What are the pros of using still photos, videos and virtual tours when marketing real estate?

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multimedia blog

 

My goal is to show you the pros/advantages of each type of format when listing a home.

Here are the pros of all of them

Still photography:  Still photos allow the buyer to quickly run through the highlights, helping them prequalify whether the home has the qualities needed in order to be considered. Still photos can be posted at a very high resolution and can be displayed impressively on a large format monitor. 72 dpi is the standard resolution (no need to upload anything higher because typical monitors can only show so many pixels per inch). Adding more pixels only increases the file size, ultimately slowing down load times.  Professionals will use a wide-angled lens to show as much of the space as possible (similar to what we see with our peripheral vision). The photos can be used on all of the real estate websites, put into brochures (minimum of 300 dpi for clean, crisp printed pictures) and can be inserted into all forms of media (slide shows, virtual tours and videos).

Video:  A terrific way to walk a buyer through a house. Videos can incorporate still photos (can zoom and pan images, simulating motion), motion video, allowing for zooming, panning, rolling, sweeping and forward/backward motion. You can incorporate music to create a specific mood and can also have narration incorporated into the walk-through tour. In real estate, video can be used for client testimonials, agent bios, town and home tours. Video is hands-free, allowing the buyer to sit back and enjoy the experience the videographer and director want to portray.  Some tours we’ve witnessed are extremely simple.  The videographer will use a DSLR camera with a stabilizer and walk through the house simply documenting what they’re seeing through the lens.  It’s recommended that a path be laid out so that walking through the home makes sense.  There are a few cut aways and dissolves, but overall, get’s the point across.

Another video we’ve seen utilizes still photos.  By integrating music, a professional voice overlay, zooms and pans bringing the viewer’s attention to certain features within the photo.  Different than a slide show that transitions between images with fades, etc., the video slide show is closer to looking like a video discussed above.  Also remember that any video created, regardless of format can be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo and a wide host of other video players.

We have seen that most realtors post their videos on YouTube.  The YouTube link can be inserted into most real estate websites and Realtor.com.   Because YouTube is owned by Google and most of the world uses Google as their primary search engine, the real estate videos are ranked fairly high and if programmed correctly, gets found at the top of many search queries.   NOTE:  Most home buyers do not go to YouTube to look for listings.   They either visit a real estate website, go to a realtor’s website or simply go to Google and search on an address or community name to find homes in a particular area.  If the address or community information is embedded correctly in the YouTube video, it will show up with the Google query.

Virtual Tour:  A virtual tour is an interactive tour of a home/facility.  Unlike a video that’s hands free, a virtual tour engages the user and offers them to watch a guided tour hands-free or allows them to interact with the experience.  We’ve seen virtual tours that incorporate stills, panoramas (up to 360 degree sweeps) and video.   Virtual tours are like video games.  They are designed to engage the viewer in the experience.  The viewer can jump randomly from image to image, drag the panorama left or right and with some tours, select floating symbols that take them to other locations in the tour.   Some technologies also incorporate integrated floor plans into their virtual tours.  Select an icon in the kitchen and have the kitchen image show up in the viewer.

Unlike still photography, both video and the panoramas found in virtual tours help the viewer understand adjacencies (relationships between rooms – how the spaces flow together).  As discussed, the video is a hands-free, sit back and relax format while a virtual tour is an Inspection Tool, allowing the viewer to see what they want, when they want it.   Also, similar to video technology, virtual tours can also include music and voice overs to their service.   Because virtual tours are interactive, they cannot be directly uploaded to YouTube.  Most virtual tour companies will offer to convert their tours into a video format and upload the tour to the realtor’s YouTube channel for a nominal fee.

So, when deciding what media platform you want to use, consider all the benefits of each individual format listed above.  They all have strong positive results.  Also remember that a great media presentation makes the world of difference when trying to convey what you’re trying to sell.   Posting a clear and complete visual picture to the buyer will help draw them to your listing(s).

Happy selling!

Michael Basch – President – Virtual Access Tours

BRANDING ONESELF

Today we experienced an interesting occurance. One of my sales associates was showing work we’ve done at a Broker’s Open House.   One of the realtors recognized our work and asked ……  “Don’t you also do work for AGENT X?” (which we do).  They then stated that our work was “too funky.”

Sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face.  With the hundreds of competitors selling in the area, our work was IMMEDIATELY IDENTIFIED and associated with AGENT X.

Is that branding or what????????????????????  Nothing like standing out in a crowd.  And  for the record, AGENT X does over 100 listings a year!

QR Codes in Real Estate – FAD or FICTION

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Are they a fad,  a gimmick ……….   or can QR codes be useful when marketing a property?

Scan code to see sample of QR Code useage

Scan code to see sample of QR Code useage

I believe that if you use it correctly, there is some purpose for a QR code in real estate.   When driving around a while back, I remember seeing literature boxes containing listing fact sheets of the home they so proudly stand in front of.  I stop the car, flip the lid open, pull out the last brochure, only to find a couple of stapled pages that had battled a rain storm a few days prior.  The ink ran across the pages and it wasn’t too easy to make out what I was reading.

Rather than a brochure box, why not put an 8.5×11 image of a QR code on the stand with a small message below stating ……  scan me to receive a complete marketing package and virtual tour of this home?

I emphasize the size because too many times, realtors add the QR code to their sign riders ….  and the code is only 1″ x 1″ large?  Now what is THAT going to do???

Remember to make your QR code LARGE enough so that someone can scan the code right out of their car window.   Make it CONVENIENT for the potential home buyer to scan the code.

“SIZE DOES MATTER!!!!!”

Same thing with using QR Codes in PRINT ADVERTISING.  I’ve tried scanning some of the codes in the paper.   THEY’RE WAY TOO SMALL!!”  My camera scanner isn’t picking it up because it can’t focus on something THAT SMALL.

Bottom line is that QR Codes can be used effectively.  Just remember to place them in a prominent place that can easily be accessible and remember to print them LARGE enough so that it’s easy for a customer to scan them!!!

Build your business through Value Added services

What makes you UNIQUELY different from your competition?  Is it the selling tools your company provides you with?  Is it your personality? Is it your involvement with the community?  Have you branded yourself?

If I plucked you out of one company and randomly placed you into company B, would you still be able to differentiate yourself from the pack of other sales people?

Work on your "Value Add" to increase sales and commissions

Work on your “Value Add” to increase sales and commissions

Unfortunately, there’s a great number of sales people that cannot clearly define their value.

They haven’t prepared themselves and have minimized the importance of their profession.

Note that sales is as important a profession as is being a doctor or an attorney.

You need skills and tools to properly do your job.

Without sales, our economy would collapse.

Setting goals, practice and preparation, developing tools and branding yourself are all necessary if you want to be successful.

Being in sales all my life, I know how important it is to continuously work on improving my skills.  From seminars, sales mentoring, networking events to podcasts and books, there’s never an end.  Sharpening your skills and always looking for better ways to differentiate yourself will keep you on top.

Look how you offer value to your potential clients.  Spend some “alone time” and do a little brainstorming.  Learn how to sell your value.  Hang onto those extra precious commission points.  It’s amazing how good you’ll feel when people come to you because of your unique value and not your low commission rate.

The VAT Marketing Group (VAT = Value Added Technologies) strongly supports Value Added Selling.   We work closely with our clients, working on differentiators that help them stand out from a crowd and yield them the highest commissions possible.

With the wave of foreclosures finally coming to market, the difference in showing a portfolio of photos of empty rooms versus furnished rooms can make a big difference in how many interested buyers you can attract to your listing.

Most of us need good visual cues to better understand what we’re seeing online. Many realtors attest to the fact that putting a “visually appealing” portfolio of images has helped them gain more traffic through the door, shortened sales cycles and an increase in more sales opportunities.

Unfortunately, with the tight economy, it’s not always advantageous to go out and temporarily rent rooms of furniture. Hence the birth of Virtual Staging – a cost effective way of creating a visually appealing home environment without the higher price tags associated with traditional staging.

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Having been doing this for quite a while, the typical questions arise: (a rebuttal has been placed under each concern)

Isn’t it unethical?
No. We’re only adding personal property to the photos (things that are typically taken out of the house when the seller moves).

Aren’t you fooling the viewer?
No. Imagine if you went into a home (while still occupied), and took photos of all the rooms, furnished. The home owner has to move prior to selling the house and takes EVERYTHING with
them. The photos online are still reflecting a furnished environment. Seeing a virtually staged home is no different.

You can get fined for virtually staging a house.
No you can’t. We called the National Association of Realtors and they stated that there’s nothing in their books that state that virtual staging is not allowed.

Won’t the prospective buyers be disappointed once they walk into the house?
Maybe. It depends on how you represent the home. The realtor can put a disclaimer on their photo album, letting the potential buyers know that the home has been virtually staged,
for the purposes of showing them what the home could look like furnished.
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Here’s a sample of a virtually staged room:

Here's an empty room given to us by a builder

Here’s an empty room given to us by a builder

Here's the same room, staged with our LEVEL #3 service

Here’s the same room, staged with our LEVEL #3 service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about our virtual staging services, please visit our or call us at 888.565.1965.

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What is a Virtual Tour

Jan 2013sample

What is a Virtual Tour

 

Virtual Tours Turn Your Clients into Your Best Sales People!

Before we talk about what a virtual tour is, I think it’s important to address why they are so valuable. Top Selling Agents have figured it out… When you provide a virtual tour for your listings, buyers and sellers post it on facebook and twitter, and they share that tour with everyone-they-know; neighbors, friends, and co-workers. That translates into POWERFUL word-of-mouth advertising. But they’re not just promoting your listings, they’re referring YOU, and showing the world what you do to market homes, vs. the competition.

  1. Adding a virtual tour to your listing is like adding a frame to a valuable painting. It makes it stand out from the crowd and says “there’s something special and valuable here”.
  2. Virtual Tours make a home look and feel more attractive, and THAT makes your sellers like you more.
  3. Listings with virtual tours attract more clicks and are more likely to turn viewers into clients.
  4. Buyers love virtual tours because it’s a much nicer way to share their new purchase with friends and family, than sharing the mls page.
  5. Virtual Tours are extremely inexpensive, yet pay higher dividends than any other kind of marketing.

So, what is a Virtual Tour?

Wikipedia has a pretty good definition. A virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of video images. They also may use other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text. The phrase “virtual tour” is often used to describe a variety of video and photographic-based media. Panorama indicates an unbroken view, since a panorama can be either a series of photographs or panning video footage. However, the phrases “panoramic tour” and “virtual tour” have mostly been associated with virtual tours created using still cameras. Such virtual tours are made up of a number of shots taken from a single vantage point. The camera and lens are rotated around what is referred to as a nodal point (the exact point at the back of the lens where the light converges).

 

Now that you know what a virtual tour is and what it can do for your business

What is Virtual Access Tours?

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ImageEstablished in 2004, Virtual Access Tours has matured and developed into a full-service real estate marketing firm. We offer  state-of-the-art photography and virtual tours; automated marketing systems, web site design, computer training, video, printing services, virtual staging, floor plan creation, virtual auctions, virtual assistants … and a myriad of other services.  Virtual Access Tours is constantly assessing the ever-changing real estate market and is continuously evaluating solutions that help realtors market themselves and their listings better.

Our goal is to provide the realtor  with a professional set of tools that bring them more listings and ultimately, more qualified buyers.

Our Philosophy
We understand that our realtors face many challenges and headaches when trying to list and close a home.  Our mission is to provide services that are dependable and  hassle free – treating our realtor’s clients as though they were our own.  Each one of our employees is empowered to make on-the-spot decisions, shortening the turnaround time needed to  turn out a  responsible and professional product. Our realtor’s success is OUR success!
Our Staff

Our staff consists of management, technologists, photographers and graphics designers.  Michael Basch, president of Virtual Access Tours leads the charge. He has taken his prior experiences of owning a number of other businesses – from computer consulting to being a partner in a real estate company and has incorporated many of these skills into VAT’s current service offerings.

Through our valued relationships with our current client base, our organization, even through some trying times,  is continuously growing.

We’d like to thank everyone for helping us get where we are today.