A good virtual tour — from a buyer’s perspective — is not merely a slideshow of static photographs played along to music. Website users expect a virtual tour to have a voice talking about specific features, along with true video that spans the interior and exterior of that home. The point of a virtual tour is to let homebuyers get a better sense of the size, flow and features of a home, without actually having to travel to see it in person.
Before you can decide whether or not your website needs virtual tours, you need to find out if it’ll be worth anything to your users and potential clients. According to Realtor.com, 89% of homebuyers find virtual tours to be very or somewhat useful. And we’ve known for a long time that homebuyers go online first to decide whether to keep or eliminate properties from their “list of homes to see.” If a virtual tour has been done well, it’s much more likely that the property will be kept on that list. If a property listing seems to lack enough photos or videos, it may tell buyers that there’s a reason for that (and it’s usually a bad one).
Virtual tours are not hard to create. In fact, any young person today (who has grown up not remembering a time before YouTube) is so familiar with technology, that he or she could easily create a virtual tour in no time with the right tools and content. Really, anyone with a camera that takes video (even an iPhone) can create a simple virtual tour of a home. Nowadays, most computers have movie-making software built in, so you can add music, voice-over and text to your videos.
The problem that some Realtors and builders face is that although there is “virtually” no cost to create a do-it-yourself tour, the time it takes to finish just one video could be an all-day affair. And it may still turn out looking amateurish. They must also consider how much company time it costs.
There are also other methods available, such as online services that allow you to upload your own photos and text, and voila! — you’ve got a virtual tour, complete with a talking robot voice and cheesy elevator music. On the other hand, hiring a professional to create the video from scratch may cost more, but is probably the equivalent of company time if you did it yourself, anyway. In my opinion, a virtual tour is only needed if static photos aren’t enough to do the property justice.