Is it a good idea to use your iPhone as the only marketing tool to capture images of your listing's luxuty home?
In fact, shooting your luxury listing with just your iPhone is proving to be one of the fastest ways to get agents fired.
Granted, technology today makes it easy to snap slide shows of home inventory with our iPhones. If you're selling homes in the $200 - $300k range, I'm sure a still photo works just fine.
But when you pick up a $1-million, $3-million dollar or larger listing, then it's probably not a good idea to be using your iPhone as your only marketing tool.
I could care less how many apps are out there that take different kinds of slide shows, or lets you create amazing cartoon effects while capturing snapshots, or promises you their app is going to let you zoom to the top of the search engine visibility above Zillow or Trulia.
It's all bunk.
Home owners aren't naive any longer. They clearly understand the differences between a slide show and a 360 virtual tour.
They know how to use Google, too. When you do a really good job for a home owner, they'll tell other friends who own homes how good you are.
If you do a crappy job at marketing their luxury home, they'll tell other friends how much of a cheapskate you are.
RULE OF THUMB: If all you're using is an "all you can eat," slide show services proivider for $20 a month to market and list your home inventory, then sooner or later you're going to make a few smart homeowners very, very upset.
On Monday of this week, I'm one of the guest speakers on an REI telephone / WebEx training webinar. I get my ten minutes to talk about 360 virtual tours, and soon 360 video tours. Despite my intentions, my ten minutes stretched out be closer to 20 minutes with lots of questions from commercial and luxury agents on the call.
After bowing out and apologizing for taking up so much time, I gave everyone my Colorado office number and suggested that anyone wanting to learn more -- can give me a call.
Tuesday morning, I barely get enough time to hit the Keurig coffee machine in the kitchen when my iPhone rings.
Woman on Phone: "Hello, do you have any real estate agents that can shoot a VPiX tour in my town?"
Bart: " Most likely, yes. Where are you? What city, please?"
Woman on Phone: "Oh, I'm in Beverely Hills."
Bart: "I assume that's California?"
Woman on Phone: "Yes, beautiful Beverly Hills."
Bart: "Nice, to hear that. I'm guessing you've listed your home with a REALTOR already?"
Woman on Phone: "Yes, I did and I'm not really happy with their marketing approach. I liked what you had to say about common sense real estate marketing approaches yesterday on the webinar. "
Bart: "Ah, okay. What seems to be making you unhappy with what your agent is doing... or not doing, if I can ask?"
Woman on Phone: "I'm semi-retired now, but I used to work at Century 21. I'm pretty sharp on keeping up with what marketing tools and techniques that are being used today to help sell home inventory. One of our friends listed their home and the agent hired a VPiX photographer."
Bart: "Okay, so you are unhappy with the VPiX tour that was taken for your friend's listing?"
Woman on Phone: "Oh goodness, not at all. That's the point of my call. I loved it. Debbie came over yesterday and could not stop talking about it. She handed me her iPhone and told me to see her listing and that's part of the reason why I'm calling. I want to get one, too."
Bart: "Ah, okay. Well thanks. I know who here agent is and he typically hires Jason Sievert of 360 Virtual Visions , so why not get your agent to call Jason, too? He's one of our best."
Woman on Phone: "I suggested that, but my agent is insisting she knows what's best. She's pretty animate that making people dizzy with a 360 panorama will not help sell my home. She uses Visual Tour, and they're nice, but they're just slide shows. I really wanted the same photography service that Debbie used, which led me to calling you."
Bart: "Okay, so why not hire Jason directly?"
Woman on Phone" "Oh, I can do that? I thought you only worked with real estate agents."
Bart: "Well, we have lots of brokers and agents using the VPiX system and they offer their listings virtual tours of course, but there's nothing that stops you from working with a local VPiX certified business photographer, so please. Call Jason with my compliments. He'd be happy to do the work for you, too."
Woman on Phone: "Really? And he will post my 360 of our home to the MLS and to Realtor.com as a showcase listing?"
Bart: "Yes, of course. If your agent isn't already paying for that showcase listing service, it's just an extra charge of $25, and your listing will sport the virtual tour link within 15 minutes after Jason uploads it."
Woman on Phone: "We have a split level home in the foothills and I hired someone to do a really nice custom floor plan. Can Jason add that to my tour?"
Bart: "Yes, he can. Let me show you a VPiX real estate virtual tour we did for Donald Trump and one of his $25 Million Dollar Apartments in Manhattan."
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Here is what is interesting. I do the REI teleconference on Monday. Tuesday I get 11 phone calls. 10 of them were brokers and agents. One was the homeowner woman in Beverly Hills.
If slide shows were the "only tool needed," for marketing homes today, why is it that our VPiX visitor traffic spiked to over 20,000 views on Monday during the same time I was on the REI training call?
The Donald Trump 360 tour of a $25 million dollar apartment I showed during the Monday conference was seen by over 7,204 people in just five hours.
Apparently, there's a lot of agents who seem to agree that slide shows are about as useless for marketing luxury homes as 8-track tape stereo is for listening to music today.
A Century 21 broker from Florida bought a VPiX 360 kit on Tuesday, and today (Wednesday) we sold 7 more.
The final score:
Slide Shows: 0
Virtual Tours: 8