Drone to 1K Season 2 / Episode 10: Fred Light from Nashua Video Tours


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Fred owns and operates Nashua Video Tours, a real estate video and photography company.

David: ”Tell us about your company.”

Fred has been doing this for 15 years, starting with putting video online. Because the internet didn’t support video very well, realtors didn’t have computers, or didn’t know what the internet was—it didn’t work out too well. When he was just about to quit, the real estate market tanked and people needed ways to sell properties. At that point, flash became the de facto way of delivering video but there were three or four different types of platforms and none of them were compatible with each other. When broadband came into play and the internet became predominant, Fred realized he could do it.

Fred had started doing realtor websites. He jokes, “I’ve never wanted to be in this world, I just fell into it and I haven’t been able to climb out yet.” He says back then, you’d buy a template so websites all looked exactly the same—nothing stood out. What became popular were 360-degree tours that were not well put together; that was when Fred thought that a video walk-through of the house made sense because then you could see the layout and the flow.

“I just had this bright idea that it would be a way to do something different—but nobody was doing it because they couldn’t. I really got started out of frustration trying to differentiate these people.”

David: “Let’s start from when the internet was working, you could put video on the internet, and you had a drone. How did using a drone change things for you— if it did?”

Fred says he’d been in the video real estate video space by himself for years but as more people got into it, he needed to differentiate himself again. Back then, you could fly drone for commercial purposes with no licensing, and everything was still very fuzzy.

For Fred, the real estate market has been an odd place to be. Some realtors think they can get their nephew to buy a drone and let him take pictures, or they don’t see that you need to have a license. We  know there’s a difference between having a drone and pushing a button to take a picture or video—and being a photographer with a drone.

“If you don’t know how to use your camera, you’re not a photographer, you don’t have the right eye or the right equipment and you don’t know how to do it, so it’s not going to look very good. The drone is the least important part of the equation.”

Fred says it’s nice to show how a property sits on a big piece of land, but flying around, looking at the roof and gutters, then left and right and up and down for three minutes isn’t all it’s about. A simple top down picture of the roof of a ranch with an ugly front yard and an ugly backyard with dead grass is horrible; it’s more of a detriment than a help. If you’re trying to promote a real property, you don’t want to show the crap in the neighbor’s yard or graffiti on the driveway or bad shingles. Fred advises that you should be truthful, but also show people the highlights. They’ll realize that the roof needs replacing or that there’s a highway back there, but you don’t want to promote that right up front.

When Fred shoots a house he does the video, interior, exterior stills, floor plans, all of it—he has about five different cameras for different things, including a camera he can stick out of the top of his car to show the neighborhood—and, of courses, he has a drone. He doesn’t use all of those for every property but chooses what he thinks makes sense. Driving through the neighborhood, for example, his goal is to show whether it’s an older or newer neighborhood, if houses are setback from the street or are right on the street with the trees. His goal is to present the property in the best light.

“I treat the drone as just another tool. When I get to a property, I either choose to use it or I don’t. It’s my choice. I don’t want someone saying I need to.”

Also, Fred sees a lot of video from new drone pilots that’s too high because the pilot is thinking about max altitude when it’s more important to think about what they’re looking at. Sometimes, Fred doesn’t even know what he’s looking at.

David: “The thing people struggle a lot with is wanting to get into this—whether it’s real estate marketing, promo videos or photography—but don’t really have good methods or know how to get a first client. What advice would you give someone? How would you go about starting fresh?”

Fred teamed up with a friend who is a realtor and did all of his first stuff for free. He was able to practice, but also able to get stuff out there for other people to see.

“What I did then, I still do now. I make it very easy for someone to find me. It’s not a secret. I put my name, phone number, and website at the end of every video. I’ve done a lot of these and I’ve never had anybody tell me to take my name off. The biggest thing is if nobody knows how to find you, how are they going to know how to find you?”

Fred says the real estate business is a lot of repeat business. He doesn’t even want new business because his regular customers keep him really busy. He says clients want to use you for everything—for every listing. The smart realtors understand you have to spend money to make money but they’re busy too; they don’t want to call a photographer, then a videographer, then a drone guy, then a floor plan guy. They call Fred and he goes to house, spends 2-3 hours at the property and does all of it.

David: What do you typically charge for a job when you do everything—photos, some video, and some drone. What does your full package include? What’s a typical price you would charge for that?”

For under 4,000 ft2 and just video, he charges $300-$400. For a full package with drone, floor plans, etc, Fred charges $800. He says that realtors want to pay $300-$500 but if you’re spending the same amount of time, it’s not worth it to not make enough money. Fred sees people either charging too much and complaining because they’re only shooting one house a month or charging too little that are going to burn out.

When someone calls him, Fred tells them to look at his YouTube channel, plug in their house to any video, and that’s what theirs will look like. It all doesn’t take very long, and you don’t have people wanting to change stuff because expectations are set at the beginning. He does charge $100 if someone wants to change anything.

“What I give my clients is very fast turnaround at a fair price. What people don’t understand about realtors is they care that you’re accessible and affordable (which doesn’t mean cheap) and that you turn it around fast and are dependable. That’s all that matters.”

Fred says that the most valuable part of the video is getting the listing. It’s not about selling the house, the house will sell by itself. It’s about getting the listing. If you’re a listing agent, you’re competing with two or three other brokers. The reality is if you’re out there at a listing presentation with a seller and you’re offering video and the other two aren’t, then you have an advantage. Not many use video. Sellers want it…buyers love it. He says it’s funny cause you think if everybody wanted it, more people would do it. But because it’s so difficult to do, a lot of people stay away from it because they can’t figure out how to price it. It’s really all about workflow—shooting as best you can to get what you need, shooting it so your editing time is minimal, and having the right equipment so you can process it quickly and get it out the door.

David: “I’ve heard from other people that are also really successful that they focused on knowing one thing and how to repeat it easily. They can set a reasonable price and then scale it. It’s easy for them to knock out projects because they know exactly what to do. Would you agree with that?”

What Fred is seeing now with new people getting into the real estate video space is they think it’s boring. They’re neglecting to create video for the intended viewer—a potential buyer or a seller who’s going to be using that for their house. According to Fred, people want to see the layout and flow of the house.

“I’m a creative person who would love to do something different, but at the end of the day, this is what they want and this is why they keep buying what I’m selling. My videos are all 3-7 minutes long and people are commenting on different things that they’re seeing so you know they’re watching the whole thing.”

David: “What’s your main piece of parting wisdom to someone new to the drone space?”

Fred says you’ve got to sell something people want, not what YOU want. You have to put your feelings aside. Give your customer what they want, and they’ll be willing to pay you for it. He says you really have to understand the intended demographic that you’re shooting for. If you’re filming a $2 million house, you don’t make it look like a music video. That’s not what people want to see or hear. Real estate video is boring to everyone except the person that’s wanting to buy the house. That’s the reality. People have this false idea that it has to be a minute and a half or nobody’s going to watch the video, so they try to take this great big house and shorten it to fit it in 1:30’. That’s not gonna work.

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