|This article was published on: 06/01/2003|
Getting that Virtual Advantage
It doesn’t have to win an Oscar. A simple virtual tour can sell provide a big sale boost.
REPORTED BY MIKE ANTONIAK
Once something of a novelty, the online virtual tour has become one of those rare technological innovations that really pay off. For the seller, it’s an effective promotion; for the buyer, a convenient way to preview properties; for real estate professionals, a tool that makes them stand out from the crowd and helps them weed out the lookers and make more sales.
“Most real estate professionals now use the virtual tour as a part of their marketing strategy,” observes J. L. Winn, vice president of marketing with VisualTour.com. “Today’s sellers want immediacy. Showing them how soon you can have their property showcased on the Web can help capture the listing.”
In some hot markets, where homes sell almost as soon as they’re listed, an online tour of the home may not have much impact. That’s the exception to the rule, however. For most real estate practitioners, the virtual tour has become a core component of how they market and promote their listings.
“Virtual tours are one of the best ways to show eager buyers what you have that’s new today,” says Winn. With more than 15,000 registered users of VisualTour, and more than 100,000 tours built to date, Winn has some insight into what makes a virtual tour effective.
Here are his suggestions.
These days, creating and posting a virtual tour on the Web doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It’s really just a matter of taking the pictures, uploading the files into templates, and adding text. Visual Tour offers its tour solution on both a purchase and subscription basis. (Click for a pricing breakdown.) The company has also announced an agreement with REALTOR.com allowing Visual Tour subscribers to post their tours to REALTOR.com with a few clicks of the mouse for an additional $21.95. The option should be available by the end of June.
Other options for virtual tours include Hometour 360, Picture Path, and Virtual Homes.
As far as capturing those digital images, a mid-range, 2-megapixel camera such as the HP PhotoSMart 620 or Kodak EasyShare CX 4300 could be all you need, unless you frequently use digital images for printing. If you do decide to invest in a higher-end, 5-megapixel camera, use a low resolution setting when taking pictures for the Web. “Anything in an image file over 2 MBs will be lost in the image compression as the file is converted” for display in a tour or on the Web, notes Winn.
With digital cameras so affordable and buyers increasingly reliant on virtual tours to preview property, the virtual tour may be one of the most effective promotional vehicles to come along in years.
For more tips on using virtual tours, click here.
Virtual Tour Buyers Guide, Michael Antoniak, July 2001.
Which Virtual Tour is Right for You, Heather Riley, August 2001.
Previously by Antoniak:
Color Printing on a Budget
Listing Data Entry Goes Wireless
Tech Products for Special Needs
Color Printing Made Easy
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Mike Antoniak is a freelance journalist, who writes frequently on technology.
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