Everything is going online, and so are your potential buyers. Virtual tours are a convenient way for real estate shoppers to see the houses they’re interested in from the comfort of their living room couches, meaning they can spend less time physically going from house to house and can pre-screen any houses that fit their criteria, so they’re only visiting houses they’re truly interested in.

For a real estate agent, this is good news and bad news. The upside of this is that you’ll likely be showing your homes to clients who are seriously considering them, saving everyone valuable time. The downside, however, is that if your listings don’t have a great online presence, you’ll be missing out on a big chunk of potential buyers, as 51% of buyers now find their home online.

This means your success with selling homes will often be tied to how good a home’s online profile is. So, what exactly goes into an effective virtual property tour, and how can you create an online experience that will wow potential buyers and convince them to schedule a viewing?

Do I Really Need a Virtual Tour?

In its 2017 survey, “Real Estate in a Digital Age,” the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that the vast majority of potential home buyers are using the internet to find houses, with 99% of millennials – the largest group of home buyers – using websites to aid their search. NAR also found that of respondents who used the internet in their search, 89% found photos to be very useful and 50% found virtual tours to be very useful.

“Of course, you can still sell your home without a virtual tour, but more and more consumers are not even visiting listings that do not have a virtual tour available,” Brenda Di Bari, a Manhattan-based real estate broker at Halstead Realty, says.

The necessity of good online visual tools isn’t something that should be overlooked if you want to keep up with constantly-evolving technology, something cited by NAR as one of the biggest challenges facing real estate firms. With more and more buyers starting their searches on laptops, tablets and cell phones, sellers who want their listings to stand out need to provide a complete online experience of their homes for a potential buyer to even consider them.

Virtual tours can be even more vital in areas with a lot of out-of-state buyers, like popular vacation spots. Travel is expensive, and people want to have a good idea of what they’re going to be looking at before they purchase a plane ticket.

Roman Debotch, owner of Finally Real Estate, a real estate photography and videography company in Los Angeles, advises that more immersive video tours should be done in areas that are highly competitive, but for some houses, a simpler tour using pictures or video clips will work just fine.

“In my opinion, every house does not need a virtual tour. In some locations, it would be overkill if you already have good photography,” Debotch says.

You Don’t Need to Be Super Tech-Savvy

When you think of a virtual tour, what are you picturing? A couple photos of a house’s interior? A video walkthrough? Or a complete 360-degree experience with interactive floor plans and a 3D walkthrough?

“Virtual tours can be video, photo or an interactive walkthrough that showcases the property and attempts to simulate actually being there. Generally in the industry, though, when people talk about virtual tours they’re talking about the interactive walkthrough,” Ian Dangerfield, a community support admin for Alliance Residential Company, says.

While there are a lot of companies and software out there that can help you create the most technologically-advanced virtual tour on the market, your main objective should be to create an online experience that is easy to navigate and does a good job showing off your home. Whether that means having a full-blown 3D walkthrough or a simple photo tour is up to your discretion (and budget), but there’s no need to employ technology for technology’s sake.

Dangerfield only recommends professional virtual walkthrough tours for luxury properties or if a home’s audience consists of a lot of out-of-state buyers.

(From QuickenLoans)