Are Virtual Tours an Effective Tool for Selling Homes in 2015?

Apple iPad and iPhoneAs technology has progressed, the real estate world has had to adapt quickly. New tools, mobile apps, and other technologies have quickly become a prominent part of the real estate process. Virtual tours have emerged as a tool to improve the visual appeal of a listing online. Are they worth the extra effort and expense?

Virtual Tours Do Not Replace Quality Professional Photos

While MLS can feature many details of a listing, it does automatically add virtual tours to all sites using the MLS data feed. Only high quality photos are reliably viewed on all MLS sites including Zillow, Trulia, and RedFin.

Virtual tours simply have not come far enough to replace professional photos. Not all browsers will look at the virtual tour, and depending on the equipment used some virtual tours can skew how the dimensions of the room appear. Photos are clear, universal, and simple.

Virtual Tours Do Not Replace Home Visits and Tours

While a virtual tour can give you a 360-degree view of each room of a home, they have not come far enough to replace a home visit for a prospective buyer.

Home visits are the time when a buyer can see, touch, and ask questions about the home. A virtual tour only allows for the seeing part, and not necessarily from all angles.

Virtual Tours Do Not Replace Great Staging

If you are having trouble moving a home, staging the property can give visitors an idea of what it might really look like to call the property home. Virtual tours can be an add-on above staging, but cannot take the place of a well-staged home.

While you may consider a virtual tour in place of staging, think twice about the benefits of each. If you can get a prospective buyer in the door, staging goes a long way. However, a virtual tour may add little value over quality photos to turn a browser into a visitor.

Virtual Tours Add a Nice Touch to the Online Experience

While all I have done so far is explain what virtual tours are not good for, they should not simply be brushed aside as a wasted effort.

Here are some benefits of virtual tours:

  • Give the visual of being in the room from a remote destination, which is particularly helpful for buyers in other cities, states, or countries.
  • Allow for a better view of the size of a room than with a regular photograph.
  • Show off features like natural light, color schemes, and architectural feature that may not be as clear with a regular photo.

While there are some costs to each tool you use as a real estate agent, your clients trust you to best manage the expenses of selling a property, and they will generally trust your judgment when you suggest potentially expensive projects such as staging or virtual tours.

Look at your own local community and your own experience to see how well virtual tours have helped sell properties. If you find that they have added extra interest or helped drive a higher sale price, by all means use virtual tours in the future. However, if you have used them with little success, you may best help your client by sending their funds elsewhere.

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