Active Rain August 16, 2010

Are Virtual Tours Old Hat?

After reading a remark by John Elwell, I had a thought about virtual tours: in this area, at least, they seem to have run their course. Not long ago, a few years perhaps, many brokers offered virtual tours. I seldom see them anymore. Our MLS now has the capacity for 30 home photos, plenty for even a massive home, and Youtube and other outlets make for easy videos of home tours. So, virtual tours seem to have taken a back seat. But why? 

A few thoughts:

  • The virtual tours I have used are clunky and tend to crash or slow the computer down. A guy eating his lunch at his work computer can easily click through Jpegs to get a feel for a home without having his computer freeze on a shower as his boss walks by. Virtual tours don’t give that immediate feedback, and that is a problem. 
  • For the same money or less, you can even put up a single property website, which gives the listing, among other things, a presence on Google that a virtual tour cannot give. 
  • They are VERY virtual. What I mean is that some sort of do more harm than help. A kitchen, for example, can look too large or small on a VT, and in either case that is a problem. 
Now, before anyone accuses me of stirring the pot or knocking the honest living that my colleagues in the virtual tour industry are making, let me say a few things in their defense, and maybe a suggestion or two:
  • All things being equal, it is better to do more for our clients than less. A virtual tour is more. 
  • They do tell things that cleverly angled photos do not: the location of a kitchen island, the proximity of a fireplace to a window, and so forth. A good pan of a rear yard could save a half hour drive. Or cause one!
  • The current technology may be better than what I recall from the prevalent VTs I saw in years past. 
  • My observations are of the New York suburbs only. VTs may be huge in Manhattan, Nebraska or Oregon. I don’t know. 
I am for what works. If virtual tours could be less clunky, show a more accurate perspective, and easier to load and use I think we’d see more of them. 
I’d welcome any feedback from licensees or consumers. If the technology has evolved and it can help me sell my listings, show me the way. I just wonder about the current absence in an environment where my fellow agents are leaving no stone unturned.