With the advent and increased use of virtual home tours over the last dozen years, Realtors® have had a new and highly effective tool to reach a wider audience. A virtual tour presents a 360-degree panoramic view of a home, comprised of multiple still shots taken using a fish-eye lens from a single vantage point in each room.
Virtual tours have been the technological alternative to a live walk-through. Simply by clicking a link on an MLS listing, potential buyers are able to take a virtual walk through a property while sitting at their home computer. Now, with faster chips and high-resolution screens, mobile phones and tablets make the virtual tours portable.
But are they the best option available for your real estate marketing needs?
Real Estate Virtual Tour vs. Video Tour
The virtual tour format has become so popular with the real estate and hospitality industries in particular, that more than a dozen providers have emerged to supply cameras, photographers, and specialized software to render and publish these virtual tours. Those who promote this platform often point to the immersive quality of these real estate virtual tours, but how does this experience stack-up against real estate video—which is comparatively cheaper to create and publish?
Here are 9 benefits in favor of real estate video versus the virtual tour:
1. Shifting point of view – Compared to the virtual tour with it’s single vantage point, the video tour allows for greater flexibility. This is particularly true for outside footage that requires a more natural feel and more detailed perspective. A video can also include views of the neighborhood and amenities in the surrounding community—something the virtual tour cannot do.
2. Shorter shooting time – Capturing the many images required to create a virtual tour may take as much as two hours for an average-sized home, versus 30-45 minutes to shoot a rough video tour.
3. Editing – Creating a complete virtual tour requires specialized software to stitch together images, label, and add navigation functionality. Editing software for video has gotten easier to use, has dropped in price—or is even free. You can edit video on the fly using a smartphone or tablet.
4. Ease of Use – Navigating the virtual tour can be frustrating for the user, while a video tour is far easier to navigate; simply press play.
5. Cost to create – Between shooting, editing, and publishing, virtual tours take longer—and in turn, are more costly than a video tour.
6. Link placement – Virtual tours are often harder to find on real estate sites, while Trulia, Zillow, and others simply employ a still thumbnail photo as a link to click and start a video.
7. SEO – It’s no secret that video is the hottest thing going online—almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. Posting video is easier to do than uploading a virtual tour, and you can generally count on the major search engines to index your video within hours. YouTube’s Real Estate channels, which are some of the most visited sites online, can deliver your new listing to millions of viewers almost instantly. Virtual tours are harder to find and take up more bandwidth to view video.
8. Publishing – Social media sites, particularly Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo, are not virtual tour-friendly. Video, on the other hand, is easy to upload and more likely to capture the attention of the viewer because it can be set to start when the user scrolls by. Best of all, social media makes video so easy to share instantly across multiple channels.
9. Evocative – Because of its real time feel and ability to communicate a narrative, real estate video can pack a stronger emotional punch for the viewer as opposed to the surreal fish-eye perspective of the virtual tour.
Virtual tours are likely to become even more life-like and interactive as new technologies are introduced. Soon, prospective buyers wearing a headset may do a virtual tour walking from room to room, opening closets and kitchen cabinets. However, such an immersive experience is bound to be costly—while real estate video is still highly effective and appears to be getting even cheaper and easier to create.