Walk-Through Video or Virtual Tour?

Which is better for selling Real Estate? A walk-through video or a virtual tour? Before you go spending on Virtual Tour software, discover which is best for your vendors and why.

By Ian Nicholson - Property Cinematographer at Real Estate Movies

What's the Difference?

A Real Estate Walk-Through video is just that - a cameraman takes the camera on a continuous, unbroken tour of the property. 

A Virtual Tour uses specialised software (and sometimes a special camera) to take still, panoramic images of the property. Special software allows the viewer to see a virtual '3D' view of the inside of the property, and they can control how they navigate around.

Which is best, and why?

Real Estate Walk-Through Video - Pros and Cons

A well-planned Walk-Through video can put the property in its best possible light by focusing on areas of key interest and avoiding any undesirable areas from being included. For example, a recent video was shot where were asked to avoid including a cluttered shoe-rack in the hall. No problem. Avoiding areas may be seen as a 'con', but more on this later. The Walk-Through video takes you on a fixed route through the property as one continuous shot, just as a prospective buyer would do. With a video, you can add music to heighten the emotion within the viewer, or add an intro to the property by the sales agent. Remember - buyers buy homes based on emotion!

Many property videos will break and take highlights of key features in the property. This might seem like a good idea, but kind of pointless when doing close-ups of flowers or fruit bowls, and jumps shots to different areas of the property give the viewer no real idea of the internal layout or juxtaposition of the rooms. Videos can include shots of local amenities such as parks, schools and shops, and even aerial shots from a drone.

A video uploaded to YouTube is immediately exposed to Google and thus easier to find. Videos are also much easier to share and view on social media.

Real Estate Virtual Tours - Pros and Cons

Virtual Touring software can work in different ways depending on which software you use. One of the more expensive solutions does actually create a full interior image of the property, and allows a viewer to virtually move around inside the 3D model, but at a cost, requiring a special camera to achieve the result. Some of these solutions require special training or a qualified operator to achieve the result.

A majority of solutions work on static images taken (usually from the centre of the room) and allow you to rotate the image around the point of view. Since a fish-eye lens is used to achieve the image, it suffers from a lot of distortion, which detracts from the experience. Also, it uses static images which are, well, static.

Virtual tours take longer to set up and capture at the property - usually 1-2 hours for an average house, and can only be viewed via software installed on your website, which means they're not SEO friendly and Google will have a hard time finding them.

True, a Virtual Tour viewed on a 3D headset can be mind-blowingly immersive, but 3D headsets are not yet mainstream, and a 2D representation on a phone or PC still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of user experience.

The Power of the Brain

The human brain is the best tool in the known universe for mapping 3D space. That's why you can pick up a cup of coffee and guide it to your lips, or even walk around your house at night - in pitch darkness - without thinking.

A Walk-Through Video works in the same way. By presenting the space in one, continuous shot, the brain is much better at mapping the 3D space than still shots could ever achieve. In fact, the brain does an amazing job at getting the spatial information it needs - even from a video - as long as it is delivered in one continuous shot.

With Virtual Touring software, the unnatural jumping of viewpoints is confusing to the viewer, and frustrating when they cannot enter a room or view an area not mapped by the software. Not all tools are intuitive to use, and often the user has to click on spots around the image to jump to the next viewing point. This leaves many users confused and often has the opposite effect in presenting the layout of the property in a human-relatable, spatial image.

In Summary

A Walk-Through video can be delivered in a way that heightens emotion within the viewer, and provides a far more natural way for the viewer to see and visualise the layout of the property. Videos can be easily found via Google (when posted on YouTube) and can be shared via social media.

What Do You Think?

Did we get this right? Are we way off the mark? Tell us below!

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