Virtual tours for real estate are becoming more and more popular.
But this is not just a trend. There are actually some promising stats that might make you want to consider using more virtual tours for your real estate business in the future.
So, do virtual tours for real estate help sell houses?
As a general rule, virtual tours for real estate help sell houses because they increase overall lead conversion rates and the ROI.
According to statistics, real estate listings get 87% more views and keep looking at listings 5 to 10 times longer.
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.
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.
Other disadvantages of physical tours include wasting time with no-shows and not much 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, which is where today’s article comes in.
It will show you what they are, how to make one, how you could make your real estate sales process completely digital, and more.
And I am not only talking to real estate agents here, and they can be used by nearly all types of real estate businesses to their benefit.
What Are Virtual Tours for Real Estate?
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 interactively.
So, as a home buyer, you can control which part of the property you want to look at and from which angle.
You may already know what I mean if you have used Google Street View. It’s that, but just inside a home.
A property video is similar but not the same because it’s not interactive, and the user can’t control it.
Do Virtual Tours for Real Estate Help Sell Houses [A Use Case]?
As you might guess already, at first glance, a virtual house tour is more helpful in converting real estate buyers than real estate sellers to clients.
So, ideally, it is used in all areas where real estate buyers need to be generated.
The use case is most apparent with real estate agents and brokers, where properties must be sold. 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 provides virtual tours.
It’s similar to the situation with drone videos I mentioned in this article.
It can also be beneficial for a wholesaler to have a virtual tour of a property you have under contract when it comes to real estate investors.
Sure, if it’s a bad deal, no matter how good your virtual tour is, it will be challenging 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.
Suppose you lean toward passive real estate investments as a buy-and-hold investor or a property management company. In that case, virtual tours might improve your vacancy rate because you can find new tenants faster.
So, virtual tours for real estate have the most effect on the conversion side of things and long-term ROI. This is also what the statistics from the beginning show.
How to Create Virtual Tours for Real Estate
It usually starts by taking static photos of the interior or exterior of a property.
Then, those pictures are stitched together using special software, converting them 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 placed in the center of a room or area.
It will then scan its surroundings and upload the photos to the particular software, where interactive elements can be added.
The scanning process can take hours, 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 areas and rooms can be identified by walking through each room.
- Now, you need to prepare the rooms by removing obstacles, getting good lighting, and preparing the camera.
- Take test shots to check for the proper lighting and remove all obstacles.
- 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 Virtual Tours Help Real Estate in Terms of Scalability and Website Conversions
During my research for this article, I found several real estate websites with great virtual house tours, and I really liked them.
They had great tours but not necessarily a sales funnel connected to them.
So, almost all of them had two crucial things missing in terms of conversion optimization.
The first thing was the extra features added to the virtual tour.
I rarely saw any benefits 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 tours for real estate. You probably leave money on the table by not taking advantage of adding extra features to your virtual tour.
The second thing I found is a great call to action on the virtual tour page.
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 specific property or several.
- She/he makes a showing appointment.
- She/he makes the showing with you.
- She/he makes an offer, or several offers (offer, counteroffers, etc.), discards the property/all properties, and looks elsewhere.
- She/he gets the paperwork ready for escrow and closing.
- She/he finally buys the property (closing)
So, traditionally, the 5th step, the showing, is the part that used to be done physically (offline). Now it’s done more online and may ultimately replace the traditional showing.
All the other points can already be made 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 many leave quite some money on the table by not doing that.
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 they would probably do during the due diligence process anyways.
For those buyers, you could even reduce their worries and doubts about an offer online from your website after a virtual tour.
Additionally, you could waive a physical showing on-site by offering to cover the costs for the appraiser of their choice.
Nevertheless, this use case would be more relevant for investors than retail buyers.
Because retail buyers often want to see personally first where they might live later.
That’s not the case with investor buyers.
Top 2 Software Options Out There to Create Virtual Tours for Real Estate
It’s crucial to pick the right software for your virtual house tours. One of the critical features they need is good usability and adding 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 feature is customizable hotspots that visitors can click on to get further information.
2) Matterport: This 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 Tours Yourself?
By now, you might have realized that creating virtual tours for real estate can mean significant work.
And if you want to use a good camera, it also means a considerable monetary investment.
But you don’t have to do it yourself if you are tight on time and money.
And, of course, it can be worthwhile to buy a camera or not, depending on how many you need.
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 you might use for your virtual house tours.
Most of them are limited to a specific location, so you might need to do an additional local search 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
Suppose you use virtual tours as part of a digital sales funnel, bringing almost the whole real estate sales process into the digital world.
In that case, it can benefit you greatly regarding conversions, ROI, and business overhead.
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 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 do them for yourself with your own equipment.
And in passing, you also adapt to situations in which 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.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.