October 11, 2011

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Technology Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 2 – Video and Virtual Tours


The NAR Conference in San Diego wrapped up yesterday and after a few days of wandering around the expo hall, it is clear that there are a number of technology trends that are emerging.

In Part 1 of Tech Trends from the NAR Conference, we wrote about how more and more web provides are offering realtors with a mobile presence. In this article, we look at video and virtual tours. In the next article (Part 3), we will look at the ridiculously cheap websites being offered to realtors in the US.

Let’s look at virtual and video tours.

Virtual tours seem to have been around forever and a day. Each year at the NAR Conference a new group of businesses emerge offering the latest and greatest in virtual tour technology yet, for some reason, they all appear the same.

When quizzed about what makes them different for the dozen other providers, they all seem to have the same answer – high quality, cheaper price and easier to use. Now I have to admit that the technology is getting better. One provider showed me a downloadable application that sat on my desktop and seamlessly stitched together images that I uploaded – it even balanced the lighting. Virtual tour can now have voice and music overlays making them almost video quality.

These virtual tour providers are also distributing these tours to a number of different websites and are either placing the virtual tour as a listing on sites such as trulia.com and zillow.com, or they are attaching the tours to existing listings.

The one thing about the virtual tour providers that was quite amazing is the extremely low price they are charging – e.g. $29.95 for a YEAR and all the virtual tours you can create. Sure the process is automated and yes they are targeting individual realtors but there cannot be much of a margin in that type of product.

On the other front there are the video tour providers. Once again there seemed to be a dozen or so of these providers at the NAR Conference. The theme is the same as a virtual tour except it seems to cost a little more and requires a little more sophistication to set up and deliver. The prices are still very cheap and the quality seems to be good.

The real question is that having spent money and more importantly time on virtual and video tours, does the realtor actually gain any additional value or is it just a vanity project? My view is that there is a small marginal gain for the agent in attaching video or virtual tours to a listing. The most important thing is to have as many high quality, still images as possible attached to the listing. This will always be the first point of reference for a consumer when looking at a listing. The virtual tour and video tour may enhance the listing but is probably not worth it.

If a realtor does want to add these to a listing, then make sure you go with a quality provider as slow or interrupted presentation of a video or virtual tour will reflect badly on the realtor.

Our next article will look at the ridiculously cheap websites offered to realtors and brokers in the US.


Related posts:

  1. Technology Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 3 – Low Cost Agent Sites
  2. Technology Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 1 – Mobile Internet
  3. Tech Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 4 – Local Information
  4. Tech Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 6 – SMS and Email Yard Signs
  5. Tech Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 5 – Distribution to Multiple Portals
  6. Tech Trends from the NAR Conference: Part 7 – Social Networking
  7. 3D Tours to Take Over?
  8. realeflix.com Promotes Video Tours
  9. Virtual Tour Provider Review: PlanOmatic
  10. AudioAgent Offers Online Tours



  1. [...] previous installments we looked at the rise of mobile access, low cost agent sites, video and virtual tours, the importance of local information, distribution to multiple portals, and most recently, the use [...]

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