Virtual tours are becoming an increasingly popular choice for residential estate agents looking to showcase property in more engaging, innovative ways. As we move to an era in which agencies must embrace the rolling tide of PropTech or fade away altogether, we take a look at the top reasons why virtual tours are fast becoming the go-to method for property marketing that goes the extra mile.
1. Win More Listings
For estate agency in the UK, the number one task is to get new properties to market. However, selling to landlords is not an exact science, and an agent must do all they can to differentiate themselves from the competition. Any service that gives your agency an edge over your competitors will go a long way to securing that all-important listing.
2. Secondary Viewings
A little first-hand experience, here. I was in a pub in Dublin with one of our clients. Though it was quite late in the evening, I could never forget what she said: “I do a virtual tour for every single listing in order to have strong sales material to send together with a brochure after the viewing. It’s like buying shoes; if you like them, but they are really expensive, you go back and back to the store, check pictures on Instagram, and so on. For a house, going back to it several times is not as easy, but if I can give the buyer a perfect digital tour, that allows them to let their imagination fly.”
3. Show husband!
There is rarely just one decision-maker involved in a property purchase. The buyer is likely to need approval from their husband, wife, parents or friends (or at least be seeking their validation). Realistically, however, not everyone will be present at an in-person viewing. A virtual tour allows all parties to get sight of the property at its best, without multiple viewings, saving estate agents’ time as well as increasing the odds of a sale.
4. Rent online
The world today moves faster than ever before. People relocate to study or to work in huge numbers. Finding a place to live, particularly for just a year or two, can be a tremendous hassle. One of Giraffe360’s first clients has built their whole business on renting apartments to Chinese students moving to London. EuGin Song, the CEO of the company, says: “There are 200K students moving from China to London every year, and in almost every case they do not have the opportunity to visit the UK to choose their property in advance, so we have to do the deal online.” Virtual tours facilitate the online process for overseas renters, buyers and investors.
5. Cut Down On Wasted Viewings
This has been the number one tag line for adoption of virtual tour technology. In real life, this hasn’t played out as well as in the marketing because viewing count also impacts other aspects of the business and purely measuring this is hard, but clients are reporting figures in the range of 30%-70% drop in wasted viewings. Even though it is hard to measure and assess the actual value impact on the business, qualitative results have been clear: applicants view more properties online, visit only properties that they are really interested in, and arrive at a deal faster when virtual tours are employed as a marketing strategy.
6. Lead Generation
On average, when viewing a 2 bedroom apartment online, people spend 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Property photography gets 3 seconds’ attention and video 48 seconds. For the latest version of the Giraffe360 virtual tour, we are testing an AI-driven sales bot, to start communication as soon as user attention has been piqued, and generate a lead card at the end of the virtual visit to be sent directly to the agent.
7. Content Marketing
Imagine organising an important dinner in a restaurant that you have never been to. Online, one restaurant’s website shows smartphone photos from the venue. The second restaurant has wide angle photos, a virtual tour, a plan of the venue and (of course!) a menu. Which do you choose? Content has been king of marketing for a long time, and virtual tours offer an example of outstanding content. Even if you don’t measure quantitative value for a specific property transaction, the overall marketing value of offering attention-grabbing, tech-literate content is powerful in many aspects of business.
8. Better Service for Applicants
Respect your buyers. As a salesperson, it is your job to show them what the property has to offer. Pushiness dispels trust, which is a value that every agent needs on their side. Virtual tours enable you to step back and let the property do the talking, which it will. Consumers, across all industries, place a high value on being in control of their purchase decisions, and on the experience they have with a brand throughout their purchase journey. By offering virtual tours, which they can take in the comfort of their own home, at their own pace, you give them that all-important sense of control, and the space they need to make the right decision. And once they are ready, you can be there to guide them through the next stage with care and due attention.
It has never been more important to keep up with the times. Innovate or die, so goes the saying, is truer than ever. Even though real estate is notoriously slow on the uptake of digital transformation, change is coming. Indeed, the best agencies are already deep into their technological journey. Virtual tours are a simple-to-enact tech solution that is both cheap and fast to implement. Do not fall by the wayside and be caught on the wrong side of history. Innovate.
10. Reporting to owners for rental properties
We are seeing a rising trend in the use of virtual tours as part of an inventory report at the end of tenancies. Photographic evidence has long been used as supporting collateral in inventories and dilapidations schedules. Virtual tours give an extra layer of insight, which can prove very beneficial in the event of any dispute.
These are ten reasons to use virtual tours in your estate agency business, but please keep in mind that this is not a quantity contest; find one that fits your business best and master it! Good luck!