Virtual Tours are currently the biggest thing when marketing property.
Whether you work for a new build housing developer, estate agent, or you’re looking for a new home yourself, there’s one thing that you will have talked about over the course of the past few months:
Whether you like them or not, the best way to experience what it’s like being inside a home has been with a Virtual Tour for most of 2020.
I’m a believer that people sell homes – however, with face-to-face meetings being on-hold this year, have our eyes been opened to a new way of buying a property?
Even if you think people still need to see a home before buying it, have Virtual Tours became a greater part of the buying process? And how does this affect buying off-plan?
I investigated to find out…
What are Virtual Tours?
A quick Google search for the definition of a Virtual Tour starts to unravel some of the misconceptions around them.
Here’s the definition of ‘Virtual Tour’ that’s currently live on Wikipedia (when have they ever been wrong?):
A virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images. It may also use other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text. It is distinguished from the use of live television to affect tele-tourism.
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that one of the words has been bolded in the above quote.
Now you’ve cast your eyes back up the page and seen that the word was ‘existing‘, you’re starting to see my problem.
In my opinion, the key is in the name – Virtual Tours.
The realm of Virtual Reality doesn’t tie us down to things that already exist, and that’s why CGI Virtual Tours have entered the picture.
CGI Virtual Tours
What are CGI Virtual Tours?
In essence, a CGI Virtual Tour is a collection of 360° computer-generated images (CGI) combined together with the functionality to navigate between them.
Many of these tours have navigation similar to Google Streetview, meaning there’s a familiarity when operating these platforms and are even easy for technophobes to function.
Why are they used?
Virtual Tours have many uses across many industries, however, I’ve looked into how they can be applied to marketing and selling property.
Here are 3 of the key abilities that CGI Virtual Tours bring to the arsenal of someone trying to sell an off-plan property:
- Tour a new build home, before the home has even been built.
2. See the different choices a new build developer has to offer, and what they look like when put together.
3. Look what an entire completed development will look before it’s finished.
These 3 abilities of CGI Virtual Tours give new build developers a competitive advantage to show their customers what each development and home will look like, even before building starts.
This means new build properties sell off-plan quicker, and upselling premium choices is much easier and more visual.
Why use Photographic Virtual Tours?
Photographic Virtual Tours also have a purpose in the world of marketing property.
If a home already exists – it’s initially more cost-effective to take 360° pictures of it than creating it in CGI.
There are numerous companies out there that offer this ability, with mobile phones now even holding the ability to create tours.
Photographic Virtual Tours are extremely beneficial for estate agents who are selling homes that are already built.
Some new build developers could also see value in them if the housetype has already been built and ready to photograph, but this may not be the best option if they offer custom choices that could be visualised in a CGI Virtual Tour.
It’s also pricey to fully furnish a showhome to be photo-ready, and CGI can be much more cost-effective in the bigger picture.
Are Virtual Tours here to stay?
Whether you think the best option for you is CGI or photography, Virtual Tours are definitely here to stay.
In a post-covid world, gone will be the days of driving miles to see a house or a showhome for the very first time.
I envisage that physically viewing a home with your own eyes will still be a huge part of the buying process, but will come much further down the line in the process than before.
When a potential buyer views a Virtual Tour first, there are positives for both the buyer and seller:
How the buyer benefits
The buyer can decide earlier if they like the home when conducting a Virtual Tour.
This means they can choose to not waste their time viewing the home in person if they’re not a fan, or make a more informed decision on choosing to view it in-person or visit a marketing suite.
How the seller benefits
There are also advantages for estate agents or new build developers selling property.
The customers choosing the visit the marketing suite will have made a decision based on their thoughts of the Virtual Tour.
Therefore the people that decided the home wasn’t for them by viewing the Virtual Tour have exited the sales process earlier, leaving sales advisors with more time to focus on stronger leads.