Brokerage

Use video and virtual tours to win listings

Mobile technology gives agents a leg up on the competition

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You have been doing virtual tours for several years and know that it’s time to shift to mobile. Which mobile virtual tour solution is right for you?

Without question, mobile technology and real estate were made for each other. For fourth-quarter 2012, realtor.com reported a 90 percent growth year over year in properties viewed on mobile devices. Current estimates from the National Association of Realtors and other resources suggest that up to 70 percent of today’s buyers and sellers use a mobile device to view property at some point during their search process.

In three previous columns, we discussed how to make the shift to video. Even though you are doing video, there is still a place in your business for virtual tour technology. In a time where listing competition is stiff, having a robust marketing program using multiple approaches is an excellent way to distinguish yourself from the competition and secure more listings.

Marketing choices

1. For luxury listings, pay for a professional videographer to create a high-quality video for you.

2. Depending on the price point, hire a professional photographer to shoot “architectural photos” of the property, i.e., use a wide-angle lens, appropriate lighting, and the right camera angles to show the property off to its best advantage.

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3. For all listings, include at least 20-25 pictures of the property. If the property doesn’t show well, beef up your photo count by taking photos illustrating the lifestyle in the area.

The shift today is from desktop to mobile and from static pictures to video. If you're not taking full advantage of these new tools, get a jump on the competition and start integrating them into your business now.

4. Shoot one or more fun videos of what it’s like to live in the property or the neighborhood. Some examples may include someone stretched out in a lounge chair next to the pool with a soft drink, book and a floppy hat on a beautiful summer day. If the property has a view, capture it at different times of day, especially if there is a spectacular sunrise or sunset. You can use some of the smartphone time-lapse photography solutions to create a spectacular one- to two-minute video.

5. Create a virtual tour using the Ken Burns technology, i.e., panning the photos. Obviously, the higher the quality of your photos, the better your virtual tour will be.

The effectiveness of virtual tour technology

Of the virtual tour products currently available, VisualTour.com and RealEstateShows.com have been around the longest. They both employ the Ken Burns technology that creates a video effect by panning across the photo. Other providers include ImageMaker360.com, RealTourVision.com and TourFactory.com. Of these providers, only VisualTour.com provides you with the ability to create your virtual tours from your smartphone or iPad and upload them to YouTube.

What’s particularly attractive about the VisualTour platform is the unlimited personal training and tech support, as well as its automated social media and YouTube upload options. It also posts directly to realtor.com.

The other new app in this space is from a company called Tourzilla.com. Tourzilla currently works from your smartphone or tablet. (The Web version is under construction.) To see the steps involved in creating a virtual tour, visit http://pinterest.com/tourzilla/tourzilla-screens/. This illustrates how simple the process is.

What’s great about this app is that Tourzilla will also generate a custom subdomain on its site. In addition to having a single-property website on the Tourzilla site, you can also set up a custom domain for your listings providing exposure on both the Tourzilla site and your own site. The premium versions of the program also allow you to brand yourself and your business, as well as providing reporting and analytics as well.

According to the Tourzilla site, “No manual video editing is required.” Furthermore, “One click creates branded and MLS tours.”

Both VisualTour.com and Tourzilla are “responsive.” This means that they detect the type of device the viewer is using and then automatically adjust the virtual tour to fit the screen size. None of the older technologies seem to have this ability at this time.

To really upgrade your virtual tours, consider using an app such as Photosynth (a Microsoft app made for iPhone) that allows you to seamlessly take photos and stitch them together in a panoramic shot. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, recommends the Cycloramic app that allows you to take panoramas without the vibration.

The shift today is from desktop to mobile and from static pictures to video. If you’re not taking full advantage of these new tools, get a jump on the competition and start integrating them into your business now.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.