Virtual Home Tours: Evaluating your Options

Virtual home tours have been rising in popularity, and the recent restrictions placed on home showings have driven that popularity to fever-pitch. It's entered Hyper Mode!

How is everybody holding up through the stay at home orders? While we are instructed to stay at home, us realtors are indeed allowed to perform showings for properties, with several restrictions in place. But now, virtual home tours are all the more important.

Even though we are able to perform showings, we are finding more and more than people are less interested in ATTENDING showings, and more interested in the availability of a virtual tour. In fact, real estate virtual tours rank at the top of home buyers' demands in any home they have an interest in.

Virtual reality has been a reality (ha) for a solid 8 years now. Facebook acquired Oculus way back in the early 2010’s,

Valve has groundbreaking VR hardware on the market, Microsoft has created AR (augmented reality) Hololens, Samsung has their portable Samsung gear VR, and we can all don a ridiculous “Google Cardboard” or and turn our phones into our personal eye-straining VR devices on YouTube.

Needless to say, home shopping and home shoppers, in general, are probably going to become a lot more virtual in these next coming years. And 2020 is kicking off with this in a big way… as the ability to virtual tour real estate properties is now more important than ever.

Er, not quite THAT virtual...

Are virtual tours worth it?

Well, before discussing the changes for home sellers long-term, let's at least discuss the medium-term impact from Covid-19 on home tours.

These are some of the restrictions that Covid-19’s spread has placed had real estate agents' home tour capabilities in Washington State.

Coupling these restrictions with the fact that many people have concerns about heading out in public, you can see why we’ve created quite the climate for having a surge in real estate virtual tour options.

Virtual house tours are indeed worth it because they cut through all of the red tape to get a homebuyer into the very rooms of your home, without you ever having to leave!

A well-executed virtual tour will show off all the finer accouterments that lie beyond your doors. Even those who are simply window shopping can use these tools for an unscheduled showing without a realtor. The home seller never even has to leave, as qualified buyers can be perusing their dining room, bedrooms, living room, laundry room, kitchen and all of the various floor plans in a given space.

This also eliminates a common area of concern that I have held since I have been a realtor, which is the innate risk of an open house to sellers. While most folks browsing your home are likely reputable, there is certainly a risk that comes with the general public having fairly unrestricted access to all of the areas of homes for sale.

As a listing agent, I always have some qualms about the opportunity that guests have to look around unsupervised during an open house. If too many guests arrive, then we start to lose control as to where the guests might wander and what they may do in a seller's home.

Transporting homes to a 3d model available on a mobile device greatly decreases the risk to sellers, listing agents, and gives the buyers a great way to browse all available listings to really get a feel for the floor plan prior to making a proper showing to see it in person with a real estate agent.

In short, I'm pretty pro-virtual tour. Here's just SOME of the summarized benefits of doing 3D tours.

And finally, you don't even need to sacrifice conventional tours to have a virtual one. It's simple enough to just add it on as a PART of your marketing strategy.

Data, virtual staging, more eyes that can focus on homes... what's not to love?

Does Zillow have virtual tours?

Indeed Zillow does have their own virtual tours real estate application. In fact, it just debuted not that long ago!

Going beyond just photos, Zillow’s robust software stitches together high-resolution images of the home’s interior to create a 360-degree experience that folks can enjoy from their smartphone… where all content seems to be enjoyed these days 😐.

The immersive quality of Zillow’s 3D home tours make them a viable substitute for actually attending a home in-person if you are unable to as a buyer. And you don’t even need a VR headset!

This impressive software makes it easy to invite the audience into your living room, capture the email address of interested parties, and reach the right types of buyers who already have a mortgage pre-approval completed.

Also, with nearly 196 million monthly users, model homes in VR from Zillow can be the key difference between success and failure in getting a wider audience into homes.

These are just a few more advantages of leveraging Zillow's service:

As a premier agent of Zillow myself, I'm happy to help you coordinate this type of service.

Matterport Virtual Tours

However, the big Z isn’t exactly the first contender on the market with these services. Rather, they are in their own state of “keeping up with the Jones’.”

And in this case, the “Jones’” is a stand-in for Matterport Virtual Tours. Matterport has been around since 2011 and boasts over 2 MILLION spacial captures.

You could say that Matterport is effectively the old pro of the industry, and their technology has had plenty of time to mature.

While Matterport offers a few differentiated capabilities, Zillow has one key advantage over Matterport, and that is Zillow will only promote your tour if it was shot using their technology.

Meaning, if you don’t use Zillow for your virtual tour, they won’t display it as a virtual tour option in their app. This means that all of the engaged audience in Zillow’s app won’t be able to easily see your virtual tour. You are free to include it as an external hyperlink, but nothing more.

How do I make a virtual tour for free?

If you're feeling ambitious and you possess the correct camera equipment, I suppose there is no reason that you could generate your own tour with all the fancy features.

However, your ability to be successful in your marketing might be limited without the assistance of a realtor, who can assist you with staging, design, value, flow, tips, and a number of other key principles that home shoppers are seeking.

Should you make a virtual tour for your listing?

If you were to list a home right now, I’d all but make it mandatory that we do a virtual tour … depending on the price point.

But given the potential reach that 3d model homes have, it makes tremendous sense from a promotional end.

I don’t like to pull percentages out of thin air, but I’d wager that having a 3D tour probably opens up your prospective buyer audience by at least somewhere from 15-25%... and that’s considerable enough for me to recommend it. And even then, we can see if those buyers have engaged with a mortgage calculator, and get them qualified straightaway.

Even after our Covid-19 restrictions end, it’s likely that we will still be seeing more and more need for 3D home tours. And given my background in technology, SaaS, and internet marketing, I think I can help you put together a winning strategy for your listing.

Or if you just want to play around with virtual tours, now you know a bit more about who the players in the market are! Happy hunting to you. Please let me know if I can help answer any questions at all for you.