These days, sellers and their agents can provide buyers with an interactive online experience that’s more immersive than pictures alone. And creating a virtual tour is now easier and more affordable than ever.
According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 79% of buyers shop for homes online, and about one-third of buyers say virtual tours or videos are extremely or very important to their home shopping. This is usre up now that the “Shelter In Place” orders are keeping open house and home showings down significantly.
In addition to helping buyers get a feel for your home before they visit in person, a virtual tour in your listing can help it stand out. Listings that include a 3D tour receive twice the amount of page views on Zillow.
“Our homes with Zillow 3D Home have more views on Zillow — on average 15% more. Our listing clients love it as well!”
— David Rudd, Real Estate Agent, Kindred Realty Group
Virtual tours, also known as 3D tours or 3D walkthroughs, allow buyers to digitally tour a for-sale home. The online home shopper controls which part of the house they look at and from which angle — think of it like Street View on Google Maps, but for the inside of a home.
Listing videos, on the other hand, are not interactive. They are a straightforward video that usually includes music, zooming, and panning. The shopper can’t control the movement of the video.
Here’s an example of a virtual tour, made with Zillow 3D Home:
Note that virtual tours should never be done in lieu of professional photography — photos are still a crucial part of every online listing. Rather, 3D tours are used to complement your home’s other marketing efforts, driving more interest and helping your home stand out among other listings.
There are many benefits of including a virtual or 3D tour in your listing. Have you ever taken the time to tour a home, only to be disappointed with how different the home is from the pictures? Still, photos can sometimes be misleading, but virtual tours allow shoppers to get a more accurate feel for how your home is laid out before attending a showing. That means that the people who show up to see your home in person are more likely to be high-intent buyers.
A 3D tour can also be a big boost to your digital marketing plan, which is more important than ever. Here are a few marketing benefits:
More exposure in your market: When more people see your listing, you’re more likely to attract multiple offers that could drive the sale price up.
Minimize showings: 3D tours give potential buyers a good feel for the floor plan and flow of the home. If your home’s layout doesn’t appeal to a particular buyer, they’ll know it without having to waste your time (and theirs) with a showing.
Attract out-of-town buyers: A better view of your home can make it appealing to out-of-town and international buyers, who can make faster, more informed purchase decisions without traveling for a house that doesn’t pan out.
Fewer lookie-loos: When nosy neighbors or other nearby sellers can check out your home online, they may be less inclined to schedule a showing or stop by your open house when they’re really not interested in making an offer.
Here’s what a virtual tour needs to include to actually be a virtual tour and not simply a listing video or slideshow:
Now that virtual house tours are becoming more commonplace, there are apps and tools that help sellers make their own virtual tours. It’s also easier to access the same tools and equipment that the pros use.
The Zillow 3D Home app makes it simple for sellers or listing agents to create virtual tours of homes right from their mobile device for free. How long it takes to make your 3D Home tour depends on the size of your home and the number of rooms. Generally, if you’re using an iPhone to create your tour, it should take 30 minutes to an hour. If you’re using a 360-degree camera, it should take 10-20 minutes.
If you use the 3D Home app, your listing on Zillow and Trulia will have a specific virtual tour icon, which helps your listing stand out to online home shoppers. Plus, properties with 3D tours benefit from a week of increased exposure to shoppers. Your virtual tour appears right on your home’s page on Zillow and Trulia, but you can also share it on other sites using a link or an embed code.
Your smartphone is the only equipment you need to use the 3D Home app, but it is recommended to use a tripod with a rotating head and a phone mount to make your video as smooth and professional as possible.
Zillow 3D Home is also compatible with the Ricoh Theta camera. If you have the Ricoh Theta camera, you can expect:
If you’re shooting your virtual tour yourself, have a plan in place for what angles and viewpoints you want to include.
Some professional real estate videographers offer virtual tours in addition to more traditional real estate video production. Many of them use a cloud-based software called Matterport to create these virtual tours, along with Matterport-compatible cameras. Matterport is available to homeowners, but since it’s subscription-based, it can be pretty expensive when you’re just creating one tour.
Although the process of actually capturing the video for the tour is simple, planning for your 3D tour can take some forethought. Complete the following tasks, whether you’re hiring a professional or using an app.
As with other marketing tasks, creating a great virtual tour takes some prep work. Make sure to complete these tasks ahead of the day you plan on recording your tour.
Make necessary updates: Just as you would for professional still photos, make sure you have already completed all necessary pre-listing updates, like cleaning, landscaping and painting. Think of your virtual tour as a showing — your home needs to look its best.
Finish staging: If you’re planning on staging with new decor and furnishings, do so before the virtual tour. At the very least, the home should be decluttered, and overflow items should be moved off-site.
Plan to do your shoot a few days before listing: If you schedule your virtual tour capture around the same time as your professional photos, it will save you prep time. You can clean once and stage once. And it will ensure all your marketing materials have a consistent look and feel.
There’s no point in taking the time to do a virtual tour if it’ll deter buyers with clutter or poor lighting. Your virtual tour should show your home on its best day ever. While most of your prep work will already be done, here is a quick checklist of what you should do the day of your virtual tour shoot: