September 21st, 2015
I’m new to real estate photography and I’ve been practicing my tail off for about 3 months, 4-6 hours a day. I’m now learning that many realtors want a virtual tour. I think this is a bit antiquated when we now have beautiful video available. Personal feelings aside, what are some of the professionals using, how is it set up and what are the typical costs associated with it? Is this something I really need to offer?
Yes, Realtors in many markets expect tours. It’s a form of media that has been sold to them for many years that does their marketing job because it frequently includes stills, video, 360s, links to google maps/street-view, links to school information sites and typically has agent branding. Frequently what you’ll find is that there are large nationwide tour companies operating in your area that are selling agent tours and photography shoots bundled together. So to compete with the tour companies, you may need to deliver a product that looks as good as the tour companies. Not all real estate photographers choose to do tours but if you are just starting out, you may need to, just to compete.
A very popular tour product designed for independent real estate photographers is tourbuzz.net. There are others, but tourbuzz.net is very popular because for $12 a tour you can bundle a tour with your photo shoot that has all the features (and more) that the big tour companies have. Or you can sell the tour as an add-on product to your shoot. Tourbuzz.net even has a photo delivery feature built into the tour.
If you need to compete with tour companies in your area I recommend that you raise your price $12 a shoot and just bundle a tourbuzz.net tour with your shoot. This immediately makes you look as good as the tour company!
Sure, real video can be far better than a simple tour of stills. However, real video 10x harder to do well than a set of still photos and you must charge more (because of the added time and equipment investment). Tours can be done for all properties but since you need to charge more for video it’s a product for an entirely different set of clients. Most video is shot for upper-end listings where the client is willing to spend much more on marketing the listing.