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Are 360 Images and Walk-throughs a Successful Real Estate Marketing Product?

Published: 16/07/2018

In the past several years, we've had a number of discussions about 360 tours and 360 walk-throughs (not MatterPort tours) and some readers claim there is a demand in their market for this media while other readers say they have never been asked about 360 images.

Since creating 360 images and walk-throughs has been getting easier within the past couple of years, I think it would be useful for everyone to hear some specifics about the success of 360s. If you comment, please let us know:

  1. Are 360s a money making product for you?
  2. What geographic market area you in?
  3. What is the average number of 360s you supply per month?
  4. What kind of 360 camera/equipment do you use?

The demand for 360s has always been very different over geographic markets probably because in some markets, 360 image suppliers are marketing and some they aren't. This is an attempt to understand the variability in 360 tour demand.

Larry Lohrman

17 comments on “Are 360 Images and Walk-throughs a Successful Real Estate Marketing Product?”

  1. it’s been about 7 years since i have been asked to create a 360 pano ... it is not a money maker at all and not used here in Nashville on any listing i have seen in a while ... we are in the top 5 hottest cities ... we are dedicated to offering quality photographs that immediately describe and motivate buyers to want to see more amd i believe imho that is as simple as a well thought out, planned amd executed photo... but no disrespect to the video or 360 providers... i believe there’s a good use for it too just not for me to provide lol!

  2. i don't like 360's at all - to me they look very dated and tacky. In my opinion I find normal video (tripod and slider) or what I call walk through video (photographer using various possible equipment where he/she walks through the property is a much classier film and magazine 'architectural-look'

    If someone asks for 360, hdr, or anything I don't want to do my reply is 'successful (or up and coming) agents like yourself want the classier look of great magazine style photos and film style videos.

    Two clients wanted to try Matterport and hired someone to do just that. The feed back from their
    clients was 'it's cool to look at one property with it but the 'fun' wears off after one' - they want to look quickly through lots of listings (stills) and if they find one they like they may look at a not-too-long normal video where they don't have do do anything or play with controls.

    Clients tell me that even the videos are more of a marketing tool "look we do stills and video to sell your house' and that helps them to justify not dropping their commissions and make them look good to prospective homeowner clients - most of those same clients also do their own staging or hire stagers. Some do twilight for almost every shoot. These things don't make looking through listings more tedius or time consuming.

  3. I've been intrigued with 360 VIDEO for a couple of years, but it just never was quite high enough quality or easily distributed or edited.

    (by the way, the sample posted is 360 VIDEO - you have to spin it around with your mouse).

    I still do not think the quality is sufficient enough at the moment. More importantly, not all sites or browsers support 360 video yet. From what I understand Facebook and YouTube are pretty much the only place you can distribute this type of material.

    What I have been using it for (mostly experimenting I would say) is for Facebook promos for open houses, etc. It's different, it catches people's attention, etc. and top quality is less of an issue for something like that.

    Haven't bothered with it in 6 months as it's been way too busy to play around with, and is not the easiest to edit, but it's interesting. It's still not great video quality, people can be somewhat distorted (especially their hands) and audio is pretty bad. I even bought the special mic for my Theta V and it's still not great. No option to attach a lav or anything.

    I think it's something different for a very limited purpose. I would never use it as a home tour like in this example though.

    I have done it more as an experiment, so have not charged anyone. Not sure at this point if I would get many takers if I CHOSE to charge! As far as demand though, there has been absolutely ZERO. I'm foisting this onto my fun agents looking to try new things mostly...

  4. As a result of a post you guys did a while back I looked into the Ricoh 360 Tours system using the Theta V 360 camera and took them up on the trial offer. So far, over the past two months, I'm easily covering the cost of the unlimited tour hosting ($45/mo), and I've almost covered the cost of the camera ($400) by only adding $25 to the cost of my regular shoot fee. It only takes about 10 min to run through the house with the camera and take the pics. I could never get my agents (small town) to fork over enough to do a good DSLR video, but so far they don't mind paying a little extra to give their potential clients a more immersive view of the home. The quality is surprisingly decent and it doesn't require a second of extra effort from me after the pics have been taken. I agree with Shane that it's not beautiful, but I think the functionality of it is a worthwhile option to offer my clients. If they quit asking for it, I simply stop my subscription and walk away from Ricoh (nothing lost as long as you don't pay up front for the year). The Theta V camera is considered the best of its kind on the market right now for stills as well as video, so you can have fun with it for other applications if the RE doesn't work out. Here's a link to one of my recent tours just to give you an idea of what it does. It'll never win a PFRE video of the month award, but ...

  5. Zillow is getting ready to roll out a 360 tour across the country. It has already been in the Beta stage in Phoenix. We are waiting for more info, but from what I understand the tour will not be limited to just sharing on Zillow. You will have a link that you can share . At this point, I have not heard what kind of equipment will be required but in Phoenix they are shooting them with their IPHONES but will also allow tours to be shot with a 360 camera. Sounds interesting and will have the same positive effect on rankings on Zillow as the Walk-Through Video has. We have found the Walk-Through Videos have been a great add on in our market and I am excited about the 360 Tours.

  6. I'm not a fan of Matter Port because a buyer will sometimes write off a property that they might like once they see it in person. This would be a good add on as a "Coming soon" to clients or an "agent to agent" product.

  7. Like it or not 360's are coming full force. The Zillow program will roll nationwide in late 2018. Once again agents will gain some more control. Last year I purchased an Insta360 and it works well. I have provided a few free 360 to some of my regular clients on 1 story homes. It doesn't take long but still it does take some time to photograph and upload to a service. I use Istaging. It's a bit expensive but I purchase a year for quite a reasonable price and I belive I'm grandfathered at this point. I suspect demand will go up for this product and hosting prices will go down.

    I work in a market where professional photography is not the norm. I belive that soon, I am going to offer the 360 for a limited time as a freebie to build my market.

    It's only a matter of time before sellers demand a 360 (like they saw on their neighbors house in Zillow).

  8. I should have mentioned about the Ricoh Tours app. Taking the pictures is ALL you have to do. They're automatically uploaded into a gallery that you named on the app before taking the pics. All you need to do later is go on the app and "share" the link to the tour with whomever you want through whatever means you wish (email, text...). Very simple, uncomplicated process.

  9. Great topic! I used to create photo tours for agents in PFRE Tour but that was 7-8 yrs ago. We also produced property videos using sliders and sound equipment.

    Nowadays, agents in this area have access to photo-tour tools in Trend-Bright MLS. Many are also registered to Zillow and shoot their own iphone walk-throughs. So it's pretty well covered, which is fine with us. We have enough to deal with shooting pole aerials and lining up drone pilots to work with us.

    When it comes to the latest trend it's aerials and see drone video coming to the forefront more and more. Looking at this as a potential buyer would, IMHO drone video in conjunction with interior/exterior photos is where its at.

  10. I've lost 3 clients because they wanted 3D and have hired a Matterport photographer for all their properties. I think 3D is truly important to learn, but feel Matterport is just too big an investment and will be replaced as technology changes, by less expensive alternatives. I also was told by my agent who switched to Matterport that the company was only charging them about $200 for an average home up to about 3200 Sf.
    But besides shooting hi quality stills, I am just starting to shoot Video walk through's with my mirrorless camera, a zhiyun gimbal and a video tripod. Video editing is fairly new to me, and using I-Movie on my MAC, until I get my copy of Premier. I'm still in the learning mode, but have some agents that are waiting to see my samples. I think I like the quality and look of the video walkthroughs better than the 3D, but stuff changes quickly.

  11. I am not a RE-photographer (yet), our website is under construction and I am still working on my English, so I shouldn’t even stick my nose into your business, but I have some experience in 3D so I do it anyway. 🙂

    My wife is a realtor, and 2 years ago she wanted to offer 3D tours for an important client, so she decided to do Matterport. It worked like a charm, the client was happy, the property was sold, and the single commission from this deal paid the camera (we bought) for a dozen times. Since then, she ALWAYS offers “full service” marketing (HD photography, Matterport, Drone, Zillow video, single property website, etc.), for her clients. Matterport just started offering (in beta version) “Instant Galleries” which is an automatic 2D image generation from the 3D Matterport space. The images are more than acceptable; better than the majority of the MLS photos.

    Of course even I can do better RE photos with my own camera and Lightroom and Enfusion, but the automatically generated 2D images are definitely more than usable.

    I know, I am in the lion’s den here, 🙂 but imagine: “RE photographers are not needed anymore”, everybody can use the Matterport camera, the 25 HDR MLS photos are AUTOMATICALLY generated by Matterport. The drones are getting smaller, better and easier to use, your iPhone with a $130 Osmo mobile2 can do a smooth Zillow video walk-through in 10 minutes or less (Zillow 3D is coming soon), so a complete photo shoot can be done by a 10-years old, and the results are absolutely usable, better than most photographs on the MLS.

    Obviously, professional photographers will be needed forever, they are in a different ball game, but the trend is still scary…

  12. I am an out spoken opponent to Matterport. Yet I have come so close a dozen times to bid on a unit on Ebay (lost for sale on Ebay, maybe they aren't the money maker we have been led to believe). My fear is that it is proprietary and that not who I am, I have purchased to many things that the manufacturer left dangling after their demise. Anybody want a deal on a gigapan?

    So take Matterport out of the discussion, what's left. 360 video cameras like Richo, Samsung Gear etc. Well they are crap, fun crap but crap nonetheless for our needs. Anybody want a deal on a Samsung Gear 360 video camera?

    What's left? well the stuff that works. A Nikon or Canon full frame coupled with a Sigma 8mm lens, a 4 or 6 stop rotator and software that gets better all the time. Want to shoot apc , try a Sony Nexus, 6000, 6300 (my choice) 6500, or any other mirrorless that Mieke 6.5mm fisheye will mount to, same rotator and same software.

    I used to do a 360 as an addon 60% percent of the time, not it's 20%, I also offer video walk through like Zillows but with decent gear, Sony 6300's, 12mm Samyang lens and a Zhiyun Crane V2 (got a couple of them) and they are an addon 10% of the time, really up or down, not steady.

    If you want honest figures look here, it's my testimonial page and all the numbers are accurate and dynamic from my property posts. (these are hyperlinks so check out the 3D 360's and Video's etc. Now before you say 'but.....' these figures are totals and do not reflect when I started offering them, so 73 videos is in the past 12-18 months, drones, the same, 3D 360's from the beginning.

    Although I have been hired to just do a "" 98% has been as an add on. An addon that takes an additional 15 minutes and puts an extra 100 in the pocket. My post processing is so automated that an addon adds about 15 minutes to my work load and I was already there. So if you want to know if it's worthwhile, I would say yes, but to do work means you have a bunch of new software to learn and you need to start hosting everything except YouTube yourself. I add 5 or so gigs of virtual tours monthly, you have to find a reliable hosting provider that realizes that will put the 'unlimited' to the test.

    That said, how much of an investment are you willing to make and how much new stuff are you willing to learn..

    Here is an example of what you can do my way click on the red teardrops . For more just look at some of this stuff is pretty old and may still be flash based, I just haven't had the energy to redo it all.
    Let's see Matterport go for it. The 360 Video options just do not have the resolution (unless you get 6 gopro's and cage them. TYah, I though about it, I even have an RC car that the 360 camera mounts to and I can drive through a house, poor quality though and the camera movement 4 feet up is hard to take, but it is possible.

  13. I try and talk agents out of all sorts of stuff in my area which is very light on basic professional stills. Adding Video, 3D, 360's, etc isn't as big of a jump as just getting professional stills. In other markets where top quality stills are used on the vast majority of listings, agents may need to add a video or a trendy new bit of tech to give them an edge in getting new listings. As far as getting interested leads on a property, good stills are still the best hook. Price will sell the home. The marketing is there to get a potential buyer to call. Going full press with photos, video, 3D etc etc is either a waste of money or just there so an agent can point to something that differentiates themselves from every other agent that would love to hold the contract on the listing.

    I can't even be bothered to look at listing videos in my area. They are indescribably horrible. The stills can be bad too, but they load fast and I can click through them quickly on any device without having to download a new "app" (which I don't do) or have a phone/tablet running full out in a feeble attempt to display the file. I look at listings just about everyday to keep tabs on local agents and to keep track of how many are using pro images. Occasionally I see an icon that links video or another media type, but those links don't really jump off the page and scream "click me". I assume that many people shopping for a home are much like me and after spending the time to watch one seasick making video after another just encourages them to stop clicking those links. Maybe later in the year I'll see if the overall quality has improved, but I don't have much hope when listing after listing seems to have the agent in the bathroom mirror holding up their phone or tablet to take stills and video.

  14. I was asked once to provide a video walkthrough, but when I told my client there would be an additional charge he changed hi mond. Apart from that no one else has ever asked for a 360 image, video or walkthrough.

    I guess people just want to see good quality stills. I feel that the demand for video is massively overstated.

    Rick MeEvoy -

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