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Aspen firms utilizing YouTube to market real estate

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
A search for "Aspen real estate" on YouTube revealed more than 900 hits on Thursday, as seen in this screen shot. (www.youtube.com/Courtesy photo)
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ASPEN ” Aspen’s contribution to video-sharing website YouTube includes plenty of ski videos, as well as satirical takes on the Aspen lifestyle.

One shows a cheerful black man shaking hands with a stream of representatives from Aspen’s white, upper-middle class while standing under the advertisement “Meet a Black Person.”

But increasingly, Aspen is posting one particular type of video on YouTube: real estate advertisements.

At least three major Aspen real estate firms have been posting YouTube videos recently: Morris Fyrwald Aspen Real Estate, Carol Dopkin Real Estate and Aspen Sotheby’s International Realty.

According to Michel Hefferon, Sotheby’s marketing director, the company has been posting videos of all of its property listings on YouTube for about eight months.

“All day long, we make sure when you type in ‘Aspen,’ you get real estate,” he said of YouTube, as well as other search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Hefferon calls YouTube “a cookie crumb of marketing,” explaining that it is one more piece of the trail between a property and a potential buyer. He said that 80 percent of real estate buyers now start their search online.

“A buyer will now research a property as much as they possibly can before they actually pick up the phone [to call a broker],” said Hefferon.

He added that using YouTube ” or any of a variety of other websites ” is about trying to put inventory in front of Internet users in several different places, where they can find it, when they’re ready to look.

Morris Fyrwald has been posting YouTube videos for about four months, said Craig Morris.

Morris has a “why-not” approach to posting real estate videos on YouTube. Although he acknowledged that high-end clientele weren’t necessarily going to be perusing YouTube, he pointed out that advertising on the website wasn’t a huge investment of resources.

“It’s fairly reasonable for us, price-wise, to do it, and it can’t hurt,” he said. “The more exposure we can get for our listings, the better it is for our clients.”

Curiously, all the YouTube real estate videos strongly resemble each other, even across company lines.

Most feature the same video montage of horses in a field of yellow flowers, a couple dining, a sailboat, an all-terrain vehicle barreling down a dirt road and people participating in a variety of snowsports.

As background music plays, the video clips are interspersed with pictures of property for sale. Near the top of the screen phrases such as “Near world-class recreation!” “Near the mountain lifestyle you desire!” and “Near the historic town of Aspen” flash across the screen.

Hefferon explained that most companies are likely using the same software to produce the videos. An automated system takes listings and adds the Aspen video, some motion, music and an interactive map. Originally, Sotheby’s purchased exclusive rights to the software, said Hefferon, but the company has since changed its mind about the need for such rights.

But whether YouTube is actually delivering new clients to the real estate agencies remains to be seen.

Morris pointed out he would only be able to measure YouTube’s effectiveness if clients began telling him that they were calling because they’d seen a video. So far, that hasn’t happened.

But Hefferon is optimistic about the ultimate power of tools such as YouTube, pointing out that today’s YouTube users are the ones who will be buying real estate tomorrow.

“And today,” he added suddenly, as if acknowledging the quickly changing world of the Internet.

kredding@aspentimes.com


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