How to Conduct a Virtual Property Tour (For Beginners)
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Virtual tours have always been like dessert — nice to have but never mandatory. Before 2020, they were optional, but now that “social distancing” is part of our everyday vernacular, virtual tours play an essential role in selling a property.
Newly enacted safety guidelines have changed the way that we sell real estate. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s no longer safe to host an open house or even offer in-person tours for random house hunters who probably won’t buy anyway. These days, almost every business is going virtual, including real estate.
Fortunately, you can still sell houses virtually thanks to a technology that’s been around for a while — virtual tours.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to go all-in with virtual tours. Here’s what you need to know:
As its name suggests, a virtual real estate tour is a remote walk-through of a property. The tour is usually done via video or through a special software that stitches together still, panoramic images.
Virtual tours are not the same as slideshows. Instead, virtual tours usually contain interactive components, such as the option to visit rooms by clicking on floor plan hotspots or the ability to pan across an image to see 360 degrees of a room from floor to ceiling.
There are many ways to do virtual tours, but the most common are:
You can do a virtual real estate tour with any budget, even if you can only afford free. However, these days your success in real estate is tied to what you can do virtually, so it’s a good idea to invest your money into producing high quality virtual tours.
Still not convinced? Here are the benefits of going virtual:
Did you know that according to Zillow, homes with virtual tours sell 10% faster? These properties also enjoy 50% more saves, which sweetens the odds of becoming a serious contender. But those aren’t the only reasons you should consider doing virtual tours of your properties. Here are even more benefits you stand to gain:
Virtual tours are a great alternative to in-person showings and allow you to comply with local safety mandates, such as social distancing and limited face-to-face contact. Your virtual tour enables the prospective buyer to “be there” without actually leaving the safety of their computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Many platforms give special attention to listings with 3D virtual tours. In fact, on Zillow, house hunters can search listings based on whether or not they include a virtual tour. Listings that invite the house hunter to virtually tour a property have an advantage on still or even video listings because they’re more immersive.
House hunters actually like taking virtual tours. When the option presents itself, most buyers will click on a virtual tour to see a different perspective that flat, static images can’t provide. Because virtual tours are so popular, you’ll get more eyes on your listing. That’s good news because, real estate, as you know, is a numbers game. The more eyes, the better.
Does your seller currently live in the home you’re showing? That’s even more of a reason to do virtual tours. Who wants to welcome strangers into their home (even if they’re selling it) during a global pandemic? You can put the seller at ease by explaining that you’ll be the only person physically at the home during the tour (or virtual tour photoshoot). Plus, you’ll still be carrying out your fiduciary responsibility of ensuring that you’re doing everything you can to actually sell the property.
Buyers hate to be rushed. Even if you’re not rushing buyers through a property, they still feel self-conscious if they linger too long in one room or double-back to a feature that they want to see again. However, with a virtual tour, especially a video or 360 interactive, your buyer can linger as long as they’d like without feeling pressured to hurry through a property. They have control over what they see and how long they see it.
Virtual tours are always appropriate for buyers who don’t live locally and can’t view the property easily. If you have a lot of out of town buyers, it makes sense to offer virtual walk-throughs as part of your service menu.
Your buyers won’t need fancy equipment to do a virtual tour. They simply need access to the Internet. Buyers can then view your virtual tour right from your website or social media page. The whole process should be easy for your viewer but depending on the technology used, they may need to download a free app (like Zoom).
Now, let’s discuss how to successfully conduct a virtual home showing.
Before setting up your camera, even before staging the space, walk through the property yourself to find its best features and angles. Figure out the ideal way to tour the property.
For a video tour, which door should you walk through first?
For an interactive tour, think about where you should position your 360 degree camera. The middle of the room may be the obvious suggestion most of the time, but not every room looks good from the middle. Some rooms look better from an angle.
Make a list of rooms you want to include in your tour. Don’t shy away from smaller, “less important” rooms like laundry or closets. Serious buyers want to see every inch of a house, including linen closets. The more you add, the more engaging your virtual tour will be.
Now, let’s talk about staging.
Staging is key to selling any space because many buyers can’t see the potential of any empty space. This is even more important in a virtual tour where buyers need furniture to provide scale and context.
Here comes the fun part.
While you could pay someone else to do it, you may want to do your own virtual tour. Fortunately, all you really need is a smartphone to create a simple virtual tour. Additionally, you may wish to use a stabilizer (to avoid shaking the camera), extra batteries, an SD storage card, and a video editing app.
However, if you want to kick up the production quality, you’ll likely want to invest in the following:
If you plan to do a 360 degree tour, you'll also need to pay for a monthly subscription to a service like Asteroom, CloudPano, Cupix, or Matterport.
Do two tours of the property, if you have the opportunity. Use the first tour as your test run.
Did you capture features/ elements that will be important to your buyer, such as fireplaces, views, or even kitchen appliances?
Have you avoided taking a picture of yourself in any of the mirrors?
Should you change the height of your camera? Lower angles often look better (and make the room look larger) than filming at eye level.
Analyze the images that you’ve taken and make notes on how you can improve a future shot.
Make sure that your virtual tour is well-lit. The best light is always natural, but be careful of doing a tour in the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky and at full blast. A noon sun creates a blown out effect which can alter the way your property looks. Instead, do the tour just before sunset to catch the warm glow that a setting sun emits.
Virtual tours have always been a great way to market a property. Now that we must abide by safety restrictions, virtual tours play an even bigger role in selling a home. Use these tips to conduct an immersive and engaging property tour that will excite your buyers.