House-hunting today has transformed from the way it worked just two years ago. In 2019, the leading way to find a good apartment was to tour several apartment complexes and find an appealing available unit. Today, most families and individuals looking for a home are doing most of their searching online, and not just the initial search. Where renters once looked for homes online and then reached out for in-person arrangements, now your future tenants are hoping to complete their entire decision-making process online – including a virtual apartment tour.
Virtual Apartment Tour Overtake Live Open Houses
Live open houses plummeted in popularity in 2020, understandably, and something had to fill their place. Many people found that the meager photos available were not sufficient to get a no-contact feel for a house with the risk of a live tour. In this environment, a virtual apartment tour took center stage.
A virtual apartment tour offers a more immersive experience and gives those on the house-hunt a real impression of a home; the space, the warmth, and the flow from room to room. As virtual tours took prominence, we also found that a good virtual apartment tour really can help buyers know if they love a new home or not.
The Online Sales Funnel
One of the reasons virtual tours are so powerful is the sales funnel. It takes less time to click onto an apartment listing and dive into the virtual tour than it does to schedule and arrive at a live tour. Future tenants can tour homes, fall in love, confirm the bathroom is big enough for their kids, and make a decision in a single afternoon.
Accessible to Distant Applicants
Your tenants may not have the time or funds to fly back and forth to check out apartments. Anyone moving long-distance will find a virtual tour makes their plans much easier and can close a lease without extra travel.
No-Contact and COVID Safe
Of course, virtual tours really exploded as a no-contact way to house-hunt. Applicants can have a full and immersive walkthrough without the risk of direct contact or travel.
3D Virtual Tours
The current hot trend featured on real estate listing sites is the 3D virtual tour. 3D virtual tours and photo walkthroughs are the two most common in competitive apartment listings.
3D virtual tours are shot with a 360-degree camera. The camera is placed in key locations around the apartment and takes all-the-way-around detail photos of every unit. It only takes an hour or two for each apartment and when you’re done, it works like Google Street View where viewers can personally explore and look around almost like a real tour.
How to Shoot a Virtual Tour for Your Apartments
Making virtual tours for your apartment units is surprisingly easy. All you need is a professional photographer and a platform for your listings.
Shoot the Space with Your 3D Camera
Start with your photoshoot. You can hire professional 3D photographers or invest in a high-end 3D camera of your own and hone your agency’s photography abilities. 3D tours will use nodes in key standing locations where viewers can look around and then step to the next perspective.
Set the camera at each of the “standing” locations for virtual touring guests and take a high-resolution shot. When an entire home is photographed, you’re ready for the software.
Choosing and Using Virtual Tour Software
These high-res 360-degree photos can then be enhanced and turned into an interactive virtual walkable space. But first, you need the right software to build a virtual tour from your photos. Popular platforms include Guide, Concepts 3D, and Scenics let you select and connect your notes, add mouse-hover details, and other cool ways to ready your tour for the online public.
Add Tags and Icons
While you’re in the 3D software, don’t forget to enhance your online tours with extra details that will give your virtual experience an edge. Spotlight and zoom-in on the apartment’s best features. Add floating digital ‘tags’ providing information on features and square feet in each room. You can make your virtual tour just as informative as a cheerful agent leading a live tour.
Include Every Space
Don’t leave out the bathrooms or utility spaces. Many residents know how important the right bathroom can be, and won’t commit unless they can take a look. Your photographer may also have insights on where to stand so viewers can get the best perspective on each space.
Choose Your Units to Shoot
Depending on your building or complex, decide which units to create tours of. If you have duplicates of floor plans – in equal condition – you can use one tour for matching units. For a smaller building or more unique units, you’ll want a virtual tour for each individual unit. Most importantly, make sure your tenants’ expectations match what they find when they arrive in person.
Hosting Virtual Tours Without a Website
Now for the final challenge: hosting your virtual tours. Many apartment brands don’t have a website or don’t have a website with individual listings. Don’t worry about it. You have two great options.
Home Listing and Apartment Finder Platforms
If you don’t have a place to host your virtual tours, use online listing platforms. Both housing market and apartment finder websites make it possible to list your units and their tour media. Many now have a special hosting feature just for virtual tours.
Build Web Pages for Virtual Tours
If your apartment brand or location has a website, you can also build a new web page or rebuild your listing pages. Apartments with a floorplan page, for example, can add a link to each virtual tour per floorplan. Those with listing pages for individual units can link the tours through the listing page.
Build a Website for Your Apartment Brand
If you don’t have a website, you can build one to host your units, floorplans, and virtual tours. Paired with listings on the real estate platforms, having your own listings on-site provides legitimacy and greater engagement for potential future tenants.
Ready to provide your future residents with virtual tours and build your apartment brand’s online presence? Contact us today!