How to Showcase Your Property With a Virtual Open House

By Roy Rasmussen

Effective online marketing has become essential for successful REALTORS®. Eighty-six percent of homebuyers see websites as a useful information source, making this the most popular resource for homebuyers, the latest National Association of REALTORS® data show. Forty-four percent of homebuyers look online before taking any other steps. Fifty-one percent of all buyers ultimately find the home they purchase on the internet. If you don't have an effective online marketing strategy for showcasing your real estate clients' properties, you're potentially passing up at least half of your prospective buyers. 
 
One way to improve your online sales strategy is by using virtual tours to showcase your clients' properties to buyers who are shopping online. Virtual technology can also let you give tours of properties that are not physically accessible to buyers for reasons such as distance or scheduling. Here are some steps you can take to showcase your clients' properties with a virtual open house.
 
Shoot 3D Footage of Your Property
Your virtual tour will create the best impression if you shoot some live footage in ultra-high definition using a smartphone with a 4K camera, such as the iPhone 6s Plus. For an even greater sense of three-dimensional realism, you can attach accessories to your smartphone camera that provide a 360-degree view of your subject by using dual fisheye lenses. 
 
For the most impressive footage, include some aerial shots by using a camera drone. Camera drones can be used to provide a dramatic aerial view of your property, including the garage and backyard, giving a fuller sense of what the property includes. You can also use drone views to provide an aerial view of the neighborhood and local highlights, such as nearby schools or parks.
 
Another way to use drones to heighten the sense of realism is to film a simulation of what it feels like to walk up to the property door. You can continue your drone tour indoors and walk your audience through the house. You can also use drone footage to take bird's-eye view of individual rooms and highlight features that might not be as evident from a ground's-eye view. This can be especially effective for properties that have high ceilings or stairway views overlooking lower floors.
 
Create a Virtual Model
For viewers with access to a virtual reality (VR) headset, you can further enhance the realism of your virtual tour by creating a virtual model of your client’s property. Companies such as Matterport and Floored create 3D models of properties that can be combined with a VR headset to immerse the viewer in the environment of your client's property. The headset allows the viewer to turn their head in sync with their virtual camera view, giving prospective buyers a realistic sense of what it's like to walk through the rooms of a property and view their surroundings. 
 
You can further enhance the impact of your virtual tour with augmented reality (AR), which combines your buyer's view with on-screen overlays that provide information about what they're looking at. For instance, when they look at an AR map of your property, they can see captions summarizing information and highlights of the surrounding neighborhood. When they look at a view of your property's exterior, they can see it alongside a summary of the property's features and price. When they look at interior features, they can see information about rooms or appliances, or about possible ways to take advantage of room features. You can even depict what a room would look like with furniture or family members in it.
 
Promote Your Virtual Tour Through Social Media
To get the most leverage out of your virtual tour, use social media to promote it. One real estate agent, for example, turns his virtual tours into social events by broadcasting them through Facebook Live. During the event, he lets viewers submit questions through Facebook, and he provides answers in real time. This lets him reach a larger number of potential buyers at one time while giving buyers a convenient preview of the property he's showing. It also allows him to promote himself as a real estate agent by demonstrating his ability to present properties.
 
You can also use your blog to help promote your tours. You can create blog posts in advance of your upcoming tours so you can share them with your social media followers and invite them to attend. You can also embed videos of your tours on your blog so viewers can see them at any times. Apps such as Realync make it easier to embed virtual tours on your blog. 
 
By using social media to promote high-quality videos and virtual models of property listings, you can provide prospective buyers with a realistic sense of what it's like to tour a property, even when they're not physically present. This can be used to set the stage for a physical tour, or even to sell the home without an in-person tour. Use virtual tours to improve the effectiveness of your selling technique, increase the number of prospective buyers you're able to reach online and boost the success of your real estate business.
 
Roy Rasmussen, co-author of "Publishing for Publicity," is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.

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