There is unlimited potential for listing agents to show their marketing prowess and for homebuyers and their agents to garner information through virtual tours. Here are the right and wrong ways to do virtual tours.

A virtual tour can be a great asset to a home’s online presence. Property photos are important, but the listings with the best virtual tours are the ones that tend to elicit the greatest response from clients and consumers.

A virtual tour is basically a link within a listing that allows the viewer to leave the site and view more content from an alternative source. There is unlimited potential for listing agents to show their marketing skills with this link. It can be a great branding resource for agents and a great informational resource for homebuyers.

As with any digital resource, it’s good to know the right and wrong ways to use this powerful link. These are 10 basic do’s and don’ts for the infamous virtual-tour link.

1. Do use 3D tours

When 3D tours first came out, many agents were reluctant to add them to their listing toolkit. The cameras were expensive, and the 3D tours had limitations on mobile devices. Agents voiced multiple arguments against the technology.

Fast-forward a few years, and 3D tours are now all the rage. A good 3D tour offers buyers a digital walk-through of a home, which was never possible with just photos or standard videos. This resource further became an invaluable asset during the coronavirus outbreak, when stay-at-home orders were issued.

The demand for Zillow 3D tours exploded this year — and many homesellers now demand these tours. If you’re still on the fence about this technology, it’s time to get off the fence and buy in. 3D tours are gaining popularity more every year as consumers demand them.

2. Don’t make a video slideshow of your property photos

When agents take the same photos from their property listing and autogenerate a boring slideshow video, it’s annoying. I know that many agents will yell out “amen!” when they read this section because it comes up often in industry Facebook groups.

Boring virtual tours train consumers to believe that the content behind the link might not be worth pursuing. When a homebuyer clicks on multiple virtual tour buttons and repeatedly finds boring content, at some point, they tend to ignore these links altogether. This works against the entire real estate industry. I wish all MLSs would ban this behavior!

If you’re listing a home and don’t have unique content to add to the virtual tour that’s not already in the MLS listing, don’t bother adding any link. Having no virtual tour is better than having a separate webpage with no additional information.

3. Do create a listing video

Listing videos are the most powerful form of advertisement in real estate. Nothing lets your sphere know how well you can market a home more than a good listing video. Once you post your video to Facebook, the world gets to witness what you’re capable of.

A listing video accessible through a virtual-tour link is wonderful. The sellers are assured that their marketing video is being seen on multiple websites, such as Zillow and Redfin. Meanwhile, consumers learn about the home’s features that could never be identified through text and photos alone. It’s a win-win situation.

The drawback of these videos is that they can be complicated and expensive to produce (but they don’t have to be).

This, however, can also be seen as a positive aspect. With real estate being one of the most competitive industries, nothing can set you apart from your competition like mastering listing videos.

4. Don’t make a long video

Although listing videos can be powerful, they can also be a complete waste of time. You can spend five days working on a video that’s 15-minutes long, but hardly anyone will make it through the whole thing. Most viewers lose interest after the first 60 seconds.

The marketing video for your listing needs to be interesting all the way through. It’s better to have an interesting 60-second video than an average 10-minute video. The moment your video becomes boring, the viewer will bounce. Don’t show toilets and closets — only highlight the most important parts of the home. Edit out every section that’s not interesting.

5. Do narrate your video

Real estate agents spend countless hours networking, trying their hardest to get in front of people. Some agents will literally go around neighborhoods knocking on doors to talk to people. Understanding that face-to-face time is invaluable, why wouldn’t you take a moment to show up in your own listing videos?

Here is an example of a video I created last week for one of my brother’s listings. The green screen and narration only took two hours to implement. Notice how many features in this video could never be conveyed with text and photos.

Casey’s video was viewed over 13,000 times on Facebook — that means Casey was viewed as the listing agent for this home over 13,000 times. That’s the kind of exposure that leads to more business. If this video had no narration and if he were not in it, he could’ve lost out on all that exposure.

6. Don’t make a sloppy phone video

During the COVID pandemic, I have seen multiple agents create “virtual showings” with their cell phones. They load these videos onto YouTube and then post the link in the virtual tour. This has been embarrassing to watch. These videos make our industry look bad.

If you’re new to video creation, don’t try to DIY a listing video. Pay some money to have a professional help you. You’d be better off just sticking to photos of the property than posting a shaky amateur video of your listing.

7. Do create a landing page for your content

If you’re spending the time and money on 3D tours and professional videos, it would be wise to have a landing page where you can display your content. A landing page can showcase your materials and also direct people to contact you with more questions. An example of our landing page from the video mentioned above is here.

Pro tip: You can buy a URL that matches your property address and forward the URL to your landing page, as with the link above. You can then place that URL on your sign rider and direct drive-by traffic to view all your awesome content online. If your content is good, the neighbors will definitely be paying attention to your marketing skills. It’s great branding.

8. Don’t enable autoplay

Have you ever clicked on a virtual-tour link and immediately regretted it because some corny ’80s instrumental music automatically started playing? There was a time when autoplay was acceptable, but those days are long gone.

If you embed a video into your virtual tour, please do not enable autoplay. Nothing will drive consumers away from your listing content faster than being hit with volume overload within seconds of clicking your link.

9. Do add a call to action

If you’re going to go through all the trouble of making a professional virtual tour, it would be wise to include a call to action (CTA) in your content. If someone is interested in your listing, a CTA nudges them to contact you. It’s a great way to meet new clients.

There are multiple ways to add a CTA. You can prompt the user to text or call you by displaying your contact info. You can also add a form on the page for them to fill out that goes directly to your inbox.

No matter how you do it, make sure that viewers have a clear way to contact you. You’d be surprised how many virtual tours have no CTA.

10. Don’t force registration

It’s always annoying when I see an agent list a beautiful new home on Facebook, and when I click the link to get more info, a forced-registration pop-up box appears.

Forced registration will get rid of 95 percent of the viewers who want to see the extra content your seller is paying you for. Please don’t use forced registration for virtual tours — ever.

The rules of virtual tours will change every four or five years as new marketing mediums become the norm. If you are dedicated to becoming the best listing agent you can be, you owe it to your clients to grow your marketing efforts using this valuable link.

If you’re a listing agent who’s constantly trying to push your virtual tours’ boundaries, I would love to hear what’s working for you and what’s not. Please share your experience in the comments section below.

Andrew Fortune is the owner and managing broker of Great Colorado Homes, Inc. Connect with him on Facebook

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