Note: This article was last updated January 2021
While video is not a new trend, it seems commercial real estate firms around the country are just now realizing what a powerful storytelling tool it can be. Real estate firms have begun devoting significant time and resources to create beautifully crafted commercial real estate videos to tell the stories of the properties they are marketing.
At AQUILA, we pride ourselves on staying at the forefront of real estate marketing. We even employ a full-time Video Producer, Patrick Morrison, to help us better educate our clients and tell the stories of our properties on our YouTube Channel.
Ever in search of inspiration to use on our own clients’ projects, Patrick and I started to compile a list of our favorite property videos from across the nation. Since no central resource like this exists we decided to put together a “Best Of” list to serve as inspiration for others and maybe even challenge real estate firms to get even more creative with their property video executions.
For simplicity, in this list we stick to office properties for lease. And, because we are an Austin-based firm, Austin videos may be a little over-represented on this list, but that’s because we see so many of them coming out of our market!
We watched hours of videos to narrow it down to the best-of-the-best that were ultimately selected.
We watched hours of videos to narrow it down to the top ten that were ultimately selected.
Have a video you think should have made the list? (See below for details on where to send your link if you think your video should be included on this or a future list.)
Though we weren’t privy to budgets for these projects, we guess that they range from $5,000 to $200,000 for a single video. To select the finalists I tried to focus less on budget and more on creativity, uniqueness and execution.
In no particular order, here they are:
13 Best Examples of Commercial Real Estate Video Marketing
1. Uptown Station
What I love about this video is just how different it is from most property videos I see. This video brings emotion, storytelling and amazing visuals to bear, leaving the audience with a strong impression of the project. It is a video truly made for tenants, not brokers.
The video makes use of a well-written and acted voice-over, which is rare for videos in this genre, but is done nicely and in a way that adds value to the video.
What is particularly impressive is how the beautiful live-action footage and time-lapse images meld so perfectly with the 3D-rendered footage that it’s difficult to tell which shots are real and which aren’t.
While I don’t leave knowing exactly what intersection this sits at or which fast-casual restaurants are across the street, I have a strong understanding of the building’s ethos and a strong connection to its message — something I think is much more powerful.
And apparently, payment processing app Square identified with the message as well, announcing in December of 2018 that it was taking all 356,000 SF of the office space at Uptown Station, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
2. 405 Colorado
I could seriously watch this video over and over again. The music is powerful and pulls you in from the beginning. Made to market a new high-rise office building in downtown Austin, Texas, what makes this video unique is how it truly presents the building through a tenant’s eyes – from the inside out.
While the video begins by orienting you with the Austin skyline and an exterior 3D rendering of the building, it quickly pulls you inside, showing off all the modern building features and amenities as well as the workspace. While most videos for new developments focus on the building’s exterior, this one spends the bulk of its time on the inside.
I often say that most real estate professionals view a building from the outside in and tenants view it from the inside out. The audience for this video is very clearly a user, and it’s one of the first I have seen that was created to appeal to a tenant first and broker second.
Showing what the views of Austin will look like from within the building is a special added bonus that brings a thoughtful and detailed touch.
The integration of live actors over the rendered video frames makes it feel so real, as if this building already exists. Though this video was produced in Canada, the marketing director who produced it told me they actually mailed wardrobe choices including Kendra Scott earrings (an Austin-based jewelry retailer) to their production team to make every piece of it feel authentically Austin.
Lastly, I love the length of this video. Coming in at one minute and forty seconds it is the second shortest video on this list. It doesn’t feel too short nor too long – it’s just right.
3. 1770 Crystal Dr.
Type: Office Redevelopment
Created by: Arqui300
Location: Crystal City, Virginia
The video for 1770 Crystal Drive does an excellent job of showcasing a building that is undergoing a major redevelopment. Created circa 2015, this video was truly before its time.
Highlighting a Class B office building in Crystal City near Washington D.C. that was getting a Class A makeover, the use of drone footage and animated 3D-rendered video brings a previously tired-looking building to life.
This video has a compelling use of live actors transposed on top of 3D renderings that make for a uniquely realistic experience. I particularly love the ending shots (around 2:51) that show the building lit up at night.
Others found this video compelling too – as of publishing it had over 2,000 views on YouTube. Also, in late 2018 it was announced that Crystal City was one of the two cities selected for Amazon’s HQ2, and that, according to Washtonian.com, the online retail giant would be taking space at this building.
5. Arena Tower
Full disclosure: I had a hand in the making of this video. But to exclude it from the list for that reason felt wrong since I truly believe it’s one of the best recent examples of a property marketing video.
This video gives me goosebumps. Unlike most commercial real estate videos, it was designed to draw on the emotional experience of the building rather than its features. By juxtaposing 3D renderings of the building with dramatic “experience” clips, it serves to give you an idea of what the building will feel like, not just look like.
(It’s also interesting to watch the Arena Tower Virtual Tour Video, a second, broker-focused cut of this film afterward to see what a feature-driven video looks like and how much less impactful it is.)
This new development will be located next to Austin’s new professional football stadium, and I love that the film helps tie the feeling of a win on the field to a big win at work. This video is meant to engage and captivate business decision-makers, but also makes it feel real to tenant rep brokers.
One of the most interesting pieces of this video is the sound design. Each crowd cheer, firework crack, glass clink, motorcycle rev and whoosh of a golf swing truly helps draw the viewer into the experience.
This is one you’ll need to watch several times to truly appreciate all the layers it offers.
5. Houston Center
I never thought I’d say this about a property video, but this one is downright fun! After working with brokers and developers for years, I’ve learned most like to play it safe. Brookfield Properties took a step outside the box with this video for its multi-building redevelopment in Houston, but it paid off.
It’s perfectly creative and unexpected, but also refined and well produced.
The video may start in outer space, but give it a few seconds. The video does an excellent job of showcasing the redevelopment and establishing a new identity for the portfolio. You just have to watch it to see for yourself!
6. Bay Park Centre (Now CIBC Square)
Created by: DBOX
Type: New Office
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Property website: http://www.cibcsquare.com
Before it was renamed CIBC Square after its anchor tenant, this Toronto office complex was called Bay Park Centre.
While there are a lot of videos on this list for new buildings that give off a trendy/creative vibe, this video puts forth a grand, sophisticated and professional image for the project. This goes to show how video can go a long way in defining a personality and brand for your project.
The professionalism, stunning imagery and well-scripted voiceover earned this video a spot on our list.
CIBC Square will be home to the new global headquarters for CIBC, as well as the future Canadian headquarters of Boston Consulting Group and Microsoft. You can see a version of the video that was recut without the voiceover and now includes a logo for the anchor tenant on its new website: www.cibcsquare.com.
7. Place Bonaventure
This video packs a ton of information into two minutes. Featuring a complicated project that layers hotel, office and retail together, this video does a great job of orienting you to all the uses and then breaking down key features that would be attractive to specific user types.
The way the live footage and rendered clips are portrayed as continuous with no cuts is impressive. It does a great job of truly letting you “tour” the space.
Lastly, I love how they used 3D renderings to paint a picture of what the space could look like with various user types, be it big-box retail or creative office.
8. East River
How would you create a property video and sell a vision for a property that you don’t even have a rendering for? This video answers that question.
For a video that doesn’t give one glimpse of an office building, it does an amazing job of selling the vision for the project.
Much like the Uptown Station video earlier on this list, the video utilizes an emotionally scripted voice-over to narrate. The imagery is powerful and I very much enjoyed the diversity and realness this video brings to bear.
Not until the one minute mark does it make mention of the property it’s selling, and even that part is brief.
I also love the ending: the invitation to be a part of the project instead of a call to sell it. I think there are a lot of takeaways from this video that other developers and real estate brokers could learn from.
9. Salesforce Tower Chicago
Drama. That’s the theme of this video and it totally works. The historical references, stunning imagery and dramatic tone make this video stand out amongst a sea of mundane property videos.
Salesforce Tower Chicago sits on Wolf Point along the Chicago River, land that is owned by the Kennedy family. For the voiceover, CO OP, the building’s creative team, researched speeches done by great leaders and wrote a script in the tonality of JFK as a nod to the history of the land.
This video goes to show that breaking the script and taking a risk can seriously pay off.
10. Third + Shoal
While at first this video looks a lot like some of the others on the list, there were a few key features that make it interesting and compelling enough to include.
First, this video is one of the only ones to focus most of its time on the surrounding neighborhood and lifestyle rather than the building itself. Of the two and a half minutes, most of the footage is dedicated to painting a picture of the lifestyle around the building, not in it. Some developers and brokers get so focused on their building they forget to sell the surrounding amenities, and this video flips that paradigm on its head.
I was particularly impressed by the sound effects — such as the birds screeching and oar dipping into the water — that the producers added to make the B-roll come alive. You don’t see that level of detail included in many (or any!) other property videos.
The next thing that is subtle but makes this video stand out is how it uses 3D renderings to show not just one but various executions of test fits. At 1:40 the video shows renderings of one space outfitted in three different ways – open/collaborative space, productive creative space, and finally a more traditional legal services type space. Though this is a subtle piece and only about six seconds of the video, it goes a long way in showing that the building could cater to tenants of all kinds.
And the proof is in the pudding – the building was ultimately fully leased to an interesting combination of technology and traditional tenants, including Facebook, Bank of America and law firm Dickinson Wright.
Type: Converted Office Redevelopment
Created by: Kilograph
Location: Austin, Texas
This video presents a twist by showing off some interesting facts and statistics about the growth of the surrounding neighborhood in addition to lively B-roll of the area. Where the video really gets fun is around the 40-second mark where digital animation is used to reskin the building and then at 50 seconds where it animates the transformation step-by-step. It’s a visually intriguing effect that helps you truly grasp the scope of the planned renovation.
Another thing I love about this video is how the branding of the building – the yellow and grey with the Upcycle arrows, are incorporated into the video and even into the design of the tenant spaces. This strong use of color gives the video a polished and cohesive feel.
And this video did its job. In September of 2018, the owners landed a long-term 81,000-SF lease with Texas-based grocery giant HEB. According to the Austin Business Journal, “the innovation lab will house HEB Grocery Co.’s digital team as well as Favor, the on-demand delivery app company HEB acquired.”
12. Indeed Tower
Can excellent architecture and stunning 3D graphics save a story-less video? I’d normally say no, but this video is the exception. Catchy music and captivating renderings helped catapult this otherwise emotionless video onto my best list.
While this video lacks a strong narrative, the hyper-realistic graphics really do leave you wanting to know more.
13. Four Points
Created by: AQUILA Commercial
Type: Existing Office Development
Location: Austin, Texas
If you are looking to market an existing office building, this video provides excellent inspiration.
Instead of focusing on the property as a whole, this video features a testimonial from a tenant in the building. The tenant tells in his own words what makes the building and location a great fit for his business, and his words are backed up with nice B-roll showing off property features. This sort of social proof feels authentic and brings emotion to the video.
I have not seen many videos done in this style, but would guess we’ll see more like it in the future.
For those looking for more inspiration, here are some videos I liked but that didn’t quite make the cut or simply didn’t fit the criteria.
- Spectrum Way – https://vimeo.com/75250190
- Cumberland Square – https://vimeo.com/286432486
- Innovation Tower – http://www.innovationtowertmc.com/
- 50 Cavill Avenue – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AISlTuZCYMg
- Mueller Business District – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KFd7eJiUpA
- The Campus at Legacy West – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSUv_ePTbzA
- The Independent, Declare Yourself Home – http://youtu.be/u1LgRmpYzsM
- Parcel K Boston Seaport – http://vimeo.com/261844232
- Empire Stores Brooklyn, New York – http://youtu.be/tx2R_kROoq4
- 25 M St – http://www.25mst.com/#project
- Warner View Center – https://vimeo.com/243898410
I will continue to update this list over the years, so please email me directly with any videos you think should be considered for that list.
So there you have it, thirteen excellent property videos and eleven other videos to watch for more commercial real estate inspiration.
For more property marketing inspiration and education, visit the Marketing Your Commercial Property section of the AQUILA Learning Center.
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