Because of the current Corona situation, virtual house tours become more and more popular.
But this is not just a trend out of necessity because of this situation, there are actually some promising stats that might make you want to consider using more virtual house tours for your real estate business in the future.
According to the National Association of Realtors, more than half of the U.S. adults who use the Internet have taken a virtual tour, and 54% of buyers will not look at a property unless it has virtual images.
Also, a study from realtor.com mentioned on the website of Jasonfox reveals that real estate listings with a virtual house tour get 87% more views.
Additionally, according to panoatics, virtual tours keep visitors looking 5 to 10 times longer, and according to lcp360.com, the return on investment for virtual imaging is estimated at less than four weeks, in contrast to other types of imaging that can take months to prove ROI.
So, besides the above advantages of virtual tours, and doing physical showings being difficult at the moment, there are other disadvantages of physical tours, such as potentially wasting time with no-shows and not a lot of potential to scale them or digitizing your sales process (more about scaling later).
But you can also lose money with virtual tours or not use them at their full potential, and this is where my today’s article comes in.
It will show you how you could make your real estate sales process completely digital, scale your real estate sales, increase your time efficiency with showings, increase conversions with virtual tours and use them at their full potential.
And I am not only talking to real estate agents here. This can be used by nearly all types of real estate businesses.
What Are Virtual House Tours?
A virtual house tour allows buyers to digitally tour a property for sale. This is usually done in 3D and a walkthrough that can be navigated in an interactive way.
So, as a home buyer, you can control which part of the property you want to look at and from which angle.
If you have ever used Google Street View, you may already know what I mean. It’s that, but just inside a home.
A video of a property is similar but not the same, because it’s not interactive and the user can’t control it.
What Are the Use Cases for Different Real Estate Pros
As you might be able to guess already, at first glance, a virtual house tour is more helpful on the side of converting real estate buyers.
So, ideally, it is used in all areas where real estate buyers need to be generated.
The use case is clearest with real estate agents and brokers, where properties need to be sold and thus, buyer leads need to be generated on their websites.
Having a virtual house tour can also indirectly influence finding future property sellers that prefer working with a broker or agent that has virtual house tours.
It’s similar to the situation with drone videos I mentioned in this article.
When it comes to real estate investors, let’s say it can also be beneficial for a wholesaler to have a virtual tour of a property that you have under contract.
Sure, if it’s a bad deal no matter how good your virtual tour is, it will be difficult to find an investor to flip your contract to.
But if your deal is good and you have a virtual tour of the property that you can send to your list of buyers, you might be able to sell it faster than without one.
If you are rather leaning toward passive real estate investments as a buy and hold investor or if you are a property management company, virtual tours might improve your vacancy rate, because you can find new tenants faster.
How to Create Virtual House Tours
It usually starts by taking static photos of the interior or exterior of a property.
Those pictures are then stitched together using special software, converting it into a 3D video walkthrough.
In contrast to a 360-degree tour, the flow is not as fluid and less interactive, but it’s easier to create and less expensive.
For a 360-degree virtual tour, you will need a special camera, which is placed in the center of a room or area.
It will then scan its surroundings and upload the photos to the special software, where interactive elements can be added.
The scanning process can take hours to do, but the results are worth the time.
The steps to create virtual house tours are as follows:
- You find the right equipment and software (see options below)
- Create a list of different spaces and rooms of the property that you want to include in your virtual tour. The spaces and rooms can be identified by walking through each room.
- Now, you need to prepare the rooms by removing obstacles and getting good lighting, and then prepare the camera
- Take test shots to check for the right lightning and if all obstacles have been removed
- Now, take all the photos you planned before
- Create the virtual tour by uploading all the photos to your software, and especially ad extra features (we will come to that point later)
How You Could Bring Your Real Estate Sales Process Completely Online and Scale It
During my preparation for this article, I came across several real estate websites that had some great virtual house tours. I really liked them.
They had great tours, but not necessarily a sales funnel connected to them.
So, in terms of conversion optimization, almost all of them had two important things missing.
The first thing was the extra features that can be added to the virtual tour.
I almost never saw any benefits being displayed in text or audio as extra features during the tour.
In this article, I already mentioned how describing benefits in the picture can increase the conversion rates of real estate listings.
The same is true for virtual house tours. You probably leave money on the table by not taking advantage of adding extra features in your virtual tour.
The second thing I found is a great call to action on the page of the virtual tour.
As you probably know, the traditional (partially online and offline) retail buyer journey goes like that:
- A buyer wants to find a (new) home
- She/he looks for properties online
- She/he finds your website with different property listings
- She/he contacts you on a certain property or several ones
She/he makes a showing appointment
- She/he makes the showing with you
- She/he makes an offer, or several offers (offer, counter offers, etc.), or discards the property/all properties and looks somewhere else
- She/he gets the paperwork ready for escrow and closing
- She/he finally buys the property (closing)
So, traditionally, the 6th step, the showing, is the part that used to be done physically (offline) and is now done more and more online and may even replace completely the traditional showing at some point in the future.
All the other points can already be done remotely or digitally (e.g. remote escrow service companies, etc.).
What do you think the logical next step after a virtual house tour in terms of conversion optimization to get more sales or make the whole sales process online should be?
Exactly, a call to action motivating the potential buyer to make an offer, such as “Liked the property tour? Click here to make an offer.”
Do you think I found one real estate website which offered property tours (even from larger real estate brokers) and had a call to action like that?
No, I didn’t, and I think that many leave quite some money on the table by not doing that.
By calling to action, you could bring your sales process of properties online and have a better base to scale it, because you cut out the organizational part of managing showings (e.g. making appointments, driving, no-shows, etc.).
Sure, there will still be buyers who want to see the property in person on-site because they think they need to see it to find potential damages.
But they could also send an appraiser who may find even more than themselves, something that they would probably do during the due diligence process anyways.
Moreover, for those buyers, you could even reduce their worries and doubts to make an offer online from your website after a virtual tour waiving a physical showing on-site by offering to cover the costs for the appraiser of their choice.
Top 2 Software Options Out There to Create Virtual House Tours
It’s important to pick the right software for your virtual house tours. One of the important features they need is good usability and the ability to add music, links and text.
1) Eyespy360: This software offers a virtual staging service and 360-degree virtual tours. Their free plan includes one tour. Depending on the number of virtual tours you need, the price increases to $69.00 per month. One particular feature is customizable hotspots that visitors can click on to get further information.
2) Matterport: This one is the most expensive 3D tour company, offering many different features. Depending on the type of camera you select, prices range from $2495 to $3395. They also offer cloud hosting services for virtual tour videos, which costs between $49 and $149 per month.
Do You Have to Do Your Virtual House Tours Yourself?
By now, you might have realized that creating virtual house tours can mean significant work and if you want to use a really good camera, a significant money investment as well.
But you don’t have to do it yourself, if you are tight on time.
And, of course, depending on how many you need, it can be worthwhile to buy a camera or not. This depends on your individual business situation.
To give you a short glance, I put together a small list of 360-degree photography service providers that you might use for your virtual house tours.
Most of them are limited to a specific location, so you might need to do additional research to find the right one for your area.
Seven 360 Degree Photography Service Providers:
1) faithclicks360.com: North Carolina and Virginia
3) panoramiceye.com: California
4) potiview360.com: Florida
5) samrohn.com: New York
6) virtualvisitor.com: Texas
7) 360degreeaccess.com: Ohio
When done right and also used as part of a digital sales funnel bringing almost the whole real estate sales process into the digital world, Virtual House Tours can benefit you greatly.
This is also confirmed by the stats from the beginning of this article.
Many still don’t use them to their full potential to increase their sales conversions and depending on your individual real estate business situation, it can be worthwhile to either contract a 36- degree photography service provider to do them for you or you do them for yourself with your own equipment.
And in passing, you also adapt to the current situation, where people more and more try or need to avoid physical property showings.
I hope you found this article helpful, and if you liked it feel free to share it.