Two of the most popular ways to show off real estate are videos and virtual tours. But did you know that interactive floor plans are more effective and a better value for your money? I’ll tell you why.
I have nothing against well-produced videos and virtual tours. They can give you a realistic and detailed view of interior spaces, almost as though you were standing inside a room looking around in person. If you have the budget, by all means, utilize these mechanisms to supplement your listings. Just don’t rely on a video or virtual tour alone to convey a property to prospective buyers. Why? Because they don’t present the entire picture like a floor plan does.
Think for a moment about how you use the internet today. If you are like most people, you spend seconds, not minutes, deciding whether to continue looking at a page or move on to another site. Home buyers are no different when looking for a property. They want to know at a glance if a particular listing warrants their attention. If they have to sit through a video presentation for every listing on your site, they are going to go to one of your competitors. But if your site has interactive floor plans, they’ll stay longer and keep looking at what you have to offer.
Why are interactive floor plans so effective? Because they allow viewers to immediately see the entire property - how the rooms are laid out, how big they are, and where windows and doors are located - and also zoom in on what’s important to them. For one buyer it might be the kitchen, for another it’s the bathrooms, or a workshop. Move your mouse over the kitchen to see a photo and read that the counter tops are granite and the cabinets are Cherry. You can’t do that with video or virtual tours.
The very nature of videos and virtual tours is that they are sequential. You have to sit through them until you see what interests you. Imagine if you went to a restaurant and had to watch a video to learn what was on the menu. That might work if you were only interested in appetizers, but what if your delight is desserts - you’d have to sit through the whole thing just to get to the good part. Also, it’s harder to get back to something you are interested in, but with an interactive floor plan you can go where you want with a flick of your mouse or touch of your finger on a mobile device.
Another big advantage of floor plans is that they allow you to see how rooms relate to one another. It’s obvious that the kitchen is connected to both the dining room and the family room, but with a video, you only see one room at a time and can’t easily tell how rooms connect or the relative sizes of the rooms. And neither video nor virtual tours work well in small spaces like a powder room or walk-in closet. There just isn’t enough room to move a camcorder around, but a still camera with a wide angle lens will do the job nicely.
Quality is another factor to consider when choosing multimedia marketing tools. Anyone who has ever taken a home video can tell you how easy it is to make a bad video and how hard it is to make a good one. The camera shakes, the sound is poor, the focus is bad and the lighting is too dark or too bright. While not everyone is Ansel Adams with a still camera, most of us can take a decent still photo with a good quality point and shoot model. And that’s all you need to create an interactive floor plan - no need for a lot of special equipment to produce professional results.
Cost wise an interactive floor plan is the clear winner for low price. Using online interactive floor plan software like MapsAlive, you can get a very high quality result for under $30. Just upload your floor plans and photos, drag hotspots to show where photos were taken, and type some descriptive text to highlight special features of the home. You’ll get back a URL right away that you can link to from your site. You can even embed the floor plan right into your listing page making for a fantastic marketing tool that potential buyers will love. But don’t take my word for it; ask your clients what they prefer and you’ll get votes for floor plans again and again. Since buyers want them, they are easy to create, and they cost very little, why would you choose anything else?