One of my competitors on Madeline Island is sitting at an old-fashioned "Open House" today. He was there last weekend too, diligently waiting for people to walk in off the street and look at his listing. I'm told he had a total of four visitors last Saturday.
The problem with those old-fashioned Open Houses is that they rely upon drive-by prospects to notice the "Open" sign. Hopefully, those drive-by folks will overcome their nervousness about being face-to-face with an agent and then they'll actually stop the car and go inside.
Four viewings in five hours is a pretty slow and inefficient way to market a house, in my opinion.
By contrast, a high-quality Virtual Tour is a far more efficient and it serves the seller better than a traditional Open House does. We typically assemble twelve to eighteen high-resolution, high quality photos per property in a virtual tour format, using several different tour providers/hosts. Our tours include wide angle interior shots, panoramas and exterior views. We also run video mini-tours on YouTube.
We've received praise for our Virtual Tours from all over the country. I had an agent in my office today from New England who came in to ask "who's your photographer". I told her "you're looking at him".
So I'll refer to our tours instead as "Virtual Open Houses". They run online, 24/7, 365 days a year.
Here are a few reasons why I believe our Madeline Island Realty Virtual Open Houses are superior to the traditional Open House concept:
- People recall more about a house or property when they view it online. If they want to take a second (or third) look, all they have to do is return to the virtual tour by clicking on a Web link.
- I can better serve the buying public and my listing clients at the same time by using Virtual Tours. My time is better spent arranging a showing after a prospect has viewed a home online and they become interested in that home.
- The buyer who views an online tour can print out all the details you'd find in an MLS data sheet, including square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, acreage, beach frontage and so forth.
- A quality virtual tour gives the viewer a better "feel" for what it's like to be inside the home, with greater convenience. Many of our buyers come from Minneapolis or Duluth or Milwaukee or Chicago. They want to be sold on the look and feel of a property before they drive 3-5 hours to view it in person.
Marketing using still photography is fine, provided that the consumer is willing to click through a long list of photos, or scroll down a lengthy Web page. And of course, those photos need to be high resolution, properly edited shots.
But combine still photography with Virtual Tours in your marketing and you've achieved a powerful combination. Look at some statistics for our Virtual Tours with our new tour host, TourFactory.com, after just three weeks on the Web:
[My thanks to the folks at TourFactory and Home Debut for giving my listings this kind of visibility on the Web.]
Over five hundred property views per week over a three week time span is a pretty good way to reach out to prospective buyers. I doubt you could get a total of five hundred property viewings at open houses on Madeline Island if you held opens every day between May 1st and Thanksgiving.
I've heard a few competitors are chuckling over this. But a year from now, they'll all be imitating what we're doing today.