Close More Deals with Virtual Tour Real Estate Solutions | Program-Ace

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what value would you give to a virtual tour? According to a survey from the National Association of Realtors, over half of prospective property buyers consider virtual tours very useful in making their choice. But the benefits don’t stop there: virtual tours in all their forms make the jobs of real estate agents and agencies easier, as well as improving various business processes in the trade.

Clearly, there is a lot of interest in creating tours through virtual reality development and other popular platforms, including the web. If your business is still using photo listings of properties with no additional immersive features, adding virtual tours might just be the spark that starts a tempest in your earnings and business activities. Hopefully, this article will tell you all you need to know about virtual real estate solutions and how you can get one of your own.

What is a Virtual Tour in Real Estate?

Any virtual tour is an imitation of a real one, and thus, an experience that allows consumers and realtors alike to view a house/property from the outside and inside, with realistic representation of the spatial proportions of the setting. It is a fully remote solution that can be accessed anywhere and aims to give the user all the same impressions as they would get when visiting the place in real life, without the option to physically touch and move the objects.

Some people associate virtual tours with a particular form of media (like an app, video, VR simulation), but the truth is that they are quite diverse in format, while sharing the same goals.

Types of digital real estate tours

  1. Captured footage

This is the easiest kind of tour to produce, made by compositing photos or filming videos. In the former case, a series of photos throughout the house are made and arranged together to cover all sections of the house, so when a user opens this tour, they can alternate between photos taken in different positions. With a filmed video, more natural movement is added to the experience, and the user can pause it at any time. Sometimes, a 360-degree camera is used for photos and video to give the user a full field of view.

2. 3D application

With even a few 3D artists, any home can be turned into a virtual 3D environment. Using real references of the house, artists and developers work together to create a unique experience that is much more engaging and immersive than looking at footage. The software can include various interactive options not available in the captured footage that add substantial value to the experience. Traditionally, these apps are made available through web, mobile, or desktop apps.

3. VR experience

While this is a form of 3D application, it is distinguished by its intense level of immersion. After a user dons a VR headset, they are transported to the home in question and feel like they are really there. Every movement of their head results in a relative change of their view, and they can move through the building in a manner that imitates walking. They can even use the controllers in their hands to interact with and modify their surroundings.

4. Floor plan

Not exactly a tour, but more of an overview for the space-conscious buyer. Floor plans are used by real estate agents and prospective buyers to learn how much space is in the building, how everything is currently arranged, where windows and sources of light are, and many other details that often get overlooked or are hard to gauge with other types of tours. Floor plans are typically presented as static images featuring a room with numerous measurements, no clutter, and sometimes the option to see more details with a click.

What are the benefits of making a virtual tour for real estate?

This type of solution allows you to address both your own business needs and those of your clients. Below are some examples:

Virtual window shopping

Customers can view a property in the comfort of their home, on the road, basically anywhere. There are no time limits or pressure, allowing them to make the most of the experience.

Creating a “Wow” effect

You can make your tour as fancy as you wish, and this functionality can be a great way to impress customers, even if the building itself is nothing special. Presentation matters.

Free customization

With the help of interactive options, you bring your tour even closer to reality and help customers better imagine what it would be like living there and what kind of changes they can make.

Easy porting

Visual content like photos and 3D models can easily be carried over into new mediums, so you can certainly make your tour available across different platforms (e.g. starting with web and expanding to mobile and VR).

How to Create a Virtual Tour for Real Estate

As we have mentioned, you can choose a variety of formats for your tour. In addition to that, there are multiple other considerations to make before you get started.

Typical features you may want include in your digital tour

  1. Free movement

People are curious creatures and they love to explore. Thus, freedom in movement is a feature that will allow customers to satisfy their curiosity and inspect the details that most interest them. For example, our VR Hotel app allows hotel guests, workers, and stakeholders to explore every room and floor of the facility. It feels like a real adventure!

2. Interior customizations

Part of the shopping process for prospective real estate customers is imagining how the place will look when they are living/working there. You can make this aspect of the process even easier by giving users the option to customize interior and exterior elements, such as changing the wall colors, adding accessories, and modifying the levels of light. Similar customization features were implemented in Program-Ace’s Room Configurator application featuring an apartment and multiple menus with modification options.

3. Space measurements

Continuing the theme of customization, users also like to plan how their main furniture, plants, and other accessories will be arranged — will there be enough space. Thankfully, features like those in our immersive FurnitARe app let users upload 3D models of their accessories and simulate how much room they will take up through visualization. This is a lot more convenient than looking at a floor plan and making measurements by hand.

4. Descriptions and characteristics

While visuals have a crucial role in tours, they are not the only thing customers expect to receive — they also need information. Thus, you can incorporate point-and-click mechanics into software that will give users relevant information about the property — things like area, materials in construction, cost, number of bedrooms, utilities, etc. This way, they do not need to wait for a conversation with a realtor to find out something that may be very important to them.

5. Guides

A guided tour usually takes place at a measured pace, with relevant information and top features of the house pointed out during the walkthrough. For example, you may use this walkthrough animation (created by our team) of a home as a reference for a simple guided tour. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even add a virtual assistant that will give information about the property in voiceover.

6. Saves and sharing

Some sales take a while, and users often review many options over time before returning to the one they like most. This is especially common in real estate. Thus, to make your offerings stand out and stay in the minds of customers, you can add save/share functionality to your tour. It may be in the form of an app, a video file, or even just a link to a page where they experienced the walkthrough.

What You Need to Create a Digital Tour

Creating a tour is a demanding process that is usually too much for one person to handle, so you will optimally have multiple specialists and tools involved, all working towards the same outcome.

Which specialists are needed to create a tour?

First and foremost, real estate agents often take active part in the creation of these tours. Sure, they don’t write code or create 3D models, but they do help capture the footage or references for the experience. They understand the best features of a building and things that might be better off hidden. Thus, it is mostly an advisory role.

Next, if your company is going for a simple approach like presentation through video or connected photo, you will probably need a digital artist to prepare the media.Things get more interesting and complicated if you are presenting the tour through an app. In this case, you will need developers, and if the walkthrough will be fully digital (3D), you will also need one or more artists to create the models and any related effects/animation.

Most real estate agencies don’t keep such specialists on the payroll or have any constant need of them, so hiring an outsourcing partner for this project can be the most budget-friendly option.

Which digital tour cost can you expect?

There is no denying that virtual tours are an investment, especially if you are building them for many properties at once. The most affordable option (relying on modified camera footage) will usually set you back by one or several days (and whatever this translates to in the cost of labor), as long as you are working with just a handful of properties. You’ll just need a good camera and effective editing software.

As you might expect, with more properties and more complex solutions, the cost will increase. Developers and 3D artists are some of the highest-paid professions in the world, so the real estate virtual tour pricing for most projects will exceed $10,000. Fortunately, you can mitigate some of these costs by hiring an entire company instead of several specialists.

Outsourcing companies are normally based in countries with low cost of labor and offer flexible business models. If you choose this approach, you will also not need to worry about hardware or software licensing, since capable development partners wield these tools in-house.

What is the best real estate virtual tour software?

On your road towards improving your real estate business, you will need plenty of tools. Some of the applications below you may already know or use, while others may be new. We hope they will be helpful in your project.

Photo/video editing software

3D modeling software

App development software

How to Order Real Estate Virtual Tour Services

Rather than hiring freelancers or the first specialists you can find in your local market, you can consider partnering with an outsourcing provider that will take care of all your development needs. While one or two people might do the trick for small projects, a team from one of the reputable virtual real estate companies is recommended when you are working with large buildings or a sizable collection of homes that should be toured.

Of all the outsourcing companies out there providing virtual real estate services, Program-Ace brings the most to the table. We have a long history of developing digital real estate solutions (including the aforementioned Room Configurator, FurnitARe, VR Hotel, and others), as well as a large team ready to handle ambitious and complex projects. This includes developers, project managers, 2D and 3D artists, QA engineers, and even business development experts that can assist with defining and achieving business goals for the project.

When you are ready to start discussing the virtual tour you want to create, be sure to send us a message. We would love to contribute!

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