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My Tech House Hunt

A Buyer’s Perspective on Virtual Tours

By Emily Williams, RET Content Coordinator

5 out of 5 by 3 User(s)

Emily Williams Go to Profile Emily Williams
Published: 09/11/2012
Posted by: RET Staff

There was a new home that met our criteria on the MLS last night. Our agent sent us a link to the property details page on the MLS consumer-facing website. On this property's details page was the URL (not an active link) for a virtual tour, which I checked out. And boy, was I disappointed! I simply sat for two minutes and watched the very same photos that had been in the MLS cycle through. Afterwards, I angrily closed the tab in my browser and said to my husband, "I want my two minutes back."

Benefits of Virtual Tours

When I came into the office this morning, I was complaining about my experience again. "What was the point of the virtual tour at all?" I asked.

Victor Lund, always the voice of reason, played the Devil's advocate for me. He explained that I was taking a very myopic view and that there are some benefits to virtual tours I haven't taken into consideration.

1. They make sellers happy. If you're an agent, your seller clients want to know that you're putting maximum effort into marketing their listing. This means doing more than just adding the property to the MLS and whatever third party property search portals you may syndicate to. A virtual tour will feel special to them. A single property website is another great way to do this.

2. They provide SEO value.

3. They display photos in a better format than the MLS slideshow. As you can see in the screenshot below, the photos in our MLS (even when expanded) are relatively small. They were larger and stood out better in the virtual tour format.



Comments on: A Buyer’s Perspective on Virtual Tours
by Dale Palmer 2012-09-12 05:09:06
I totally AGREE. I'm a Realtor in the Fort Lauderdale area and thats why I do YouTube Videos. Virtual tours of existing pictures in MLS are the same thing over again. Why? I advertise other Realtors listings with YouTube videos for the ones in our MLS that the listing realtor allows me to, so I have no choice but to take the pictures off of MLS to create the video... BUT.. for the listing Realtor or for my Listings I create a real YouTube Video.

YouTube is also owned by Google, so my listing videos come up in Google search pages as well. Great way to Market. I don't understand why a lot of Realtors still you virtual tours.

Dale Palmer

by linda cone 2012-09-12 10:37:59
It is also not just about photos. I use a tour called FloorPlanOnline that showcases photos side by side the photos, so the user can actually see the flow of the home, and how a buyer might be able to live in the home. I have had buyers tell me that the floor plan really got them to look at the house...and buy it, and the photos did not draw them in.

They have some cool tools like a room planner tool, and can automatically create a video out of the photos and push it to YouTube, for free.

I can also embed their tour content on my WordPress website because they have a a plugin to put the content IN my pretty cool.

by J. L. Winn 2012-09-17 11:37:18
The virtual tour industry has evolved tremendously over the past 15 years or so. Unfortunately, the most basic version of a virtual tour is exactly as described in the main story. And that type of content is exactly what is also included in the vast marjority of listing videos found on YouTube.

Why? Because it requires absolutely no effort on the part of the listing agent. The virtual tour vendor automates the creation of the tour and the YouTube posting for the agent from the MLS data and photos. So quality is sacrificed for efficiency and cost effectiveness in most cases.

However there are hundreds of thousands of virtual tours created every year to enhance real estate listings that are more than just a duplication of the collection of still photos accompanying the basic MLS entry.

Full motion video capture and editing is just one way to create a property virtual tour. As you've found though, full motion video is used on a very small percentage of listings compared with photo based virtual tours due to the longer learning curve for DIY video or the higher cost of professionally filmed video based virtual tours.

We always encourage our clients to provide the highest quality marketing enhancements they would like to see reflecting their own professionalism and brand.

J. L. Winn

by Derrick Clark 2013-03-07 08:27:45
I think you've hit the nail on the head Emily. Going the extra mile in anything you do is worth it's weight in gold. It's about showing your seller that you care and by caring, you are the best at what you do.

Another type of tour not mentioned is the 360 based tour. Couple the 360's with audio/video, text and other forms of media to give in my opinion the most complete visual and hard data on a listing.


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