The Basics Of Tours For Beginning Real Estate Photographers

June 3rd, 2012

Just a few days ago a reader asked some basic questions about tours so I thought it would be useful to talk about some basics of real estate tours.

The central question is are tours important? Should real estate photographers provide tours? Here are some basics:

  • What’s a tour? Historically the term virtual tour meant a series of 360 views. Nowadays the term is used to refer to anything from a simple slide show to a video of the property and everything in between.
  • How many agents use tours? In 2007 & 2008 I did a survey of listings on the Seattle NWMLS and found that in 2007 only about 8% of listings over $300,000 had links to tours. In 2008 14% of agents used tours. In both studies upper-end agents used tours significantly more that low end by a factor of two. Tours impress home sellers, so many times promising the home seller a jazzy tour can help the listing agent get the listing contract.
  • Why are tours popular in some places and not others? The big tour companies have spent a lot of time over the last 12 or so years that tours have been available, marketing their tour products to agents. The products that big tour companies sell are as much a marketing system as it is just a tour. Tour companies are at real estate conventions and many come around to offices selling their products. All this marketing to agents has worked so many listing agents are totally convinced they need a tours.
  • Do independent real estate photographers need to provide tours? A tour product is not essential. Many real estate photographers build a fine business just focusing on doing great photography and let the agents supply their own tour. However, some established tour companies sell tours and a photography shoot bundled together so if you are going to compete in the same market as an independent, it can be very useful to be able to supply a high quality tour that has some or all of the features the big guys have.

So how do independent real estate photographers supply tours without having to build them themselves? There are two popular companies that host tours that are designed to be resold by independent real estate photographers. That is, you purchase the tours and either resell them or bundle the tour with your shoot:

I have used both types of tours and recommend both. They have similar but not the same features and both are very reasonably priced (they start at $10 to $12 depending on how many you purchase). Check the websites for details.

I believe it makes great business sense to be able to supply one of these tours with your shoot if your client desires. Tours will likely give you a marketing edge with some clients.

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7 Responses to “The Basics Of Tours For Beginning Real Estate Photographers”

  • Another source for creating tours can be found at, where a website for each property can be created and photos can be automatically uploaded to YouTube.

  • Great article and great options…. As relative newbie to selling my services it’s a great add on for my business. I have been following your articles religiously and have increased my revenue by 25% with your tips over the last 6 months.

    I Plan (goal) to have a successful enough business at this within the next 8-12 months.

    Thanks again

  • These tours must be put together by the photographer I believe. How long does it take to put a tour together? Are they anything more than a fancy slide show?

  • @Eric- Yes, for and the photographer uploads the final photos from the the shoot (takes about 5-10 min) also enters the contact info for the agent, listing address, etc and the tour’s none. Most agents I know are not very technically adept and the more of this stuff you do for them the better they like it. Yea, they are just fancy branded slide shows. tourbuzz has ability to include video clips.

  • Since I started offering virtual tours, I’ve literally doubled my business in just a few months. I use the SavvyTours platform ( which builds virtual tour websites for real estate photographers. I can’t speak highly enough of this company and how helpful they’ve been. Check out the white label option for photographers.

    If you look at their website compared to mine, you’ll see both are very similar, but all my tours are branded with my info.

    The bottom line is this… now that I offer virtual tours with my photography, agents see my tours on the MLS, and they know who took the photos, and they know how to get a hold of me. My photos used to make other virtual tour companies look good and they profited from that. Now I get the credit AND the new business. Highly recommend it.

  • @gregory (Capella-Tours) – Looks like a nice product! Thank for pointing it out… I’d not seen before.

  • I’ve been using for quite a period of time now, and it’s great.

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