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Another Name For Virtual Tour - Property Website

Published: 08/02/2007
By: larry


Susanne Hayek, a Real Estate Photographer in Arcadia, CA sent me a request to be in the RE Photographer Directory today and I was looking at her website and noticed several interesting ideas I though others could benefit from.

The first is the concept of a property website. For $300 she creates a web site for a property with it's unique registered domain name for 6 months (here is an example). Her property web sites consists of a slide show of photos of the property along with the agents branding. She also supplies a unbranded version for use on the MLS. The interesting aspect of property websites is that they are an "upper-end" name for a virtual tour with a registered domain name. For those RE photographers with a few HTML skills this is a good way to add to your basic services. Susanne says she has competitors charging $600 for property websites.

Another feature of Susanne's business model I like is charging by the hour. When you are charging by the hour if then when additional opportunities come up during the shoot (like consulting on staging) you get paid for your time. Susanne says she started charging by the hour because "...that I was spending a lot of time staging and clearing clutter and cleaning that I wasn't getting paid for". I think this is a great way to provide a higher level of service and make sure you are getting paid for it.

The third thing that caught my eye on Susanne's site is the way that she makes use of PhotoSite.com to provide a large gallery of her work for the site. I'm a big believer in using extensive galleries to promote your work and using an external site like PhotoSite.com or flickr.com or one of the many other gallery sites is an easy way to do this.

Thanks Susanne for all the great ideas!

8 comments on “Another Name For Virtual Tour - Property Website”

  1. Larry,

    Once again, yet another interesting read on your blog! Keep them coming.

    As a RE Photographer servicing the Middle TN marketplace, I've pondered offering similar services like those of Susanne as well.

    I'm curious though - how is she capable of commanding $300 per website creation, when a realtor can utilize a service such as vFlyer ($19.95/month for up to 10 property flyers, more if you pay more) which is in itself a "stand alone website"?

    After a vFlyer has been created, you can
    (1) forward the vFlyer to others as a link OR imbed the vFlyer into the body of an email.
    (2) view reports on the type and # of people who have viewed the property
    (3) upload a very high # of large high-quality JPG photos (which are converted to Flash9 for quick/easy viewing)
    (4) view these pics in either a PhotoGaller or SlideShow format.
    (5) Add property descriptions, asking prices, contact me, etc etc etc links (many of which can be customized).
    (6) Finally, anyone viewing this can choose to print the vFlyer as well (very professional looking). So not only are you getting a unique website for each property, you are also getting an awesome printable flyer.

    I would love to command the rates that Susanne is, and obviously much of that is due to her professionalism and the quality of her photography. Still, I'm confused as to how she can command such a $ amount when there are more viable solutions available at such a dramatically lower cost.

    Cheers,

  2. Jason,
    $300 for a website customized for a particular property is not high priced. The properties she is doing this for are upper-end properties. There are Real Estate Photographers in the Seattle area that charge $250 for just a 15 photo shoot of a multi-million dollar property.

    Also, 99% of Realtors don't have a clue how to use vFlyer.com and don't even the inclination to find out. They want to hire someone else to do all technical work. Actually, when you consider the earning potential of a top Realtor, their time is far too valuable to be doing the technical work associated with real estate. Their time is spent being with and communicating with buyers and sellers.

    Another factor is that different cities have very different real estate markets. I spend time in Seattle, WA and Salem, OR and have found these two citys to be radically different real estate markets as far as what is done to market homes and the number of upper-end properties. Susanne is working in the Southern California market near LA where multi-million dollar homes are the norm.

  3. Larry,

    Obviously the locality of the market comes into play - a Realtor selling $1.5 million dollar homes in San Fransisco will pay more (their commision guarantees they can afford it, and they should expect to pay more since the photographer's cost of living is more expensive there as well) than for a similar situation in Witchita, KS for example.

    You make another valid point about Realors not wanting to spend the time w/ technology or understanding technology enough to utilize it.

    This brings to point another question - if Susanne and other RE photographers are going to offer a customized web-page for a property listing (and can charge $300+ based on their market conditions) then why would they not use vFlyer to create it? If a RE Photographer has immense HTML skills, one could argue that they could produce a nicer one than vFlyer offers - however, some of the demo vFlyer listings look more professional than the website she created that you've linked to above.

    Bottom line - if I were creating these for my Real Estate clientelle, and they were willing to pay $ for a "personalized website" listing, I would still utilize vFlyer to make it, as opposed to the one she created above, unless I could make one that was equal to or nicer in quality than the vFlyer version.

  4. Jason,
    There is a special exclusiveness and elegance in having a customized website with it's own domain name.

    vFlyers are very professional but don't look like web sites the look like flyers.

    You could make the same argument about why not use a professionally designed virtual tour like tourfactory.com or others instead of a custom website? They are really just custome websites. I think the answer is that upper-end buyers and sellers are into exclusiveness. They are impressed by have their one domain name and not being the same as everyone else:)

  5. Larry,

    To some extent I see your point. I doubt however in my marketplace that I would see to many people pay that type of premium (even those selling very high end homes) just to have a website that looks (in my opinion) less professional than one that I could create for them using vFlyer.

    Looking at the sample website property listing on her website - you cannot view the images as a "photo-gallery", and you cannot move quickly from one pic to the next, the viewer must wait for the pics to slowly scroll from one to the next. Cannot control the speed or actively select which pic to look at. Once again, someone with better HTML skills than she has or with more time to design the site could overcome this, but it baffles me that people are paying $300 for something like what she has in her example.

    Still, this is something I will explore in my marketplace - with a higher quality property website though that allows for thumbnail previews of the pictures, etc.

    Finally - if having a "customized URL" as opposed to a generic URL is that important (and worth paying that type of $ for) it is very easy to create a "new" URL shortcut link that says "www.joesmithshouse.com" that can be provided to the property-owner that will link to the existing generic website.

  6. A few more thoughts....

    Just like any other website, a "property website" is only as valuable as the # of people who can find it on Google/Yahoo, etc. My primary concern as a Realtor or FSBO is having people find my property online. So, unless she is creating the proper meta-tag data for each of these to be found via keyword searches and submitting each one of these she creates to their search engine directories, there is a large potential audience who will not know of them.

    vFlyer automatically creates the meta-tag data when the form is created, and automatically uploads it to six different sites (Trulia, Google Base, etc) and supplies the HTML code to quickly copy this into Craigslist.

    I created a quick sample of a completed vFlyer for showcase purposes (very few pics are loaded in here) - and I've added a few links at the bottom left corner that link to two types of 360s - one is a 360pano (non-wrap) and the other is wrapping 360s.

    Granted, it has the look and feel of a flyer - but if it looks professional, who cares? Given that viewers can opt to print this out as a 1 page flyer is another significant feature. Being able to imbed this HTML page into the body of an email is equally impressive.

    Here is my sample: http://nashvtp.vflyer.com/1/index.html

  7. I recently quoted a photo gig and threw out a price... after I heard crickets on the other end of the line, I threw in: "Oh and that includes a vflyer posting on vast, googlebase, craigslist, propsmart, etc. to take advantage of all the top free classified sites online" She was sold instantly.

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