We get it. You’re already shooting professional photos. You might be filming walk-throughs. Perhaps you’re even using drones to get a bird’s eye view of your listings. And it’s working! So why should you do even more?Well, to put it bluntly: it’s what the people want. [Tweet "70% of home buyers and renters expect agents to offer virtual tours."] ... and yet they only appear on 2.4% of listings. Talk about an unmet need! Getting on board now is a surefire way to stand out from the crowd.Before we explain exactly how virtual tours can help you sell (or lease) more real estate, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first: what is a virtual tour, exactly?
You’ve probably heard the words Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 360 degree video thrown around - but what do they actually mean? We’ve covered this is in detail before, but here’s a refresher:
- Virtual Reality is a completely immersive experience - the real world is replaced with an alternate one. It involves the use of goggles, so users feel they’re actually inside the virtual world and they’re free to move around within it. This technology allows you to run open homes from literally anywhere.
- Augmented Reality exists on top of the real world. This technology overlays imagery onto your current reality, usually using a smartphone or headset. You could use it to layer new furniture into an empty home for example, or add a pool in the backyard.
- 360 degree video is exactly what it sounds like: a spherical video allowing the viewer to see in every direction. It’s very similar to Virtual Reality - the main difference being that the viewer isn’t in complete control of the movement. Think of it as a pre-recorded open home - whether the house actually exists or not.
We’re going to collectively refer to the above as ‘virtual tours’.For real estate agents and property managers, there are plenty of benefits of providing virtual tours. The main ones are:
1. Improved selling/leasing efficiency
Is there anything more frustrating than taking time out of your (already hectic) day to run a potential buyer through a home, only for them to declare as soon as they’ve stepped through the front door that they couldn’t possibly see themselves living in a home with a brick feature wall? You know, the one that was strategically kept out of view in the professional photographs?Well, what if you could invite a prospective buyer to your office, whack on a pair of Virtual Reality goggles and show them every one of your listings? Then you could whittle down a short list, and inspect only the properties they’ve shown a real interest in.Property managers can also save significant time and effort leasing properties by using tech to vet candidates before they tee up a time to inspect. Don’t worry - we’re not saying you need to fork out for Virtual Reality across your entire rent roll. (Unless you’re renting out mansions to celebs, that would be absurd!) However, it’s common knowledge that many renters take a scattergun approach to their house-hunting efforts, so 360 degree video could be a great option.You don’t need anything fancy - just an affordable (but quality) camera. Snap a video and add it to your listing. Chances are - you’ll get you more quality applicants. If someone contacts you to organise an inspection, you’ll know they’re already a serious candidate. Perhaps you’ll even get some pre-filled applications at inspections.Of course, you can’t force people to watch a your video - but we bet your potential candidates would be ecstatic if you offered them. No one wants to spend their free time zipping between rental property inspections.It’s not about being lazy. It’s about having more time for finding and meeting other clients to get more business.
2. More persuasive
Here’s a question for you: what’s easier to sell - a home filled to the brim with photographs, hand-me-down furniture and enough magnets to cover every inch of the family-sized fridge door, or a blank slate? Our bet’s on the blank slate.Sometimes, buyers have a hard time picturing themselves in a house that so clearly belongs to someone else. Personalisation is a barrier to a sale, so it’s important to get rid of emotional clutter. However, it can also be difficult for buyers to imagine how they’d fit into a space without any furniture. This is where offering an Augmented Reality tour can really pay off.Using Augmented Reality, potential buyers can swap out Aunt Mildred’s velvet armchair for their own lazyboy, fill empty rooms with bookshelves or even change the colour of the walls. Imagine never having to fork out for staging again!
3. Helps you sell a concept
Selling off the plan is difficult. Sure, you can make the ad text extra descriptive - and yes, there’s always concept drawings. Maybe you even use those delightful cardboard-constructed models with miniature people. Still, it’s difficult to ask someone to visualise themself living in a place when their finger can’t even fit through the front door.As hard as it is to sell a piece of real estate that is yet to be built, it is equally difficult to buy. Customers are happiest when they know what they’re paying for. Concept drawings and models can also give buyers unrealistic expectations, and leave room for miscommunication. This is where Virtual Reality tours are invaluable.Virtual tours let prospect buyers immerse themselves in an unbuilt or unfinished property so they get a better understanding of what they’re buying, and feel more at ease about parting with their hard earned cash. This also means buyers get the opportunity to have a say in the final product - say, by swapping a granite counter out for slate. By offering a virtual tour of a listing before it’s finished being built, you’re offering buyers more peace of mind.The same thing applies to fixer-uppers, although you’ll need Augmented Reality for that.
4. Expands your potential buyer database
Real estate is a pretty locally-oriented industry - we don’t have to tell you that! But there’s every chance that the right buyer (i.e. the one who’s willing to pay the most) isn’t a local, and can’t make it to an inspection.Agents who use virtual tours have the ability to market a property to a much wider audience - such as expats looking to buy an investment property, or migrants looking to move to Australia. After all, who wants to sign a mortgage for a house they haven’t actually seen?If attracting out-of-town buyers is your main priority, you should probably stick with 360 degree video. These are far more accessible than Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality tours, both of which require goggles.With 360 degree video, visitors to your website can ‘interact’ with a listing without having to leave the site. These videos can also be shared on your social channels like Facebook and Instagram, and viewed by potential buyers as they’re scrolling through their feeds.
5. Offer 24/7 virtual property inspections
With so many buyers and renters expecting virtual tours, but hardly any agencies providing them, you’ve got a great opportunity to gain a serious competitive edge when it comes to winning listings. Virtual tours give buyers the freedom to view your listing 24 hours a day, seven days a week - imagine being able to offer your sellers an ‘always open’ house to market their property! The agency that does is an agency looking towards to the future.Plus, less inspections also means less disruption for your sellers, or whoever’s currently living in the property. It’s a win-win.What’re you waiting for? It’s expected that the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality market in real estate will reach at least $80 billion by 2025. If you get started now, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.It’s super easy to push your property tour to the portals using Rex. In the Marketing tab of your listing records, there is a Link field. Click the red + and add a link to your virtual tour.Any troubles, head to our help center or get in contact with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.