Key Things You Should Know About Virtual Home Tours
The global coronavirus pandemic has affected every industry, and real estate is no exception. But just because people have not been able to view homes in person throughout this strange time, does not mean the real estate market has stopped. On the contrary, home sellers have continued to sell and home buyers have continued to buy. One of the key elements that has helped real estate transactions continue has been the popular and widespread adoption of virtual home tours.
According to recent research by Realtor.com, virtual home tours are viewed as the most helpful technology feature for prospective buyers looking to purchase a home since the pandemic began. Posting a virtual home tour can help buyers get a clearer sense of what your home looks and feels like before expressing their interest. And because it provides such a comprehensive picture before any in-person interactions, a virtual home tour is a great way to weed out seriously interested buyers from casual browsers. That can lead to faster home sales and better interactions.
As you prepare to stage your home tour virtually, there will be a lot of important factors to consider. In this article, we will walk you through several key things you do not want to overlook. That includes ensuring buyers, who are keen for virtual home tours, view your property in its optimal setting to show off key features.
Scheduling a Virtual Home Tour: Eliminate Clutter First
There is no better way to prepare for virtual home tours, than to clear out the clutter. We cannot emphasize enough just how important this step is in getting your home ready to show. For anyone who is potentially interested in buying your home, there is nothing more distracting than trying to get a sense of what the bare bones of a home look like when that home is chock full of stuff.
Clear out your belongings room by room before you begin to schedule any virtual tours. You want your home to look its best, and for viewers who have never actually seen your home before, it will be nearly impossible to tell what the space looks like if every surface is full of piles of things. Since virtual tours are already bound to be slightly less clear than in-person tours, you will want to make absolutely sure to eliminate any extra confusion or chaos from the virtual view.
Pack away any items on bathroom and kitchen counters, and make sure you consider every single space. Even the inside of your refrigerator and your bedroom closets should appear neat, tidy, and orderly. Stick to a minimalist approach as you sort through each room and try to embrace the process.
If you are having trouble deciding where to start, try approaching it through the lens of a particular tried-and-true expert’s method. The KonMari method by Marie Kondo has become hugely popular in recent years. This method focuses on finding joy in the objects around you and may work better for some areas of your home, like junk drawers cluttered with a mixture of sentimental and random objects and notes.
While it may seem like a lot of work on your part, but thoroughly decluttering every space before you show your home will not only make your home stand out for prospective buyers but can also help you prepare to pack up all of your things in a more organized fashion once your home does sell and you are ready to move.
Curate Your Personal Items
During your virtual home tour, it will be important to give interested viewers a sense of what the home can be like when it is personalized. An empty home never looks cozy, buy you will also want to avoid overwhelming the prospective homebuyer with your own personal decorations and items. The virtual home tour should help them envision what their life would look like in your property, which includes imagining how their objects and decorations would fill out every space.
Limit the amount of items on view to provide just enough of an outline for viewers to feel they are able to grasp how certain objects can fit into the space, but not so many things that they feel the house is already lived in- and therefore does not have room for them to move in.
Curating the personal objects you leave in on view is also an important safety measure to help you protect yourself. Virtual home tours are often made widely available, and sometimes even publicly accessible to anyone online. You will want to be a bit careful in terms of the kinds of items on display, making sure to deter any potentially opportunistic home invaders from casing out your home, room by room. If your virtual home tour clearly displays the location of expensive-looking jewelry, sophisticated tech equipment, or other such tempting items, then you may be unwittingly inviting trouble to enter your home.
Take extra care to hide any objects that seem expensive, and any possible weapons you may keep at home, such as guns or hunting knives. Kitchen knives are safe to keep on display, as every well-stocked kitchen has plenty of these. If you keep a safe at home, hide it with a fabric or other objects to cloak its location in your house. Any simple adjustments you can make to throw potential thieves off the scent can help make your home viewing more secure.
Put On A Home Tour Virtual Show
You may find it helpful to think about your walkthrough virtual home tour as if you are putting on a play. Set the scene by starting with the front entrance, then walk your audience of remote viewers through each room, scene by scene. First impressions can make a big difference, so be attentive to every part of how you will display your home, starting with the first image. If your front door is full of cobwebs, dust, and rust, viewers may immediately be put off by your home, and that quick first impression can last throughout the whole tour. Consider sprucing up your front entranceway with colorful potted plants and make sure there is functioning, ample lighting.
As you move throughout the house on your virtual tour, be sure to include every aspect for your viewers. Think about what you would want to see and look out for if you were viewing a home, and don’t be afraid to give your audience an up close and personal look into every nook and cranny your home has to offer.
Prospective homebuyers will want to see what the closet spaces look like, how much stuff they will be able to fit in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, where they can store their gardening tools, and more. Make sure your tour includes a view inside all your storage spaces, including the attic, basement, garage, and garden shed. If those spaces are part of the house and you show them, viewers will have a better idea of what kinds of amenities are available onsite. And they can rest assured that you are sharing with them a full and complete picture of every single part of the home.
Online Home Tours: Embrace 3-D Technology
High tech options for showcasing your home are increasingly popular today. 3-D virtual home tours provide added benefits for your viewers. They allow prospective home buyers more control over how they view the home and how much time they spend on each area, so they can see any room from any angle. This higher tech virtual home tour can help viewers to get a better sense of what it feels like to actually be inside the home space, making this perhaps the closest option to an actual in-person home tour, but available to viewers from anywhere across the country, or even around the world.
As with any virtual home tour, but especially for 3-D, make sure you have a steady, reliable internet connection before you broadcast. You don’t want your virtual home tour to be interrupted by glitches and cut-outs in the middle of your tour.
If you do choose to show off your home using 360-degree imaging and 3-D effects, make sure you are doing so in a smart way. Show off the entire scale and scope of each room by filming it from close to the center of each room, so viewers can get an interactive feel for the whole space. If you choose to shoot from the corner of a room, or up against a wall, walls are pretty much all your viewers will see. You want to choreograph a continuity of movement from one room to the next, to allow viewers to experience being immersed in the space and how movement naturally flows throughout the house.
Avoid putting the camera exactly dead center in the middle of every room, however, as this is not a space that people would likely stop to look around if they were there in person. Always try to maintain a human perspective by mounting your 360-degree camera at human height, so even as viewers are interacting remotely, they can accurately picture themselves there in person. If your camera is too high or too low, prospective home buyers may feel disoriented, like they are in a video game instead of a home tour.
Lighting is Everything During Virtual Tours
Lighting can change the entire mood of every space you are presenting. To best show off your indoor spaces, try to maintain a consistent blend of natural outdoor lighting and bright, focused indoor lights. Turn on your overhead lighting and lamps even in the daytime to allow your viewers to see everything.
If your lighting is too dark it can lend your space an inaccurate cave-like atmosphere, or make spaces seem smaller than they are. Cold, harsh lighting, in the meantime, can make any room feel overly sterile or uninviting. You want to strike the right balance between bright and warm, to make each room feel as welcoming, clean, and open as possible.
Whether you are filming the videos yourself for your virtual home tour or have brought an agent or professional company onboard to assist you, make sure to run through several trial runs, so that you can review the footage and ensure that everything is portrayed in the best lighting possible. Take some footage at different times of day and compare. Your space should be shown as a place that people will want to inhabit, so don’t underestimate the power that adjusting the lighting can have on mood and atmosphere.
Highlight Your Home’s Best Features
A word to the wise: putting in the extra hours on research can help your virtual home tour be just that much more successful. Think about the best features your home has to offer and combine those with some research into the current trends that homebuyers are looking for. If your home has a stunning view from the upstairs bedroom, make sure to emphasize this for viewers. Keep the windows and window frames sparkling clean and welcome viewers to picture themselves living with that view every day.
Private outdoor spaces are always a popular feature, so take the time to highlight your outdoor amenities as well. Whether you have a grill and a play set that is ideal for family barbecues in the summer, or a chaise lounge and a pool that add a feeling of luxury to the backyard, emphasize the narrative you want your viewers to take away from the virtual tour.
If your home has a balcony, patio, or terrace that gets particularly excellent views of the sunset, you may want to try scheduling the filming to take place during this time of day. If your viewers are going to fall in love with your home, then you want them to see it at its best, and virtually experience all of its finest features and amenities.
Virtual Home Tour FAQ
This list of frequently asked questions for virtual home tours should help point you in the right direction. Remember, you only get one opportunity for your home to make a positive first impression.
Do virtual house tours work?
In today’s Pandemic environment, a virtual house tour can make great sense. Many consumers are still reluctant to be in a group setting, so providing the ability to view your home online can be a smart approach. Like in-person viewings, your home should look its very best.
How long should a virtual tour be?
A virtual tour should be long enough to adequately show your entire home, including any special features you want to highlight. A typical tour lasts between 30 minutes and an hour.
How much does a virtual tour cost?
The cost of a virtual tour is dependent on several factors including the size of the property, your locale, complexity of video shoot, and the operator to name a few. In my area they currently cost $200 on average.
What makes a good virtual tour?
A good virtual tour has several features to include: high-quality video/images, good lighting, highlighted features, thorough descriptions, and clear audio.
Preparing Your Home for Virtual Tours
Preparing your home for a virtual tour is just as valuable as preparing for an in-person one. All the preparation you do will also help you prepare for cleaning, clearing, and ultimately leaving your home. So, getting ready to show it off to buyers is also getting ready to pass it off for someone else’s enjoyment.
Once your virtual home tour has been made, share it widely, and be sure to include it with any additional listing materials. Include relevant information about nearby points of interest, like local schools, grocery stores, parks, and public transportation. Focus on the home’s strongest features and share all the amenities, large and small, that come with the home. The more visual information you can include in your virtual home tour, the more excited home buyers will be to make an offer.
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