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The Business Case For 360VR for Real Estate is Weak

January 24th, 2008

Scott Pruett’s comments in my last post on 360VR made me realize that I need to be clear about the business case for 360VR in real estate photography.

I did a post last July were I intended to put 360VR in perspective of real estate photography but it fell short of it’s intended goal.

I do a lot of posts on 360VR, probably too many. I love doing 360VR and do it for almost every listing we have. However, it’s a huge amount of work to stitch and correct full screen 360’s. If I do them for anyone else but our listings I charge a minimum of $500 just because of the time involved. As Scott points out real estate agents don’t line up to pay these kind of prices for a technology that has mixed popularity.

I always talk to our sellers about photos, 360s because I’m interested in what they think about them. I don’t have exact numbers but I would say that only 50% of sellers give me positive feedback. A few techie buyers think 360VR is right up there with sliced bread. Many sellers are “hoo-hum” about 360s. I’ve had a long history of problems with the display technology. This is, many people had trouble viewing 360VR back when I used QuickTime and Java. Flash 9 pretty much fixes that problem. But the bottom line is the cost is high in terms of special equipment and time to process 360 views whereas in real estate the demand is not huge. So don’t rush out and get all the specialized equipment this takes and expect 360s to be a high demand product.

I’m not saying there isn’t a market for 360VR. For hotels, B & B’s and other special situations I think people are more likely to be willing to pay the price you need to charge for good 360VR. For real estate I think the business case for 360VR is very weak. So as I told Scott, I think I’d do future 360VR posts over on my fullscreen360.blogspot.com blog instead of here. I don’t want my 360VR enthusiasm to mislead beginning real estate photographers in to thinking they need to add 360VR to their list of products.

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13 Responses to “The Business Case For 360VR for Real Estate is Weak”

  • […] unknown article is brought to you using rss feeds.Here is a great article on the latest real estate buying and selling news.Scott Pruett’s comments in my last post on 360VR made me realize that I need to be cleared about the business case for 360VR in real estate photography. I did a post last July were I intended to put 360VR in perspective of real estate … […]

  • There is a market for 360s, but not by itself and not by the “panographer” pricing. I dont do it VT Only service, just as an add up to an photo or photo/print job… no zenith and nadir shots and $139 for up to 8 shots…

    I have the vt up online after approx 25 minutes i sticked the flashcard in the reader. workflow is a madness, but it’s automatic and all done out of lightroom. don’t ask…

  • […] Business Case For 360VR for Real Estate is Weak unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptScott Pruett’s comments in my last […]

  • The problem I have seen with 360s are that most of them online look awful, but there is a company in my area that offers 6 of these (I think) for $89. If I were to do them, I would want to do them properly (full screen, nice pictures, etc), but there is no way I could do 6 quality 360s for $89. I also think it would be difficult to convince the realtor to purchase mine when they can buy the other $89 package. In my opinion the companies that are flooding the 360 Real Estate market with cheap quick 360s kill the market for people who would like to do quality work.

    Just my .02c

  • […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptScott Pruett’s comments in my last post on 360VR made me realize that I need to be cleared about the business case for 360VR in real estate photography. I did a post last July were I intended to put 360VR in perspective of real estate … […]

  • @ jyearwoo,

    Exactly. We shoot w/ commercial-grade equipment (Nikon Dxx or Dxxx bodies, 10.5mm fish, 360Precision heads) & have been doing sub-$200 360s for real estate (avg. 6-8/property WITH stills) for the past 2yrs. The ONLY reason why is b/c I started w/ the high-end stuff as a hobby, migrated down to a one-shot mirror for real estate, got sick of the lame quality, and then figured out a way to use the higher-end gear with a rather quick workflow. Shooting is quick and I batch process everything using a combination of Mac-based programs. Monetarily we’ve made profit, but not nearly enough to justify this on the long-term. I’ve run the numbers & prices have to go up for this panoramic stuff. RE is a funny market to work with in some regards… and not always easy to please.

    *shrug* I guess it is what it is.

    @ Michael, I gotta ask, sorry.. 😉

    Lightroom supports panoramas?

  • no, it doesn’t by itself… but all starts there. I shoot the 360 precision also… I wrote an export plug for my needs.

  • FWIW, I don’t think 360 VRs are a bad thing to offer, I just don’t think I would base a business around VRs specifically. After all, no matter what you think of OBEO’s photography services (and I’m not crazy about them), it’s one of their big selling points to RE agents.

  • I am new and in no way as professional as any of you…
    But, I do think that the cheap VT’s are killing the quality and reputation of the VT’s of what i see from all of you…

    I shoot maybe 12 stills and 3 panos, give the realtor a website(the home address), a downloadable brochure business card cd’s(5) for $119.00 I brand the website to their companies colors so its an added value.. I ONLY go to the three closest counties for business, thats it..I have a gas guzzler and if i went all over, it would not be worth it.

    I create a TEMPLATE that i can change colors for someone say REMAX/C21 in an instant.

    If they just want me to take stills, thats even easier, 10 stills for $59. i can have the shots up on a website/slideshow (not a personal website) in 20mins.

    Now, if i could use a camera as you people do, i would not leave my house for under $400. but, im still learning but learning with great equipment.

    Realtors will pay for this added service if the price of the home is over $500,000. (well most may) but there is no action on the home that are under $150,000

  • Dave, so you drive around, to 4-5 addreses a day ~ 5-6 hours ideally, then do the computer work, another 2 hours, for about 300 profit?

    Wouldn’t be easier and have a better life to do that in 1h shooting and another hour at the computer? It’s a question of choice…

  • @ Justin, Dave,

    Of course it’s not a bad thing to offer 360-deg VRs to the real estate market. Panoramas are a fantastic way to showcase homes. That being said, the business side of things has to be looked at practically. Consider what Michael says in the post above mine. That’s the point.

  • Michael-Scott;
    As I said, if my skill level was as yours is, i wouldnt leave my home for under $400 per shoot…

    I drive only within 20-25 miles of my home, i would not go any further for this amount of money…Im also a realtor so i am out and about anyway…

    I can shoot a house within 1 hour….i know exactly what your saying and i totally agree.. when i get better i will charge as you, until then, i will pick all of your brains and learn!

    Thank you

  • Hi,

    I really like this site and appreciate everyone’s input. This site has been a great influence in tuning my business.

    I don’t understand the feedback on 360s, though. I can shoot a house in 20 minutes and produce full-screen, flash-based 360s with floor plan mapping for $99. Have a look at my education site at http://www.supervirtualtours.com for a peek at how I do it.

    Aaron L

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