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Zillow builds mobile-first video walkthroughs for smartphone-savvy homebuyers

Zillow is bringing a streamlined real estate experience to mobile in a bid to attract consumers searching for new homes, allowing them to undertake video walkthroughs prior to viewing the property in-person.

Zillow?s for-sale listings will now maintain a strong video component, aimed at giving potential buyers more information about special attributes and key features that might set one home apart from another. As real estate brands continue to ramp up their mobile offerings, consumers can expect to see more video-based tutorials and walkthroughs come to light.

?Mobile is a top priority for us,? said Jeremy Wacksman, chief marketing officer of Zillow, Seattle. ?The bulk of our audience is connecting with Zillow through a mobile device, which makes sense as real estate is an inherently mobile business.

?We?ve put a huge emphasis in developing mobile apps. Our apps were among the original apps to launch on the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Our apps continue to be the top-rated real estate apps available.?

Opening new doors
Consumers using Zillow?s digital platform to scout potential new properties can now take advantage of the video walkthroughs. The short clips are created to better cater to the browsing behavior of homebuyers, who are increasingly turning to mobile when doing initial research.

Zillow reports that two-thirds of its traffic stems from mobile devices these days. On weekends, the number skyrockets to more than 70 percent of traffic, underscoring why real estate brands must have a strong presence on consumers? smartphones.

The videos run for a maximum of two minutes and do not contain audio. Each clip follows the same format, offering viewers a consistent experience and enabling them to more easily engage in making comparisons with different homes.

Buyers will be able to enjoy a new way of exploring their desired markets and narrowing down the list of properties they would like to visit in-person. If they are searching for a particular amenity in a home, the video will allow them to receive a 360-degree view.

Additionally, some customers could be searching for features that are hard to describe in writing, such as the amount of natural light in the kitchen. Agents and sellers can subsequently leverage the video walkthroughs to give interested individuals an accurate sense of the property.

This can save time for all parties involved. For example, if a couple is unsure whether they are interested in a specific home, they can view the accompanying video and decide if the property is worth their time. 

Consumers looking to sell their properties will likely have an easier time doing so, thanks to the video walkthroughs. Zillow?s mobile site offers instructions on how best to shoot a clip that showcases the beauty of their homes.

?This is a great example of how homebuyers and consumers expect 24/7 access to information on their mobile devices,? said Jason van den Brand, CEO of Lenda, San Francisco. ?There is no question that people are always attached to their phones, so it?s a logical step for Zillow to provide this feature.

?With mobile already representing two-thirds of its overall traffic, this will improve the user experience for potential homebuyers,? he said. ?The video walkthroughs should allow potential buyers to look at listings at a time that is convenient for them without having to get in a car and drive to the listing.

?This could lead to faster closings because potential buyers will only physically walk through a home if they are seriously considering buying it.?

Tying in mobile
The real estate industry is becoming increasingly reliant on mobile, as evidenced by the vast numbers of individuals choosing to start the home browsing process on their personal devices.

Fellow real estate firm Century 21's use of text overlays and a strong call-to-action for a recent mobile native video campaign resonated with consumers, with more than 25,000 video views at a cost of $0.02 per view after the first five days (see story).

Meanwhile, last spring, Move Inc.?s unrolled a new graphic identity for its Web site and mobile apps, tapping Hollywood actress and director Elizabeth Banks to represent the brand in a series of mobile-optimized Web videos designed to reach more on-the-go consumers (see story).

?Mobile is already playing a crucial part in the real estate search process,? Zillow?s Mr. Wacksman said. ?People are already using their devices to do a lot of their home search research, whether that be on their phone, tablet or watch, and they want to consume the content wherever they are.

?Building video walkthroughs to be mobile first is just the natural extension of that trend.?