7 Questions That You Should Ask Every Virtual Tour Company

When searching for a virtual tour solution for your real estate needs, there are many factors to consider. I am a firm believer that real estate agents should not use do-it-yourself solutions for residential listings. There are some exceptions, such as assigning one realtor or assistant per office to take photos and produce virtual tours. Two major reasons for this are the resulting quality and ROI (return on investment). But, that’s the subject of an entirely different blog, so for now here are a few questions that you should ask every virtual tour provider before scheduling that virtual tour

1. What type of virtual tour do they provide?
Some ‘virtual tour’ companies capture only still pictures and then use these pictures to create a motion effect. Make sure you are not paying a virtual tour price for a motion slide show. There are companies that charge as much as $70-$100 for these tours and the final product is nothing more than a $20 photo presentation.

2. Is the final version of the virtual tour interactive?
How do they define ‘interactive’? Make sure that the final product being created looks professional and has in-tour controls. Links to the side and the bottom of the tour are distracting and unprofessional. Interactive tours combine the power of a virtual tour with the ‘point-and-click’ functionality of the internet. They have on tour ‘hot-spots’ that enable viewers to go from room to room without ever leaving the viewing area.

3. What kind of camera lens do they use?
If they use a One Shot Lens or a fish-eye lens will the virtual tour software remove distortions in the tour (i.e. remove the fishbowl effect)? High-quality virtual tours should not distort any feature of your properties. If not corrected, fish eye lenses cause countertops and walls to look rounded and windows will look bowed. When shopping around for virtual tours, be sure to opt for companies that use a wide-angle lens. The wide angle lens captures more of the property without sacrificing quality.

4. Do they have more than one photographer?
Face it, things go wrong and your time is limited. If they only have one photographer and that photographer gets sick or cannot make your appointment, make sure that the company can have an alternate photographer arrive at your scheduled appointment.

5. Do they carry liability insurance with sufficient per occurrence and aggregate coverages?
You do not want to be left paying for damages to a sellers home if a photographer were to cause unintended damage. Virtual tours require that equipment be carried into and out of residential homes. Many homes have very expensive vases, statues and even furniture that can get unintentionally damaged.

6. Are they experienced?
Find out right away if your virtual tour provider has experience. Although inexperienced companies will be very eager to sink their teeth into a job and will probably give you a very good ‘deal’, you do not want them ‘practicing’ on your dime. Make sure to get references or check out testimonials.

7. Can they provide additional services such as videography, video production, professional CD development, or other marketing support?
Some properties warrant additional services to enable you to compete with other real estate agents. If you are looking to list a high-end seller, be sure that you can offer additional high-end services.

As a quick final note to virtual tour companies out there that are squirming to the tune of question number 5. Liability insurance is not expensive at all. For a small monthly investment you are covering yourself and your clients for any possible damage that could possibly occur. As virtual tour providers, we are all professionals and exercise the upmost care when providing our services… but what happens when…? Just call your local insurance agent and get a quick quote. You will be surprised how little it costs.

Cheryl Waller
Treasure Coast Virtual Tours