This article was originally published with Estate Agent Today on 3 September 2020.
Whilst Estate and Letting Agents have adapted their operations during COVID-19, to ensure safer working practices under Government guidance, ‘virtual property viewings’ have become ever increasingly popular, helping to minimise the number of physical viewings needing to take place.
Although virtual tours have been around long before now, there have been huge advances in the technology and with this, brings various interpretations of what defines a virtual tour. ‘According to Wikipedia a ‘virtual tour’ is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images’. The huge disparities between different types of virtual tours are not always immediately clear and the quality, features and costs can vary significantly. Here we explore the most common virtual tours and the differences between them.
These are often a slide show series of still photography set to a continuous loop play. They are quick, easy and cheap to produce in-house, with no specialist skills or software required. They allow the viewer to see a suite of photographs without having to click through each individual picture. The limitation to this is that you only get a one-dimensional view and still photos don’t deliver full coverage of the property. It is also difficult for the viewer to get a sense of room scale, size and layout, without the ability to explore in more depth.
Floor Plan Tours
These are an expansion of photo tours, using an interactive ‘clickable’ floor plan that links to the associated room photographs, to help the viewer navigate around the property layout without having to guess which photo goes with what room. They help the viewer get a feel for the space by having the floor plan visible in relation to the room photography. What they lack is seamless navigation and do not give an immersive feel to the whole viewing experience.
These are motion videos filmed whilst moving room to room using a mobile phone camera, or alternatively full HD videos filmed and edited by professionals, including background music and annotation.
They can be quick, easy and cheap to produce if using a mobile phone camera and provide a good sense of space, scale and layout of a property. If professionally produced a polished video with music can set the tone and feel for a property, engaging with the viewer and capturing their attention.
The downside is the viewer has lack of viewing control and can only see where the camera takes them. This can be frustrating if parts of the property haven’t been captured fully. If produced on a smart phone by the Agent or Vendor, they can look unprofessional, with an unsteady hand, poor lighting and background noise, this can be off-putting for the viewer.
These are usually a series of images taken from a single vantage point placed in the centre of a room, creating an unbroken view of a space. They allow the viewer to spin around a room in all directions covering 360° of the space where the viewer can pan left, right, up and down in a smooth motion. They often produce good quality imagery, capturing much of the property interior.
However, these types of tours do not provide the ability to freely walk around the room and see alternative perspectives and viewpoints. As the vantage point if often fixed in one position per room, there is a lack of immersiveness to these tours and to get from one room to the next the viewer has to literally jump through walls, which removes the sense of seamlessness.
3D Virtual Tours
Using a specialist 3D camera placed at various points across a property, each room is scanned creating a series of images that are then stitched together to create a digital twin of a space. The finished content becomes a 360° interactive and navigable space for the viewer. CoreLogic HomeVisit 3D Virtual Tour example here
These types of tours are fully immersive and more lifelike, putting the viewer in the driving seat where they can explore the property at their own pace in the order they choose. The output is high quality and seamless to navigate, enabling the viewer to move around the property as if they were there in person. These types of tours do require specialist equipment, operated by trained professionals, but offer a very detailed picture and often come with a whole host of additional outputs, such as dollhouse and floor plan views, digital measuring tools and digital tagging features.
If you are considering using virtual tours for marketing your clients’ properties, be sure to do your research as the differences in services available can be surprising. If you’d like to know more about CoreLogic’s HomeVisit 3D Virtual Tours, please get in touch salesUK@corelogic.com or visit us here.