REALOGY has made a big deal of the new 3-D virtual tours that they believe is the future of property marketing. They may be right. WAV Group took a look look at homes on the internet which offered three distinctive methods of viewing images – Photos, 3D Tours, Video Tours.
When you think of marketing homes for sale, real estate professionals need to think in terms of priority. In consulting parlance – we divide prioritization into three categories – Trauma, Pain Killer, Vitamin. Beyond marketing decisions, it is a healthy idea to use this categorization across many of your technology considerations.
Here is what we opined from looking at listings offering all three media types.
Trauma = Photos
Pain Killer = Video
Vitamin = 3D tours
Trauma – It all starts with great photography. Your marketing will die without it.
The worst-case scenario, agents take a single photo on their flip phone of the front of the house out of the window of their car (rear view mirror included). For the best case, look at photography by Malin Giddings of Coldwell Banker San Francisco. http://www.sfproperties.com/properties/
There are a number of issues related to the trauma of great photography. It starts with the agent. Agents who do not invest in photography are crippling their marketing effort. I have had countless conversations with agents about their photography commitment in property marketing. The answer is usually that they do the level of photography that is commensurate with the property value – Big Mistake! Every buyer is buying his or her dream home. Every seller is selling his or her most valuable asset. Buy a great camera and learn how to use it, or hire a great local real estate photographer EVERY TIME. WAV Group recommends that brokers manage the photography of all of their properties. Charge the agent the photography fee when the property closes.
Pain Killer – Video is the best way to view a home. It is something that you have-to-have to deliver healthy marketing.
As media evolved, consumers moved from print to video. We spend hours watching video on TV or YouTube – far more hours than we spend reading. Video is the most common form of consuming media. Our minds are trained to feel comfortable with video. Moreover, video stirs emotion that photography alone cannot produce as effectively. Photo players with great transition effects, audio overlays of music and text overlays of property facts give the consumer a virtual tour walk through.
The best video tour is to use actual video rather than mash-ups of static photos. All digital cameras are video cameras today. If you are taking a photo, take a series of 3-10 second videos. It’s simple. If you want to appreciate the timing of three seconds, do this exercise. Turn on the TV and watch camera angles switch. For drama, the camera angle may be held for 15-30 seconds. For action films, the camera angle switches every 2 seconds. If you really want to kill it in video, follow Brad Inman’s advise. People, Places, Spaces. Take some stock footage of the neighborhood and include that in the pre-roll or post roll of the property video.
Video loaded to YouTube also has all sorts of sexy implications for search engine optimization – but that is a vitamin.
3-D Tours – vitamins – nice to have, but can live without. They are still clunk and consumers don’t expect or require it from their agent.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of sizzle to the 3-D tours. From a technology perspective, the technology has come a long way from the early days of 360 tours. I am still dizzy from the first ones I ever saw. 3-D tours are adding dimension – literally and figuratively, but they still have a legacy usability issue with the quirkiness of the consumer using arrow controls to “drive” around the house and look around.
Also, not all browsers are supported by some of the 3-D products without installing plugins or modifying browser settings. The other issue is performance. Consumers have access to broadband, but they are also using more and more mobile devices. They do not tolerate the issue of buffering. These 3-D tours are slow to load.