We are in a pretty special time when it comes to selling real estate in New Zealand. The house prices are sky rocketing, vendors are receiving great returns for their homes and houses are selling quickly. It can be easy to get complacent and just ride the wave of home buyers looking to take advantage of getting into the market before the bubble pops.
But in times like this, is there a point in investing in a virtual tour to help sell a house when houses are selling already?
I wanted to explore this idea and discover whether or not these virtual tours that everyone is talking about, really live up to the hype. So here are the pros and cons of virtual tours to give you some insight on whether or not you should be offering these virtual viewings to your vendors.
Increase Your Funnel
In this current climate, to get the best return for our clients we are needing to look beyond the local area. Not only do we have property investors looking to invest outside their own town/city but we are also finding a large number of New Zealander's who have been living abroad, looking to return home. Traditionally, the trouble with reaching these potential purchasers has always been "how do I give them enough information to make them comfortable enough to purchase this house?" Photos aren't always enough and often aren't able to give you a feel for the layout of the property. Video walkthroughs are better at projecting more of the house layout but they still have to be kept short to stop people loosing interest, thus potentially cutting out information that would be interesting to certain purchasers. This is where a virtual tour comes in.
According to a Matterport, 55% of home buyers would be willing to purchase a home sight-unseen if they viewed a virtual tour of the listing. This is a massive advantage for potential purchasers outside of your region. If they have narrowed their options down to 5 properties and they aren't physically able to walk through the property themselves, what one are they most likely to pick? The one they have been able to walk through and view every aspect of the house through your virtual tour, or take a chance on another house with some photos and a video they are struggling to piece together? For conservative personalities there are only 2 real options, wait until they have the chance to view the properties in person (even if they miss out on these houses that they have fallen in love with) or purchase the only one that give them enough perspective and information to make a decision.
It's one thing to get people looking at your content. Its another to have them actually taking it in and remembering the information you are trying to portray. According to a Panomatics study, people stay engaged and view websites for 5-10x longer if they contain a virtual tour. The longer someone looks at your listing, the more time they have to picture themselves living in the home and to start making decisions like "where are we going to put the dining table?"
Higher engagement also puts you ahead in their mind when looking through other listings. When a purchaser is looking through 30 different listings online, you want yours to be front of mind and the one they remember over the others. The best way to achieve this is through a point of difference (such as a virtual tour) and having the purchaser spend more time with your offering compared to the rest.
One of the hardest parts of being a real estate agent is having so much information about your listings with limited time to get the information across to your potential purchasers. This is where virtual tours really excel. Because viewers are so much more engaged and stay on the platform for 5-10x longer, compared to a typical description and pictures. You are able to communicate so much more information to your audience in a fun and interactive way.
Want to get across how much your vendor has invested in the kitchen? this is made easy with an interactive popup. Want to explain why this is not a leaky home? easy. If there is information you want to get across to a potential purchaser, there is no more effective way than a virtual tour.
Not All Virtual Tours Are Created Equal
One aspect to keep in mind is the 'type' of virtual tour you invest in for your client. The most common form of virtual tour is a Matterport tour. You have probably seen these before. They have the dollhouse view which is a distinctive feature for these tours.
They are quick and easy to create but are limited in the information you can add within the tour. They offer restricted information hotspots and minimal branding and menu layout options. There are many other platforms that a company can create a virtual tour through, with each having their own pros and cons. It pays to shop around and find a company that uses the best software for your needs.
How they are hosted is another point to keep in mind. Most tours are hosted overseas which makes them hard to view on slower internet connections and are sometimes unstable and crash with high levels of traffic.
Virtual Tours can also vary a bit in cost. They tend to be priced on the size of the house. Some Virtual Tour companies price have set prices and some choose to offer a custom price to the exact square meterage. A standard size house will likely cost around $300-$600 to get a virtual tour done. Large houses can get up to $1,000 for a decent tour on your listing.
The final thing to decide on is how important measurable statistics are to you and your vendor. There are different levels of access that can be made available to you. Some don't offer any, whilst others offer everything down to the time your audience stayed on the tour and what they clicked on.
Because these features vary drastically, it pays to check with your virtual tour company before purchasing a tour through them to ensure you are getting the best possible tour for your needs.
Call to Actions
Call to actions are an important part of a great Virtual Tour. They turn your tour from a pretty place to browse into an full fledged, automated sales funnel.
Again, this varies greatly from provider to provider. Great virtual tours contain everything from call buttons to get in touch with you directly, to downloading the property files and even links to sign up for an auction. All within the tour itself.
You know this is working well when you see potential purchasers downloading files and signing up for an auction and you haven't even talked to them yet.
There have been many studies done around the effectiveness of 'sales funnel tours' with many claiming a good Virtual Tour will help to cut down your 'waste of time viewings 'by around 40% and because of the automated nature of the tour could help you get a 4-9% greater return for the property due to having more people in a ready state to purchase.
Taking away the barriers and time delays between contacts has also been said to reduce the time in the market for properties with a virtual tour by up to 31%.
Finally, it's one thing to sell a house more efficiently but one of the keys to being successful in real estate is getting houses to actually sell.
In this day and age, there is no shortage of real estate agents. Some sell themselves on being cheaper and others on their brand or reputation. One easy way to set yourself apart from the other real estate agents you are competing against is to show you think outside the box and have a cutting edge and efficient marketing strategy.
If a vendor is looking at 3 different agents and the first 2 agents have both suggested more or less the same plan of attack, you then turn up pull out a virtual tour to show them how you are expanding your marketing strategy. Not only will you target local buyers, but you plan to attract investors from all around New Zealand and Kiwi's returning home who are still overseas. Who do you think the vendor will go with?
Having some measurable stats on hand that back up your previous successes with this new tactic will be sure to be the nail in the coffin for any agents you are up against.
Pros and Cons
In summary, Virtual Tours are a great way to increase your reach and engagement, whilst streamlining your sales funnel. However they aren't perfect. You will need to do a bit of research to find the right Virtual Tour provider for you and will need to have some information on hand, ready to show your vendors why these tours are worth the $300 - $1,000 investment.
- Increase your reach to purchasers outside of your area
- Increase engagement on your listings
- More decision ready purchasers
- Point of difference to win more listings
- Not all tours are created equal
- It's another cost to the vendor. If your vendor is on a limited budget you may have to swap out a video (which is roughly the same cost)
- A little more setup time may be required to send through the relevant information, pictures and videos, depending on the information you are wanting within the tour.