As house sales plummet, real estate brands like Zillow are marketing the value of home

The real estate market has not been immune to the coronavirus—a recent report by Fannie Mae predicts home sales will fall by 15 percent this year as the economy contracts. But with millions of consumers on lockdown, homes have rarely played such an important role for work and education. Real estate companies are trying to tap into that role with new marketing.

On Friday, Zillow debuted a 30-second spot called “The Real Value of Home.” The ad, which will air on national TV and across digital channels, features a time-lapse style film capturing 24 hours in the life of a quarantined family—shot from outside of their home—with Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm” playing in the background. At the end of the spot, text reads, “It's times like these that we understand the real value of home.” The push is the first work for Zillow from FIG, which was named the real estate company’s lead creative agency in December. FIG worked with The Mill on production; Joe Victorine, director of photography, shot the film and used his own house and family, which is working and schooling at home.

“It was important that we find a way to create a film that resonated, without violating shelter in place orders,” said Scott Vitrone, FIG’s chief creative officer, in a statement. “That meant writing an idea that could be shot, edited and finished safely, without anyone on the crew ever leaving home.”  

Both brands and agencies are having to get creative, however, to find messages that resonate and cut through the increasingly-dense clutter of emotional ads. Realtor.com recently ran a spot that showcases the changing relationship consumers now have with their homes. The commercial is part of the company’s #StayHome campaign, and was done by Huge.

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Re/MAX worked with Camp + King on ads that highlight community. The company is also running tips designed to help consumers transition their houses into more comfortable work places.

Zillow has also created an online resource center where customers can find out more on how the real estate process has changed amid COVID-19.

While spring is typically a time when home buying ramps up, new data shows a decline in new real estate listings coming on the market. According to Zillow, new listings for the first week of April were down 27.1 percent nationwide compared with the year-earlier period. The biggest slowdowns were in Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York.

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