This article was originally published on 08/06/2020.

Virtual house tours offer numerous benefits for real estate professionals, enhancing their ability to market properties effectively and provide value to both clients and themselves.  This article outlines seven simple steps for real estate agents who would like to host virtual home tours.

Virtual home tours

Virtual house tours allow prospective buyers to experience properties before visiting in person and explore the architecture and home design in outstanding detail from afar. Virtual tour software can help real estate agents create an immersive property tour in a visually appealing manner to reach a broader and even geographically distant audience.

The trend of searching for potential properties online has increased over the years and continues to be one of the primary methods for people looking to buy, rent or invest in real estate. The global pandemic led to a rise in demand for online visuals of properties and 3D house tours. So, where do estate agents start with virtual display homes? This article outlines seven simple steps to help real estate agents set up and create virtual house tours to attract clients.

What is a virtual house tour?

A virtual house tour is a non-static visual simulation of a property, allowing prospective buyers to experience a 3D walkthrough. Users can virtually "walk through" the house, zoom in on specific areas and get a realistic sense of the property layout and features. The virtual open house enables users to check a listing anytime from anywhere, including their smartphone.

Typically, virtual house tours are created using software or applications that stitch together images or videos taken from different angles within the property. These images are integrated to create an immersive experience for the potential buyer. Users can move the virtual tour in any direction of the home and rotate the view. 

Types of virtual tour homes

Virtual house tours come in various formats, each offering a different level of immersion and interactivity. Choosing the appropriate type of tour depends on the property, the target audience, and the level of engagement and immersion desired for showcasing the property effectively.

The following are types of virtual house tours: 

  • Video walkthroughs
  • Interactive 360-degree tours
  • 3D tours
  • Virtual reality tours (with headsets)
  • Aerial or drone tours

It is important to talk to clients and understand their preferences, expectations and comfort level with technology. Some clients may prefer a guided virtual tour, whilst others may be excited about VR experiences. Some types of virtual tours, like VR or drone tours, may require more investment in terms of equipment and software. Real estate agent decision-makers should consider the budget available for creating the virtual tour and the return on investment (ROI).

Why are 3D house tours in demand?

A video house tour is a powerful tool to promote and sell any kind of property. Video content fosters engagement and delivers results such as shares, click-throughs and increased lead generation. Real estate agencies are using video house tours to increase the exposure of luxury villas, for example, to highlight features and to achieve their bottom line.

The seven steps to hosting a virtual house tour

You can host virtual house tours in two ways: Organise a live open house session or use a recorded video. For best results, use a combination of both methods. A successful virtual house tour requires efficient planning, promotion and top-quality technology. The following are the seven steps recommended for hosting a virtual tour: 

1. Top-quality software and equipment

A top-quality panoramic or 360-degree camera will help you create engaging virtual tours to showcase houses. To ensure that your images and angles align, use a tripod. To deliver efficient virtual tours, choose a high-rated virtual tour software program. Other useful technology may include a smartphone with a good camera and possibly a drone for aerial shots of the property. 

2. Plan your shots

Create a shortlist of the rooms in the house. Place the camera in the centre of each room to highlight the main features. Make sure you can capture each room’s selling points. If the centre of the room doesn’t work for you, find the best spot and mark it.

3. Stage every room

Make sure all rooms are stage-ready. Remove all items which are in the way of the lens. The room must be clean, tidy and attractive. Don’t distract prospects from high-value features with clutter.

4. Prepare the tripod

For uniform images, level the tripod. Search for a levelling tool online if the camera doesn’t include a built-in bubble level level. Adjust the legs of the tripod until the bubble is centred.

5. Test shots and final shots

Go through every room and test each shot. Make lighting adjustments and stage the room’s items to achieve top-quality images. Watch out for mirrors, windows, or glass, which may reflect the camera in the image. After establishing the correct settings for your camera, move through each room on your list. Set up the camera and take your shots.

6. Create your virtual tour

Use a top-quality virtual house tour creator to produce the tour by connecting the images. The virtual tour creator will use static images for 3D virtual tours and panoramic images for 360-degree virtual tours. Create an engaging user experience by adding hotspots, text and audio. Users can zoom, back up, and automatically change directions.

7. Promote your tour

Once you’ve finished editing the tour, use the link to embed it on your agency’s website or social media platforms. Upload the branded version to your website and social media accounts. You can promote the tour by creating a social media event and linking it to your website. Include a tour preview in digital adverts and use strong calls to action to collect buyers’ contact details.

The future of real estate is shaped by increased digitisation and technology integration, including virtual house tours, AI-driven property management and the Internet of Things (IoT) for smart homes and buildings. 

Real estate professionals should stay updated with these trends to remain competitive and provide enhanced services to their clients. Virtual house tours can significantly enhance the efficiency, reach, and effectiveness of real estate marketing efforts, benefiting both agents and their clients.

Looking for virtual tour software? Check out our catalogue!