Yes, We do Open Houses - A Quality Virtual Tour is a 24/7 Open House, 365 Days a Year

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Madeline Island Realty 50317-90

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.

Portal - Madeline Island Realty Virtual Tours 

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,, after just three weeks on the Web:

Tour Factory Stats - August 14 to September 4 

[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.


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Catherine Ulrey
Keller Williams Capital City - Salem, OR
Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your statement!  I am not a fan of OPEN HOUSES, your rebuttal with video tours is perfect, I use those!

Sep 05, 2010 04:30 PM #1
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


I guess thee is no one magic bullert. I think you are right that you will have your competition doing what you are doing today. Looked at one othe Virtual tours, pretty good. I am not sure I understand whhy you are using different tour providers/hosts, though. Are you comparing the results?

Good luck

Sep 05, 2010 04:31 PM #2
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Thanks, Catherine!

I've sat many open houses myself.  Using virtual tour technology serves the listing client far better than sitting in an open house waiting for walk-ins.

Sep 05, 2010 04:32 PM #3
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Jon, I've noticed that different tour providers syndicate to different websites.  There may be some overlap, but I'm trying to compare providers and at the same time I want to achieve as much reach as possible.  I like the look of my TourFactory tours the best, but there are some great features on the Previsite tours too.  And RealBird does a superb job'll notice some of my RealBird tours embedded in the margin to the right of my blog post here on AR.

Sep 05, 2010 04:37 PM #4
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Eric, we combine the two approaches and get a whole lot more people than that.  It's considered a slow day if we get 25 people through.  We us on-line virtual tours to get them to come see the real thing. 

Sep 05, 2010 04:53 PM #5
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Pat - Our Madeline Island Realty office is in the northwest corner of the State of Wisconsin.  We're about 225 miles from Minneapolis, 320 miles from Madison, 370 miles from Milwaukee and a little over 450 miles from Chicago.  If we don't reach out to vacation home buyers in those urban areas, our sellers are getting shortchanged.

On our little island, the audience for open houses is limited to whoever happens to be visiting here on a particular weekend.  That's not very reliable and not what I'd call great marketing.  I agree that open houses can work in a metropolitan area like Washington, D.C. or Chicago or Minneapolis.  But they seem to work very poorly here, if at all.

My typical buyer calls me from 200 to 300 miles away.  He or she wants to see the property before they drive a couple hundred miles and spend money on gasoline, ferry fees and lodging.  For us, it's essential that we give buyers a very thorough impression of what's available before they even leave home to come up here.

Sep 05, 2010 05:09 PM #6
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Eric, Virtual tours help give a good initial “feel” of a home. They will never replace actually going inside and seeing a home. Tours are like seeing a photo of a fabulous meal … the photo will not nourish and fill us.

Sep 05, 2010 05:13 PM #7
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Kathleen, I'm not advocating for one second the idea of replacing in-person views of any property with virtual tours. 

If you read my last comment above yours, we are selling recreational property in a remote area.  The counties surrounding us are part of the lowest population density area in the State of Wisconsin.  Most of our waterfront and home buyers don't come from the county in which we're located, they come from population centers in the upper Midwest.

The only way we can hope to induce them to actually come and see a home here is to give them as much information as possible.  For a real estate firm in a remote recreational area, virtual tours are a vital part of that effort.

Sep 05, 2010 05:20 PM #8
Barbara Chatterton
The Stark Company Realtors, Madison WI - Madison, WI
Greater Madison Wisconsin Area Realtor

Eric, I think you do have to use these tours and other excellent marketing to get the people to take the ferry to the Island. It is a unique dynamic up there, so I have heard.  Yours here are very  impressive tours with superb photography and very good stats.  If the photography is sub-par, the tours will not make  as great an impact.  We all have to use various techniques to find that one buyer, don't we?

Sep 05, 2010 07:33 PM #9
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Eric Kodner

CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -
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