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Current Trends in Real Estate Photography Tour Usage

Published: 25/02/2008
By: larry

Tour usage overall and video tour usage are both increased significantly over 2007.Last year at this time when I looked at tour usage only 8% of the listings I reviewed on our local MLS (Seattle's east side) had links to tours. Click here for last years details. This year when I looked at a similar number of listings (452) in the same geographical area and 14.3% of the listings were using tours of some kind. Keep going, it gets better!Tour usage on upper-end listings ($800,000 and above) accounted for effectively all of the increase over last year. Upper-end tour usage moved from 4.6% in 2007 to 22.5% in 2008 while lower-end ($400,000 to $600,000) increased from 7.5% in 2007 to 7.9% in 2008.In 2007 only 0.6% of listings I reviewed had video tours in 2008 video tours increased to 2.8% penetration. All but one of the video tours were done by the same local tour vendor ( Here are two video tour examples: example 1, example 2. One interesting fact is that all the increase in video usage is all in the low-end listings. Upper-end video usage stayed the same from 2007 to 2008.Conclusions:

  1. This data is from 450 listings on Seattle's east side. Making extrapolations to other geographic areas and markets is always risky but I think the increase in tour usage in high-end homes in a slowing market is a safe extrapolation. Upper-end listing agents are working harder to market homes in the current high inventory down market. They are doing this by spending more on tours.
  2. Increased use of video I think reflects the video-hype currently going on. According to those marketing video tours this is the next big thing. The fact that the video usage increased only in the low-end listings suggests that the upper-end listing agents may not impressed with video tours. This second conclusion is probably more risky than #1 due to the fact that all the increase in video tours is by one vendor. This difference could be just some targeted marketing by that one vendor.

5 comments on “Current Trends in Real Estate Photography Tour Usage”

  1. Interesting statistics, Larry. I wonder if the increase in video tour usage that we're seeing at the low end is just due to some new video tour entrants in your market. New entrants have to do something to interest potential users and the easiest way to differentiate yourself and attract attention is through price.

    If this company is marketing themselves cheaply, it's likely that agents at the low end of the market will give them a try while agents at the high priced properties will just as likely stick with whomever they're currently using. (I'm finding that Realtors are pretty sticky when it comes to working with people like photographers and home stagers...thank God! 😉 )

  2. Interesting observations Larry and good to hear that demand is steadily increasing! I too believe a slowing RE market is actually beneficial for us photographers as Realtors actually have to market the property to remain competitive! I've found that when the RE market was red hot that Realtors weren't even bothering with virtual tours as the listings were literally flying off the shelves.

    I find it interesting that the video tours are showing up mostly in the low end homes in your area though... There is currently only one video producer doing video tours in my market, and they charge a minimum $300 (as opposed to $100 for Walkthrough Media, which is pretty darn cheap) for a listing and they seem to be attracting all of the high-end realtors! It's almost as if they like the "sexy factor" of the technology and are willing to pay anything for it.

    I also wonder how much age plays into the grand scheme of things. Those who are younger and just cutting their teeth on low-end listings may be the ones who are most comfortable with the technology of streaming video (thanks to the likes of YouTube).

  3. @Terry,
    I think your suggestion about the age factor is right on. It takes a whole career to be will established in upper-end home marketing so most upper-end agents are much older than the newer tech savvy younger agents. I know agents that market upper-end homes that don't know the difference between their e-mail address and their website address! This is changing fast though since marketing has become so web oriented.

  4. Larry, my firm has jumped on the bandwagon big-time when it comes to virtual tours. Our owner made a decision at the end of last year to become a Showcase Listing office on, and include a virtual tour on every listing. He recognized that a large sector of the buying market is very tech-savvy, and expects to see lots of on-line marketing. We have a staff person in the corporate office that will build the tour for any agent that provides the photos, but I prefer to have complete control over my tours, from stitching pictures to selecting background music.
    Even though I'm a boomer, I am working hard to keep up with technology tools that agents need to relate to X'ers and Milleniums. My only weakness; I can't stand text messaging. I have my Blackberry, but I have resisted any temptation to TM.
    I am primarily a listing agent, and tools like the Blackberry and the virtual tours are a great value to my marketing. To succeed in this business today, I believe we must be able to relate to all generations, all personalities.

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