5 tips for a great virtual property tour
Virtual tours helped multifamily owners and managers show properties and fill vacancies during the pandemic. Now, prospective renters have come to expect them.
In fact, offering a virtual tour could be the difference between getting your unit occupied quickly or having it sit vacant.
With that in mind, here are five tips to create compelling virtual tours that will capture renters’ attention.
1. Invest in good equipment
To start, you’ll need a camera with a wide-angle lens. Although your smartphone might be perfectly usable, some property owners and real estate professionals splurge on more advanced technology for virtual tours.
“You’ll need a camera capable of shooting in 1080p or higher” to capture high-definition video, says Shaun Martin, owner and CEO of the Home Buying Co., a real estate investment firm in Denver. Martin suggests a shutter speed of at least 30 frames per second, which will enable you to capture sharper images.
It’s also a good idea to use a tripod to ensure stability while capturing as much of each room as possible.
If you’re interested in using more advanced tools for your tour, look into software that lets you create a 3D experience users can explore.
Nicole Shahverdi, director of marketing and operations at Baltimore-based Bay Property Management Group, says she uses a virtual tour software platform and starts by capturing a walkthrough of their vacant homes. She says it’s “easy to do with just a smartphone, either handheld or using a special 360-degree tripod.”
Of course, if you’re not comfortable recording and editing the tour yourself, you can always hire professionals to handle it. Ask other property owners and managers and real estate agents whom they’ve used to produce virtual tours.
2. Map your route around key features
An engaging virtual property tour highlights every room and property feature occupants can expect to enjoy after signing a lease and moving in. Your tour should mimic the experience of an in-person, first-time visit to your property. Film the route you’d take potential renters on.
“Start by filming the exterior of the property, then move inside and film each room individually,” says Rinal Patel, a real estate agent and co-founder of We Buy Philly Home, a real estate investment company in Philadelphia. “This will give viewers a good overview of the property and help them get a good feel for its layout.”
Patel also recommends highlighting the most important features of each room.
“If you’re filming a living room, make sure to focus on the fireplace, furniture and any architectural features,” she says. “Pan around the room slowly so that viewers can take in all of the details.”
To make your virtual tour as useful as possible, think about the questions you typically get from potential tenants during an in-person walk-through and address them on video. For example, if potential tenants often ask whether your unit has a washer and dryer, feature the laundry room setup on your tour.
3. Shoot in bright light
Make the rooms as bright as possible and avoid filming harsh shadows. In addition to filming during the day with natural lighting coming through windows, Martin suggests turning all the lights on.
What if you have no choice but to shoot at night?
“Try using an external light source, like an LED lamp,” Martin says.
4. Declutter the unit
Ensuring rooms are clean and tidy helps prospective tenants imagine themselves living at the property, says Dan Close, founder and CEO of real estate investment business We Buy Houses in Kentucky. It also makes the space look bigger and more appealing while minimizing distractions.
“The camera captures everything in 360 degrees, so if you put your camera bag on a table while taking shots, it’ll be in the photo,” Close says. “Prior to shooting, do a 360-degree turn to easily determine whether the area is in excellent shape for the shoot. If you notice anything odd, make sure it’s hidden because, if not, the camera will notice it too.”
5. Consider live video walk-throughs
Recording a virtual tour and publishing it on listings sites can certainly help you rent more properties, but you can conduct real-time virtual tours too.
“Our agents often use a video call … to walk through a property with the potential tenants, actively looking at the details within the home and answering any questions that clients ask,” Shahverdi explains.
Nick Good, a real estate broker and investor based in McKinney, Tennessee, agrees that live virtual tours can be a great way to connect with would-be tenants in a more personal way.
“Don’t miss the chance to continue the conversation and learn more about the tenant’s preferences,” Good says. “Spend some time discussing issues like pet regulations, move-in dates and any additional fees to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.”
Just remember: If you go this route, make sure each room is brightly lit before starting the video call. It’s also a good to map out your route ahead of time and even rehearse to create a seamless experience for the folks watching.
By the editorial team at Story by J.P. Morgan