Provided the resources are there, both realtors and home hunters love a house tour.
You get to walk around an entirely new place with fully furnished spaces while sipping on a light beverage or fresh coffee. It’s an experience that satisfies our innate human curiosity as well as all five senses.
Unfortunately, though, an actual house tour is not always the most reasonable option.
As a realtor, you may be pressed for time or simply don’t have enough cold hard cash to arrange one. As a homebuyer, after a few visits in different neighborhoods scattered around the city, you’ll have legs too tired to walk around, a mind too numb to understand another enthusiastic realtor, and probably a stomach too full to take in any more spiked cherry juice.
That’s when, in the back of your mind, you’ll start thinking that all this trouble would be washed away if you could just sit at home and tour houses around the country with a few clicks of the mouse… Well, that can be arranged, and all you need are virtual house tours!
In this blog, we’ll discuss what virtual house tours are, how they have become a common reality, and what advantages they can bring to all parties within the real estate industry.
Table of Contents
What Are Virtual House Tours?
Virtual house tours refer to interactive online presentations or simulations that allow individuals to explore and view a property, typically a residential house or apartment, from the comfort of their own devices, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet. These tours use virtual reality (VR) technology or 360-degree panoramic images to provide a simulated walkthrough experience of the property.
Users can navigate through different rooms and areas, zoom in on specific features, and get a sense of the property’s layout and design as if they were physically present at the location. Virtual house tours are commonly used in real estate marketing to showcase properties to potential buyers and renters, offering them a convenient and immersive way to explore a space without having to visit it in person.
Top 10 Benefits of Virtual House Tours
These tours offer numerous benefits for both sellers/landlords and potential buyers/renters. Here are the top 10 benefits of virtual house tours:
Virtual house tours allow potential buyers and renters to explore properties from anywhere at any time, eliminating the need for physical visits. This saves time and effort, especially for long-distance or busy individuals. Just imagine walking through 50 houses a day from the sweet comfort of your favorite armchair.
Virtual tours reduce the need for in-person visits, which can be expensive, especially when traveling long distances to view properties. It also saves time and money for sellers by pre-qualifying serious buyers.
Properties with virtual tours can be easily accessed by a broader audience, including international buyers and those who might otherwise be unable to visit the location physically.
Virtual tours help filter out less interested prospects, as potential buyers/renters get a comprehensive view of the property online. This means that sellers can focus on engaging with more serious prospects.
Virtual tours provide an interactive and engaging experience for viewers. Users can navigate through the property, zoom in on specific features, and spend more time exploring areas of interest. They give viewers a much more realistic experience compared to looking at a handful of bland property photos.
Transparency and trust
By providing a realistic representation of the property, virtual tours build trust between sellers and buyers. Buyers can make informed decisions based on what they see, reducing the chances of misunderstandings or surprises later.
Virtual tours are accessible at any time, day or night.
This ensures that potential buyers/renters can view the property whenever it suits them best, without being constrained by traditional business hours.
Standing out in the industry
Properties with virtual tours tend to stand out in real estate listings, attracting more attention from potential buyers. This can give sellers a competitive advantage in a crowded market.
Virtual tours enable real estate agents and their clients to collaborate effectively, even when they are in different locations. Agents can guide clients through the tour, answering questions in real time.
Safety and health
During times of pandemic or other health concerns, virtual tours offer a safe alternative to physical visits, reducing the risk of exposure to infections. Moreover, it allows sensitive populations like the elderly or people with physical challenges to browse and visit houses with ease.
Overall, virtual house tours provide a modern and efficient way to market and explore properties, benefiting both sellers and potential buyers/renters in various ways.
Where Else Do Virtual Tours Come Handy?
Apart from real estate marketing as the main area of application for virtual house tours, these online tours have a wide range of uses beyond just real estate marketing. Here are some of the key applications of virtual house tours:
Property owners or managers of vacation rentals utilize virtual tours to display their properties to potential vacationers. These tours give travelers a better sense of the rental space and amenities, aiding them in making informed booking decisions.
Interior design and home staging
Interior designers and home stagers use virtual tours to showcase their work and give clients a before-and-after perspective of a space they’ve worked on.
Virtual tours are beneficial for property management companies to document the condition of rental properties before and after tenants’ occupancy. This can help with damage assessments and dispute resolutions.
Construction and architecture
Virtual tours are employed in the construction and architecture industries to showcase proposed designs to clients and stakeholders or for public presentations. They aid in visualizing spaces before they are built.
Virtual tours can be used by contractors and renovation professionals to present design ideas to homeowners and demonstrate the potential outcome of a renovation project.
Tourism and hospitality
Hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions use virtual tours to give potential guests a preview of their facilities and accommodations, encouraging bookings and visits.
Educational facilities, such as universities and schools, may use virtual tours to provide prospective students with an inside look at their campuses and facilities.
Virtual tours can benefit event organizers and venue owners by showcasing their spaces to potential clients and helping them visualize how the venue can be set up for their events.
Historical preservation and museums
Virtual tours are employed in the preservation of historical sites and museums, allowing people to explore these locations remotely and learn about their history and significance.
Retail and commercial spaces
Retailers and businesses can use virtual tours to showcase their stores or commercial spaces to potential customers or tenants.
Virtual tours can assist appraisers in evaluating properties remotely, especially in cases where an in-person visit is not possible or feasible. Just imagine if you could keep the tax evaluators away during the Covid pandemic!
Overall, the applications of virtual house tours extend beyond real estate and are valuable in various industries where showcasing physical spaces and creating immersive experiences are beneficial.
What’s the Magic Behind Virtual House Tours?
To create and deliver virtual house tours, a combination of technologies is used to ensure a smooth and immersive experience for users. Some of the key technologies involved in the process include:
These specialized cameras capture images from all angles, allowing for a complete view of each room and space. They are essential for creating panoramic images that form the basis of virtual tours.
Virtual Reality (VR) technology
VR headsets and applications are utilized to provide an immersive experience. Users can wear VR headsets and feel as if they are physically present within the property, enhancing the sense of realism.
Augmented Reality (AR) technology
In some cases, AR technology is integrated into virtual house tours. This allows users to overlay virtual elements in real-world environments using their smartphones or AR-enabled devices.
3D rendering and modeling
Advanced 3D rendering and modeling software are used to create realistic virtual environments. This technology helps in adding details and textures to the virtual tour, making it more engaging.
Many virtual house tours are accessed through web-based platforms. These platforms host the virtual tour and enable users to interact with the tour using their web browsers, eliminating the need for specific applications or downloads.
Virtual tour software
Specialized virtual tour software packages are used to stitch together 360-degree images, create navigation options, and add interactive elements, such as clickable hotspots and multimedia content.
Mobile app platforms
Some virtual house tours are accessed through mobile applications that can be downloaded from app stores. These apps provide additional features and optimizations for mobile devices.
As virtual tours can be data-intensive, cloud hosting services are used to store and serve the tour content efficiently to users, regardless of their location.
User interaction tools
Various tools and functionalities, such as navigation buttons, floor plans, room descriptions, and multimedia elements (videos, audio), are incorporated into the virtual tour to enhance user engagement.
By combining these technologies, real estate professionals and other businesses can create engaging and immersive virtual house tours that provide prospective buyers and renters with an accurate and realistic representation of the property.
Virtual vs. Open House: Which is Better?
Comparing virtual house tours and traditional open houses reveals distinct advantages and drawbacks for each approach. Here’s a breakdown of their main pros and cons.
After all, neither approach is void of uses, and neither is without flaws.
Pros of Traditional open houses
Open houses allow potential buyers to physically experience the property, getting a genuine feel for the space, layout, and neighborhood.
Buyers can ask questions and receive answers directly from the seller or real estate agent during the open house, fostering real-time communication.
The personal touch of an open house may help buyers connect emotionally to the property, enhancing their interest and commitment.
Cons of Traditional open houses
Organizing and attending open houses can be time-consuming for both sellers and buyers, especially when multiple properties are involved.
Only local or nearby buyers typically attend open houses, limiting exposure to a much, much broader audience.
Open houses may raise privacy concerns for sellers as numerous strangers walk through their homes. Theft is no joke and cannot be disregarded. When more than a handful of people walk around your house, it’s difficult to keep an eye out for trouble.
Pros of Virtual house tours
Convenience and accessibility
Virtual tours offer 24/7 accessibility, enabling potential buyers to explore properties at their convenience from anywhere in the world.
Cost- and time-effective
Virtual tours reduce the need for physical visits, saving time and expenses for both sellers and buyers, particularly for long-distance prospects.
Interactive elements, such as 360° views and clickable hotspots, make virtual tours engaging, encouraging viewers to spend more time exploring the property.
Cons of Virtual house tours
Limited physical experience
Virtual tours lack the physical presence and sensory experience of an in-person visit, which some buyers may prefer.
Poor internet connectivity or device compatibility can hinder the viewing experience for some users. It’s best to go with basic online house tour methods so everyone can view them.
While efforts are made to provide accurate representations, virtual tours may not capture every detail, potentially leading to slight misinterpretations.
Virtual house tours come out on top!
Even though they come with their shortcomings, virtual house tours still feel like the better option, at least as a preliminary stage throughout the entire house hunting/selling journey.
With a much broader reach, more sales, high resource efficiency, dramatically greater convenience for buyers and sellers alike, and various other benefits in terms of safety, health, the environment, and others, virtual house tours rank higher as the more beneficial alternative.
While traditional open houses still hold value in certain scenarios, the numerous benefits of virtual house tours, such as convenience, cost-effectiveness, and broader market reach, make them a compelling and preferred alternative for modern real estate marketing and buying processes.
Let the Virtual Visits Begin!
In conclusion, virtual house tours have revolutionized the way properties are marketed and explored in the real estate industry. Utilizing technologies like 360-degree cameras, VR, and interactive elements, virtual tours offer convenience, cost-effectiveness, and a broader reach compared to traditional open houses.
They provide potential buyers and renters with an immersive experience, allowing them to explore properties at their convenience and make well-informed decisions.
While traditional open houses still have their merits, the numerous benefits of virtual house tours, such as safety, time savings, and enhanced engagement, make them a better alternative for modern real estate marketing.
As technology continues to advance, virtual house tours are poised to play an even more significant role in the real estate industry, providing a seamless and compelling experience for buyers and sellers alike.