All Virtual Tours are not created equal. When deciding to add a Virtual Tour to your listing it's important to know exactly what it is adding to the information that the consumer already sees on the listing. There are several different formats for virtual tours.
There's the most commonly used "let's diguise a slideshow as a Virtual Tour" approach. These are done by the Realtor or by a service that takes the photos the buyer has just looked at and creates a zoom-in, zoom-out or pan across effect on them and adds some music. All this does is take longer for the potential buyer to view the SAME PHOTOS they just saw in the listing gallery!
Then there's the 360 degree circle view which is four photos shot from the center of a room and stitched together. While this at least adds wider viewing area, it usually is accompanied by an odd warping in and out as the edges of the original photos are approached. Also, I don't know how you look at a house, but I have NEVER stood in the center of a room and spun like a top.
Obviously, as a videographer I think that a true Video Tour is the best choice and I ask you as Realtors to think about why it benefits your listing and seller for some valid reasons. A tour done with an actual video camera adds the ability for a viewer to see the real expanse and layout of a room and get a feel for the space. When done right the video has a natural feel, as if you were entering a room and looking at it upon walking in. Obviously much more scope of a room can be portrayed than in a photo. Video is especially helpful in showing the relationship/layout of space in rooms that are unusual. A master suite with a sitting area, a large kitchen with nook and pantry areas, or a contemporary floorplan can especially benefit from a wide pan that shows the spatial layout. Some Video Tours are hand held walk throughs, and some are tripod-based steady pans. Both have advantages, and though I use a tripod and pan a room, I think that walk throughs are good too if they're done well.
At least in this area (MA), the MLS has a policy that photos and virtual tours must be IDX compliant. This means that any identifying information about the Realtor or their broker in photos or tours is taboo. My understanding is that this is because of all the smaller/independent members who grab the listings from the MLS to have on their sites. So in your photos and if you have a Virtual Tour done, keep this in mind. I know of at least one broker who does branded tours and so their virtual tours will not open on the MLS (and I assume other sites that grab from them). I'm not clear why Realtors would do this, and am curious to hear from any who do - are the Realtors aware that they do not open?
What's to the left? A fireplace between cherry built-ins. What's to the right? A lovely eat-in area with french doors to a patio. The layout and flow of the space is apparent with a wider video pan.
So, as good Realtors working for your sellers, please take a hard look at what your Virtual Tour is providing for your potential buyers. Give them MORE information about your property, not the same in a rehashed format. In marketing there is an adage, If it doesn't add, it takes away.
Amy Hunter, Hearth & Home Videos, Metrowest MA www.rezvid.com