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Video tours vs virtual tours

Is a real estate agent better off getting a video tour for their marketing campaign, or a virtual tour?

First of all I think we need to distinguish what we mean by each of these terms so that there is no confusion.

Virtual tours:

A virtual tour is a 360 degree photograph that the user can spin around, and look in every direction. They can be delivered by companies like RTV, Tourbuzz or Matterport, and might include as few as one or two 360 views, through to dozens of 360 spins.

Some people regard still photo galleries as ‘virtual tours’, but for the purposes of this discussion a virtual tour is a 360 degree still photograph and not just a slide presentation.

Video tours:

A video tour is a motion video showing a property, like what you find on YouTube, and will look something like this:

Another example is a walk-through video tour where it feels like you are walking around the property just like you would for an open home:

Or it might be something like this where you are sharing a story within the real estate marketing video:

Ok, now that we’ve sorted out what’s what, here’s real estate agent Peter Lorimer giving us his opinion on …

The video tour vs virtual tour debate:

So here are a few key things that Peter said:

“There are some incredibly complicated virtual tours right now, and I’ve looked at them with the goggles on, and they are frigging mind blowing. And you feel like you’re in the house.”

And look, I think that’s one real advantage with a 360 fully immersive virtual tour. You can look around inside different rooms, and see what’s going on and where things are, as though you are actually standing there yourself. That is pretty cool.

“But … our time is much more compressed than it was ten years ago. Everybody is doing double, triple, quadruple what they were doing ten years ago in a day because of email, text, and all of these other mediums. I feel that virtual tours come second to video tours that come underneath really great photographs.

So it’s almost like there’s a gate that you pass through. If the photographs are amazing they’re going to look at the video. If the video is amazing, they might get to the virtual tour.”

He goes on to talk about how virtual tours are expensive, and I guess they can be if you want every room in the house to be included, but they can be done at quite a low cost if only three or four 360 degree tours are needed. So have a chat with your local real estate photographer about virtual tours, and find out what the fees are to have a virtual tour created for your next real estate listing because it might be lower than you might expect.

“But if you’ve only got the budget for one of them … do a great video of the property.”

I think buyers are very comfortable and familiar with video, and they understand how it works. And of course video can be used everywhere, and can be hosted on YouTube or Facebook where lots, and lots, and lots of people are active, and that’s a huge benefit.

But of course let’s not miss the thing that Peter said must come first:

Really great photographs.

I’ll repeat his statement again:

“If the photographs are amazing they’re going to look at the video. If the video is amazing, they might get to the virtual tour.”

Start with great photos, then if the budget allows it you can include a video tour, and if you can do it then get a virtual tour as well to showcase the property in a manner that appeals to any prospective buyer.

So in summary, here’s how you might like to prioritize your marketing:

  1. Get great photos by a professional. And not just any professional, but a really, really good real estate photographer. They will cost a little more, but your return on investment will be sensational.
  2. Video tours come next, and will work with just about any website or social media channel, and that’s where these really stand out.
  3. Finally there’s the virtual tour, which are very effective, but perhaps only after you have great images and an excellent video.

So with all three of these – photography, video and virtual tour – you have a great marketing campaign. But at the top of that list is the quality of the photography, and without that then anything else is going to have less of an impact on the market than they otherwise would.