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Virtual tours can range from the simple to the sophisticated. For example, one virtual tour might consist of a series of photographs, stitched together to create a panoramic view of the interior of a building. In contrast, another virtual tour might consist of an actual walk-through of a similar interior, captured on video for the convenience of the viewer. However, regardless of the tools and techniques used to create them, virtual tours are united in the fact that they are meant to simulate the experience of seeing a location up close and in person.
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For real estate agents, this can make the virtual tour one of the most powerful tools in their repertoire.
First and foremost, the virtual tour means that interested individuals can get a look at a building without ever stepping foot onto its premises, thus resulting in a massive expansion to the number of people that the real estate agent can reach with their marketing efforts. While sheer numbers cannot guarantee a successful outcome, each one is nonetheless a small increase in the chances thereof when coupled with capable marketing.
Second, the virtual tour can be put to excellent use as a sales lead generator. Since a virtual tour needs so little investment compared to an actual walk-through of the building, there is a much higher chance that interested individuals will choose to experience them rather than pass them up. Should the virtual tour succeed in catching their interest, it can convince them to move onto the real thing. Better still, they will enter into it predisposed towards a positive impression, which makes them that much more susceptible to the real estate agents’ marketing efforts.
Finally, it is important to mention that real estate consumers tend to be better inclined towards listings that come with virtual tours attached to them. In part, this is because virtual tours are a sign of the effort that has been put into the listing, meaning that there is a better chance that it will be something worth setting. However, it is important to point out that virtual tours are much more informative than the traditional combination of texts and pictures, meaning that they are genuinely useful for real estate consumers looking into the listing in a way that their predecessor cannot match.
Combined, these characteristics make the virtual tour not just something that the real estate agent can use to reach more real estate consumers but also something that can make their marketing efforts that much better. Furthermore, the virtual tour is a relatively new concept, meaning that it is becoming better and better all the time as new tools and techniques are introduced to the market.
How Are Virtual Tours Becoming More and More Useful Over the Years?
For insight into how the virtual tour is becoming more and more useful to real estate agents, there is no better source than some of the trends that have become common over time:
360º Virtual Tour
You should be familiar with the basic concepts behind a 360º virtual tour if you have ever used Google to look at the pictures of a particular location. To sum up the process, a camera is used to take multiple photos of the interior of a building, which are then stitched together for interested individuals. In some cases, this is done using a camera that takes photos as it rotates upon a tripod in a process that produces panoramic views with limited upwards and downwards movement. However, more sophisticated tools and techniques can also be used to create a full 360º x 360º view, which comes closest to actually being in the room.
The simpler the process behind the 360º virtual tour, the easier it is to do it on your own, particularly if you have assistance in the form of the right software such as Panotour and Tourweaver 7. However, if you are interested in making sure that interested individuals have the most complete experience possible, you should consider contacting a local 360º virtual tour specialist. Other than taking the photos and stitching them together, such service providers can also provide hosting and related services, which can prove surprisingly important in ensuring that a 360º virtual tour runs as smoothly as possible.
3D Floor Plans
The inclusion of 3D floor plans can provide interested individuals with an exhaustive understanding of the building’s layout, ranging from the exact locations of the doors and windows to the exact dimensions of each separate room. Better still, since 3D floor plans are interactive, interested individuals should be able to answer most of their concerns by changing the angle from which they are seeing the building’s layout. As a result, they should have no problems satisfying their curiosity to the fullest extent.
There are numerous examples of software that can be used to create 3D floor plans. However, rather than purchasing software, you should consider using one of the many online services such as Floorplanner and Room Styler’s 3D Planner that can be used for the same purpose. Many of these services come with additional features that can be unlocked in exchange for a price, meaning that you should try a number of them to find one that you like before taking that step.
One of the most interesting trends in recent times is cloud computing, which has been put to use with particular fervor by service providers. In short, cloud computing means that the data is stored on remote servers rather than the computer used to access them. Similarly, said data is processed on the remote servers as well, meaning that the computer used to access them serves as nothing but a terminal.
In effect, this means that real estate agents can use their cloud-based services whenever and wherever they want so long as they have a computing device capable of connecting to the Internet. For example, you could take a photo with your tablet and put it to use in your virtual tour right away with that same tablet instead of having to wait until you have returned to your office. Better still, since the cloud computing model cannot be brought down until all of the remote servers have been brought down, you can count on your cloud-based services to keep on running even when other online services stumble.
Obeo is an excellent example of how cloud-based computing can prove useful to real estate agents. It offers a number of services such as floorplans, virtual staging, and full motion video that are as reliable as they are useful for clients interested in creating virtual tours.
In short, drones are desirable because they make the best mobile cameras and mobile video recorders. In part, this is because their controlled movement makes them safe to use under all circumstances, which is particularly useful if you are interested in either hard-to-shoot photos or hard-to-shoot footage for your virtual tour. However, their flight capabilities also mean that drones can be used to capture otherwise impossible photos and footage. For example, imagine an introduction with the drone hovering over the building and its surroundings for a spectacular view before entering a gradual descent for the purpose of entering the premises.
You have two choices if you want to use drones for your virtual tour. First, you could buy a drone so that you can pilot it on your own. This is probably the best option if you believe that you are going to be making regular use of drones for your virtual tours, particularly because even the best drones have prices that top out in the low thousands. Of course, if you are not interested in learning how to pilot a drone, you can hire someone to handle that part of the process for you. However, since the commercial use of drones is still so new, you should put even more time and effort into making sure that your service provider is both skilled and reliable than usual.
Like its name suggests, virtual staging is the practice of making the location presented in the virtual tour seem more appealing to interested individuals. For example, if the contents of a room make it seem cramped and closed-in, you could use software to edit in better-looking furniture and other decor choices. In other words, virtual staging shows interested individuals what the building could look like with some care and attention rather than what it actually looks like at the moment.
In the past, virtual staging saw little use because the edits were too obvious, thus creating a displeasing sense of dissonance between the real and the unreal. However, modern software have long since solved that problem, partially by making use of pictures of real furniture that can be edited in with minimal dissonance. For the most part, virtual staging is popular because of its low cost, which is particularly convenient when it comes to vacant buildings that need to be made presentable for their listings.
You have a lot of options when it comes to virtual staging, which is convenient because you can get exactly what you want. For example, if you are either unable or unwilling to do your own virtual staging, you can contact either Virtually Staging or Virtual Staging Solutions, which will produce useful photos using images of real furniture and other decor choices. Alternatively, if you have time to spare, you might want to consider software such as Live Interior 3D and Home Design Studio, which will let you create your own photos. Finally, if you are already working with a virtual tour specialist, you might want to see if they offer similar services since virtual staging has become so popular.
More Virtual Staging Options
Finally, it is important to remember that the video of a walk through the building can be just as useful as a 360º virtual tour in its own way. For instance, it provides the experience that is closest to actually walking through the building, particularly if it is taken from the perspective of the person doing the walk. Furthermore, when the footage is combined with the right narration, it can be turned into an excellent storytelling method. Although stories are not necessarily as informative as some of the other trends mentioned here, they are great for capturing and then holding onto the viewers’ attention for better absorption of the knowledge passed onto them.
Recording a video is a simple process, whereas recording a video well is something that can take a lifetime and more to master. Fortunately, there are a host of software out there that can help make even the most amateurish efforts seem polished and professional, including some that exist as online services. For example, Animoto is a great choice whether you are interested in turning your footage into a story worth watching or you are interested in putting together a much simpler but no less interesting slideshow.