Why would you want to include a virtual tour in your home marketing efforts? Better asked, why wouldn't you? Nowadays, buyers don't even look at online listings if they don't include a virtual tour. Did you know that?
How Do Virtual Tours Work?
Virtual tours take you inside the home and give you a 360-degree view. Some are interactive, meaning you click the mouse and it takes you to the ceiling, the floor, the walls, leaving no inch of the room unviewed. Others are flat-screen views put together to give you a moving image that you watch but do not control.
You can order virtual tours a number of ways:
•Shoot your own photographs and hire a professional to simply upload and assemble them for you.
•Hire a professional to shoot the photos, upload and assemble them.
•Buy your own software and do it completely yourself.
How Many Spins Should You Order & What Does it Cost?
•Two-Spin Minimum. Every virtual tour should consist of a minimum of two spins. Even a small 800-square-foot condo can be shot on a two-spin tour: the living room and the clubhouse / pool area, for example.
Cost: Less than $100.
•Four- to Eight-Spin Homes. These are suitable for larger homes of approximately 2,000 sq. ft. or more and priced at less than a million. The number of rooms or areas that you select to feature will depend on the layout, number of stories and curb appeal.
Cost: $200 or less for four spins. Interactive virtual tours cost more.
•Eight- to 12-Spin Homes. Larger numbers of spins are generally reserved for the homes valued at more than a million dollars. Buyers want to see the guest houses, the wine cellars, the indoor pool & spa facilities, the libraries, media rooms, gyms, studios, the 18-car garages and helicopter ports.
Cost: Fees vary from $300 on the low-end to $3,500 for professional Web sites dedicated to the property.
Stage the Virtual Tour
•Determine focus and viewpoints. Take your own digital photographs, if possible, and upload them to your computer. This way you can study each room for its appeal and photogenic quality. Print out the photos you like and show the virtual tour photographer the angles that you want.
•Begin the tour focused on the most interesting element in the space and end with that element. Think about what the viewer will see first to determine your starting point for the tour. You don't want to begin filming a doorway, for example, because most doorways are boring.
•Move excess furniture out of the room you are shooting. You want the space clean, open, clutter-free and to appear much larger than it is.
•Consider the level of the camera. If you raised the camera a foot or so, would it eliminate glare from windows or avoid showing the unpainted fence outside?
•Choose the best spot in the room to set up the camera. While you might capture a wider range of view from a location closer to a hall or door, think about the entire circle of view and how interested your viewer will be staring at a close-up of a nearby wall. Remember: one click of the mouse, and your image is lost.
Added Features for Virtual Tours
•The Descriptive Text: Most virtual tours provide ample space for marketing comments. Use adjectives sparingly, concentrate instead on usage of sharp nouns and action verbs.
• Scrolling Text: Every picture tells a story, don't it? Describe that moving video with text that rolls across the screen. Don't rely on the viewer to know enough to scroll down the page to your verbiage. Add a line of verbiage directly to the video.
•Supplying Audio: Some virtual tours give you the option of adding your voice to the tour. Be enthusiastic, speak clearly, and remember to smile, like you were talking to a friend, because a smile resonates in the voice.
Uploading the Virtual Tour Link
•Link the virtual tour to your agent's MLS number.
•Upload the tour to local Web sites and your agent's personal Web site.
•Consider buying a separate Web address to host the virtual tour. Domain names are very cheap, around $8.
•For an additional fee, many tour operators will also upload the link to Realtor.com, the Web site which gives visitors the option of viewing only those listings with virtual tours.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.
Prepare Your Home for a Virtual Tour
With more buyers shopping for homes on the Web, photos and virtual tours are a must. There are many things you can do make your home shine on camera.
1.Understand the camera’s perspective. The camera’s eye is very different from the human eye. It magnifies clutter and poor furniture arrangement. To make a home shine in a virtual tour or video presentation, cater to the lens.
2.Make the home “Q-tip clean.” Because the camera magnifies grime, each room must be spotless. Don’t forget floor coverings and walls; a discolored spot on the rug might be overlooked by prospects during a regular home showing, but that stain becomes a focal point for online viewers.
3.Pack up the clutter. But leave three items of varying heights on each surface. For example, on an end table you can place a lamp (high), a small plant (medium), and a book (low).
4.Snap pictures. This will give you an idea of what the home will look like on camera. Closely examine the photos and list changes that would improve each room’s appearance: opening blinds to let in natural light, removing magnets from the refrigerator, or taking down distracting art.
5.Pare down furniture. Identify one or two pieces of furniture that can be removed from each room to make the space appear larger.
6.Rearrange. Spotlight the flow of a space by creating a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and arranging the other pieces of furniture to make a triangle shape. The focal point may be a bed in a bedroom or a china cabinet in a dining room.
7.Reaccessorize. Include a healthy plant in every room; the camera loves green. Energize bland decor by placing a bright vase on a mantle or draping an afghan over a couch.
8.Keep the home in shape. You want buyers who liked what they saw online to encounter the same home in person.
It is that time of year, gardening and landscaping season is upon us. Here is a great article that shows how landscaping can impact the value of your clients home. Not to mention how fantastic it looks in the virtual tour.