Presenting a property online is at the very center of real estate marketing. The options for doing that online presentation have increased enormously since they first became available in about 2000.
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 tours have evolved into multi-featured marketing site/systems. A tour is effectively a page or site dedicated to marketing a property. We should perhaps abandon the term tour since it means different things to different people. Typically marketing sites/systems can have some or all of the following: stills, video, floorplans, 360s, downloadable flyers, e-mail links, dedicated domains, music, syndication to national and regional sites, agent branding, links to local schools and neighborhood sites of interest. If used well by agents multi-featured tour sites have the potential to be a complete marketing system.
- How does video fit in? Video, if done well can be a huge addition or replacement of a slide show of stills. However, large high quality stills can, but don't always, look more elegant than a low or medium res YouTube video. Shooting great video is much more difficult looks and takes specialized gear! Bad video can be a negative so get the equipment and build your skills before you call yourself a videographer.
- What's the benefit of marketing site/system? The single biggest benefit of having your own marketing site allows is a more elegant presentation of your (or your clients) property than you get on most real estate sites. Most broker, regional and MLS sites have formats and designs that are stuck in the past. Having your own property site allows you to control the presentation of the property you are marketing.
- Connecting marketing sites to For Sale signs: Marketing sites can be a very powerful marketing tool if a potential buyer and agents can access them from their SmartPhone or tablet when they park in front the listing. You can do this with either a short URL or a QR code on the For Sale sign. A simple URL is best because more people will access it. I would say this feature is essential.
- Why are marketing sites popular in some places and not others? The big tour companies have spent years marketing their products to agents. The products that those tour companies sell are as much a property marketing systems as it is just a tour. Tour companies are present at real estate conventions, and many come around to real estate offices selling their products. All this marketing to agents has worked and created opinions among agents. My personal experience is that when agents compete for listings anything a listing agent can promise above and beyond the competition helps them win the listing and marketing is typically one of those factors.
- Do independent real estate photographers need to provide marketing sites? Many real estate photographers build a fine business just focusing on doing great photography and let the agents supply their own marketing site. 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.
- How do independent real estate photographers supply marketing sites 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:
- Whatever marketing site/system you use take the time to see what it looks like on a SmartPhone and tablet. The whole world (especially real estate agents) are moving to tablets. You would be amazed at the number of real estate marketing systems that either don't work or look lame on tablets. The above products all work fine on SmartPhones and tablets.
I believe it makes great business sense to be able to supply one of these marketing sites/systems with your shoot if your client desires. Tours will likely give you a marketing edge with some clients. If you are in a market area that has one or more of the big tour companies operating in it you it's likely you'll have to offer a marketing site/system just to compete. To some agents what tour you use is as important or more important than the photos.