Let me tell you how and what I did to decide which Virtual Tour Company I would sign up with as a professional virtual tour provider. It was easy and you can do it; all it takes is a little time and a computer connected to the internet. When I started this little research project I had one question in mind – what does a person looking for a home on the internet want from a virtual tour?
First I logged on to Realtor.Com, the big Multiple Listing Service (MLS). I selected my state and my local real estate marketing area. I told the search engine to ‘Add Nearby Areas’ to get a rich mix of properties. I then refined my search to include only single family residential properties for sale. At the time (January, 2006) that brought up 986 properties. I then asked Realtor.com to sort the properties and put the properties with a ‘Featured Tour’ on top of the list. This sifted through the listings and found 91 Featured Tours and placed them ahead of the others which made it easy to do the next step. It also showed me that just under 10% of the residential listings in my general area included some kind of featured tour on that day.
(I did the same search today while I was writing this and found 1905 single family residential listings locally and 371 of them had utilized a Featured Tour. That showed me that about a year and a half after I did the first evaluation the percentage of listings that include some kind of virtual home tour doubled to just under 20%.) That’s a good sign for the virtual tour business; Incorporating a virtual home tour into real estate marketing is catching on!
After I found my target listings I went to each one and viewed the tour. Tours can vary a lot for a number of reasons including brand, features, camera and lens, and the skill and experience of the photographer. Even within the same brand you will notice a difference so, to be fair, I took the time to look at each one. I made a list including these variables: Tour type, Number of tours of that type, Pass/ Fail and MLS #. When I saw a new brand of tour I added it to the list. If a tour got a fail I just added it to the “Number of tours’ column. If a tour got a Pass then I also marked down the MLS number so I could go back to it for a final review.
It soon became very clear based on my empirical data and thorough testing that Real Tour Vision had the nicest looking tours and the best virtual tour software! I rejected the tours that were just still photographs or slide shows that were put in motion as nearly every 360 tour offers a slide show but slide shows did not offer 360 tours. I did not like the way the fish eye tours looked either. Any tour that I got frustrated with because it was hard to use or did not load quickly was disqualified too.
In the end, I looked at the 11 tours that were left and evaluated them from the point of view of my initial question – “what does a person looking for a home on the internet want from a virtual tour?” It seemed to me then and it does now that they want a tour that tells the story of the property and gives them a feel for being there. They want to get a good sense that it will be worth the time to see it in person. They want it to function easily and intuitively, and they want to be able to download and store the home tour for easy reference while they are searching for their new home. The Real Tour Vision virtual tours are easy to use, look great, and put the property into context inside and out. They are feature packed without being complicated and they are easy to download, store and email. I was on the phone to RTV to get more information about becoming a tour provider that same day.
Take the time to evaluate the options available in your area! I believe you will see the value in a real virtual tour and that you will select Real Tour Vision as your virtual tour provider. When you do, if you are in the Portland, Maine area give me a call.
Level Best Interactive Virtual Tours
Scarborough, ME 04074