.

Lionel LATHAM  : The agent itself. In other words, it is deducted from his commission of 3%?

Stephen Schweickart  :  Yes. There are different ways to do it. The agent buys ads directly to the company. Or, the agent makes a deal of mass, as we do with the video ads, where they can buy thousands.

Lionel LATHAM  : Yes, and it’s not so expensive.

Stephen Schweickart  : Then they gather in agent fees. To be able to hang their license at the agency, an agent must pay $ 100 per month. It is, in a way, their contributions.

Lionel LATHAM  : Perfect. Regarding trends, plans VScreen there to grow in Europe? Are you in a situation where the market is huge? Are you okay with it? Are you planning to expand you in Europe?

Stephen Schweickart:  We discussed it. Actually, during the last 3 months, international applications from UAE to France, to England, Australia, or South Africa , have soared. We’ve probably received more requests from foreign companies during the three months since the last 3 years.

Again, this is “it.” I do not know what exactly, but it is to believe that everything has really shifted in recent months. I can tell you that the video is present on all fronts since the last 18 months , much more than it has ever been. , I am tempted to say that the three topics that are most important today in advertising are: video, mobile technology and how to improve the mobile experience, and finally, I dare say it is the “Uber-sation.” I do not know if you Uberin in France.

Lionel LATHAM  : Yes, we have.

Stephen Schweickart  :  Find an agent on a map and what I can do with this agent. Does he can show me around the property right away , because I find myself in front of the house with my phone. These are probably the three most important issues of the moment in the field of real estate in the United States.

Lionel LATHAM  : Okay. One last question: If you had one piece of advice to give to a French real estate agent, what would it be? Been a little France and you’ve come several times. The culture is different, we’ve talked about. What would you say?

Stephen Schweickart  :  Do not be afraid of technology. Technology is your friend. Feel free to adopt it. It’s not a question of “what” but “when.” She will be present on all fronts in France also. should also know that technology will never replace the fact to support the buyer through all procedures of the transaction. It will only increase your chances of being contacted by buyers and sellers, because you are the local reference for all matters related to real estate and the information they find online. In the United States, over 90% of home buyers begin their searches with Google. 90%. If you invest heavily in technology, consumers will have no trouble finding you. And while it’s possible that they do not buy anything for a year, serve them with the information and technology on a platter and they will not make you lose your time . When it’s time they contact you, a half-day will be enough to convince them to buy, because they have already done all the field work for you. Technology is really your friend, not your enemy. It saves you time and volume.

Lionel LATHAM  : Perfect. In conclusion, thank you Stephen. It was very interesting to have this conversation with you.

How a ‘Video Blueprint’ can save you time, money


By now, virtually every agent understands the value of incorporating video into the marketing of their listings. But, before you run out and hit that record button, be sure to begin with your end goal in mind.

Unlike the notorious phrase, “Shoot first, ask questions later,” preplanning — in other words, asking questions first, THEN shooting (in the video sense) — will reap great dividends. And by dividends, I mean increasing the likelihood that the video will be shared on social media and have people watching it longer — and as a result, you’ll generate more leads.

Just like building a quality house, it takes a blueprint to produce a truly effective video presentation. The same is true with what I’ll call the “video architecture” of a home tour. The most common mistake I see on a daily basis are videos that needlessly run incredibly long, all due to lack of preplanning. Imagine what would happen if you asked a construction company to build you a home, without a blueprint to give to them that outlined what the desired outcome was to be. You’d probably end up with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in addition to spending about four times the money and man-hours required for such a construction project.

That being said, your blueprint should consist of three things: (No. 1) a shot list; (No. 2) a script that is based off of your desired video shots; and (No. 3) a storyboard to tie it all together.

While you may have a short docudrama of a video in mind — and while the property features may be worthy — keep in mind that the average viewer will start to tune out after about 80-90 seconds. Preplanning will help you stick to this length or less. Start by asking the sellers what attracted them to the house when they purchased it and what features they added that they enjoy the most, then use that to build your shot list based on the top 10-15 sellable features of the property. Important: While developing your list of 10 to 15 shots, keep in mind that each one will take up around five to six seconds of “screen time” once the video is fully produced.

Next, write your script around your shot list by telling a story that flows about the home, keeping in mind the five- to six-second rule above. Overall, a professionally narrated 90-second script will consist of around 130 words (give or take). For a house or community video, be sure to focus your script on both the selling features AND the benefits.

Tie it all together with a storyboard, which gives an image-based description of what the viewer will end up seeing in each scene within the video (accompanied by a quick sentence description per image), while taking into consideration the scene flow, what angle to use, what direction to pan, and when to zoom in or out, etc.

Besides helping you shoot a professional-looking presentation, a well-thought-out video blueprint will help you tell a better story, while dramatically cutting the expense of shooting and postproduction under control.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.

What the new iPhone 6 camera and video features mean for real estate


They said it wouldn’t be done. Late Apple founder Steve Jobs, specifically, said his company would never develop a larger smartphone like those rival Samsung and others were deploying, because, in his words, “No one’s going to buy that.”

Now four years later, Apple has introduced — finally — large-screen iPhones that are designed to, well, meet consumer demand. And, just to make sure everyone was happy, Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor as Apple CEO, introduced two new sizes: the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Ironically, some of Apple’s biggest smartphone rivals are reportedly ushering new, smaller models to market to compete with the smaller of the two new iPhone models.

While the new, bigger size is what’s grabbing the most headlines, there are some neat new photo/video related features packed into the latest iteration of Apple’s smartphone. First, Apple has added a new A8 processor in the new iPhones. This will help ensure smooth camera, browsing and app use, but the upgrade may not be too evident except under heavy use.

Like the previous iPhone, the iPhone 6 has an 8-megapixel camera, but this model features what Apple is calling “focus pixels,” a technology previously found only in professional DSLR cameras (this is very important). Enhancements include a sensor that can determine focus direction and how far to move the phone’s lens, plus the ability to lighten or darken a photo from within the preview frame, a Retina HD screen, and image stabilization technology that will reduce shake and make low-light photos better. Bottom line: This phone may stop my relentless jabbing at agents who take photos of listings with their phone, versus using a higher-quality camera.

Video-wise, the new iPhone 6’s will be able to shoot HD video in double the frames per second as the previous model, have cinematic video stabilization, continuous autofocus, improved face detection and the option to record in ultra slow motion for time-lapse videos.

For the user, the benefit is faster focus, brilliant colors, clarity of images and increased video quality, especially in low-light situations. While not revolutionizing the smartphone industry, the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus certainly offer some intriguing photography and video choices for consumers.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.

How to decide which property tour technology is right for you


Every so often, new technology comes along that improves the way we do things, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably noticed Instagram recently introduced Hyperlapse, a free smartphone app that is going to be a game changer for real estate professionals who use audiovisual tools to market their listings.

Agents are typically at the mercy of expensive professional videographers hauling thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment if they want a truly professional video tour of their listing. How quickly things are changing with the release of Hyperlapse, which greatly increases the quality of phone-based video technology; enables any smartphone-equipped agent to walk through the property they’re listing; and produces a smooth and professional-looking walk-through video, regardless of experience. It leaves a lot of room for error (by smoothing out the shakiness), and even my 7-year-old niece could use it and still come out looking like Stephanie Spielberg.

What’s the secret sauce? Built in image stabilization technology. So, while an ordinary video captured on a smartphone or tablet might be shaky and jittery, Hyperlapse technology helps create a smooth, cinematic feel, rivaling video shot with expensive Steadicams or Glidecams, which usually require an experienced (and pricey) operator. The result is a much more professional-looking video that can be shared not only on places like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, but also on an agent’s website.

In addition to saving time and money, the Hyperlapse app enables the agent to control the speed of the time-lapse feature and give viewers a sense of the home’s floor plan and how all the rooms connect, in relation to the property photographs usually found on the listing detail page. It also allows the agent to quickly and efficiently focus on the flow of the listing’s surrounding yard, neighborhood and community, without the need to do hours’ worth of editing afterwards of all the separate shots obtained.

Typically, walk-through videos drag on and on with no end in site, and subsequently suffer from early viewer “abandonment.” The beauty of the Hyperlapse app is that it takes a lengthy and boring walk-through video that would typically rival “Gone With the Wind” and turns it into a condensed 60-second version of the same content that even my attention deficit disorder self would have the attention span to comprehend.

“Free + quality” with your camera phone sounds good, but what about really high-end 3-D? Another virtual tour technology provider, Matterport, sells a sophisticated $4,500 camera and technology that lets buyers move through a listing at their own pace and view the property features or rooms in any order/angle, including a “dollhouse” cutaway view. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel with their team at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco this summer, and was very impressed by their technology and where they were going with it.

Hiring a professional videographer, using a free smartphone app or investing in a high-end 3-D camera are three distinctively different roads to take. When deciding which “property walk-through” video resource is right for you, always remember to consider your time, budget and ease of use.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.