As a seller’s agent during the Covid-19 pandemic, you’re probably giving fewer in-person tours and seeing online listings filled with increased visual content. Buyers crave high-quality, interactive listings that are pleasurable to scroll. The right home is out there, and chances are it’s simply a click or a tap away.
What’s one thing you can do to cater to these homebuyers?
Get started with virtual home tours.
Virtual tours are 360° photographs of real properties stitched together to create a digital, immersive experience for a viewer. They’re more flexible than traditional videos because buyers can click or tap their way through a home with the freedom to start and stop the tour at various vantage points as they wish.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits, characteristics, and best practices of virtual tours.
Benefits of Virtual Tours
When looking for homes to buy online, homebuyers ranked virtual tours fourth percentage-wise in a 2019 NAR report for being a “very useful” feature. For homebuyers surveyed ages 39 to 53 and 54 to 63, 48% of both age groups held that opinion.
Source: 2019 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends
Safety During a Global Pandemic
When taking a virtual tour, there is 0% chance the virus can spread to others. Buyers can view homes online from their living rooms without needing to travel and visit homes in person. For private showings or open houses, you can offer to provide face masks and disinfect commonly touched surfaces to put your clients at ease. As an agent using virtual tours, you’ll have more time to spend strategizing transactions for clients and less time driving to their properties.
Virtual tours are convenient. Buyers can view tours from their mobile devices or desktops any time of the day, which saves you and your clients the planning and disturbance of opening up homes for private showings. This is especially true when your clients have limited availability or house pets. While open houses are gradually coming back, and are still an excellent marketing strategy, the convenience of virtual tours means that they’re here to stay.
Opens Up Pool of Buyers
Going beyond the limitations of 2D images or guided video tours (that may only show property highlights), you might see your inquiries increase as you implement virtual tours. Hosting tours on your business website can help your ranking on Google and make it easier for people to seek out your expertise. Posting professional tours on your Facebook or Instagram account with a link to your site can also attract buyer attention and engagement.
Increases Your Qualified Leads
Serious homebuyers who view and like your listings that include virtual tours might increase your lead generation. Offer to set up a live walkthrough if an in-person showing isn’t available for out-of-state buyers via FaceTime, Zoom, or your preferred platform.
Characteristics of Virtual Tours
- Allows viewers to explore at their leisure
- Intuitive for mobile devices and desktops
- Paired with listings online to attract homebuyers, who can then narrow down the choice and decide to make a trip
- Purpose is to generate interest, get eyes on listings, and increase web traffic
- NOT the same as guided videos with agent voiceover, live walkthroughs, 3D models/renderings of the home, and slideshows with still images
Best Practices of Virtual Tours
Before getting started with virtual tours, here are some tips to ensure you’re doing it right.
Ensure You’re Staging the Home to Sell
First, you’ll need to stage the home as you would for in-person showings and guide your seller in the process.
Pro-tip: Add some life and color to a neutral home with some greenery or a vase of fresh flowers.
Seek Professional Help
Hire a professional photographer with real estate photography or virtual tour experience. We suggest hiring a pro because he or she will know the right angles and lighting to use. To get familiar with how a professional will approach the task, watch this YouTube tutorial.
Pro-tip: Asteroom, CloudPano, EyeSpy 360, and Matterport are all legitimate tour software companies that will work with any marketing budget.
Things to Incorporate
When adding virtual tour videos to your listings, remember to provide traditional 2D images, labels for vantage points, and listing videos with your voiceover (if you want to greet buyers and reinforce the home’s best features). Buyers will want to spend more time on your listings that have multimedia to enhance them.
Pro-tip: Familiarize yourself with software applications such as FaceTime, Messenger Rooms, Skype, and Zoom in case you need to conduct a live walkthrough with buyers.
Increase Your Competitive Advantage and DIY
If you want to differentiate yourself as a seller’s agent, you can learn how to shoot virtual tours yourself. While there will be a learning curve, all you need to start is your smartphone or 360° camera, a tripod, and a tour smartphone app.
We recommend taking courses or online tutorials to learn the necessary skills to deliver competitive service to your clients. If the investment pays off, you can save a significant amount of money and time and not have to hire a professional photographer. In addition, being tech-savvy can help you receive more leads and favorable commission splits.
- Some tour companies offer kits that will allow you to practice with a camera, tripod, and/ or extras before you invest in equipment.
- Use a mix of natural and artificial light to highlight rooms (auto mode should be switched off!)
- Use a tripod to prevent camera shake.
- Shoot the home’s exterior to show curb appeal.
- Avoid shooting when animals are on the property to prevent blurry photos.
- Remember to avoid messes and piles, as there is nowhere to hide them in a 360° shot.
- Ask an experienced photographer or agent who has experience creating tours to show you what you’re doing wrong.
Analyze Your Results
Remember to take time to study your results from listings with virtual tours compared to listings without them. What’s working and what should you adjust? If people are watching your videos, lingering on your website, and ultimately calling you, those are all signs that your marketing strategy is effective.
Pro-tip: Use Google Analytics and social media management software to track and optimize your marketing efforts.
The Bottom Line
Virtual tours are likely here to stay, pandemic or not, because they provide benefits to buyers, sellers, and agents. As a seller’s agent, you can understand and implement virtual tour technology to increase your qualified leads and prepare to close new transactions.