What Is a Virtual Tour?
A virtual tour is a type of photography that allows people to ‘walk through’ a location remotely. Unlike a video tour or photos, it is possible to look up, down, and all around at anything of interest. This makes virtual tours very useful for gaining perspective of a property’s size and layout.
At Anikio, we create virtual tours especially for rental properties. Prospective tenants considering a property can then do an initial viewing of the rental online to help determine if it will suit their needs. We also create affordable tours for real estate agents.
Update: Help Reduce Spread of Corona Virus
It is always our expectation and recommendation that prospective tenants and landlords meet in person and view the property before making any form of deposit, payment, or agreement. Virtual tours provide a means to reduce the number of viewings and allow for some pre-screening on both sides of the fence: Landlords can insist that potential tenants have completed a virtual tour first; Tenants can decide a place isn’t a good fit without ever contacting the landlord. This saves time and money.
The global outbreak of Corona Virus gives a new and ultimately more critical reason to cut down on unnecessary viewings: health. Restricting viewings to serious inquiries and as the final step in a rental application can help reduce the number of social interactions for landlords, property managers, and tenants alike. In cases where the rental suite is still occupied, it also reduces potential contamination of the current tenants’ home and belongings and reduces the need for disinfection.
While we generally recommend waiting until a property is vacant to shoot virtual tours, during this crisis we are also recommending this for currently occupied suites – with the consent of the current tenant (and their help ensuring everything is as tidy and put away as possible prior to the shoot).
Why Use a Virtual Tour?
As we’ve covered above, the reduction of social contact by making viewings available online is a socially responsible way for property managers and landlords to help slow the spread of the corona virus.
Besides the health reasons, virtual tours save time and money for all parties. Less driving across the city, less time wasted. They also give a better understanding that what-you-see-is-what-you-get. 360 views mean that camera angles, chosen to showcase the best features, don’t obscure anything. This gives a better sense of security and surety. Better still, a virtual tour can be completely any time, day or night, without waiting for a response from a busy property manager or aligning schedules.
We’ve had a lot of success combining a FaceTime or Skype video call with a virtual tour for out-of-town professionals looking to secure housing. Having the right tools available for your customers (tenants) can help close the deal. It’s even great for students to show back-home family and get their okay before signing a lease.
Finally, consider that at any given time there may be around 1000 long-term rentals or more available in Saskatoon. When tenants are making their short list, standing out is important in securing a great tenant. Virtual tours dramatically increase the mind share your property will have among those others simply because they have spent more time walking through the unit online, more time considering your suite, and more time picturing how their life would fit into your offering than competing rentals without a virtual tour.
Remember: Virtual tours can be used again and again to market your rental on Anikio, so long as the property is substantially unchanged.
Who Should Get A Virtual Tour?
Virtual tours work best for busy property managers or landlords that can’t always arrange viewings on a prospective tenant’s schedule or need to find more hours in the day. They’re great for people with one or more properties far away from their office or home (making commute times longer). But they also help with reducing lookey-loos that immediately jump from “Is this available?” to “Can I book a viewing?” without even glancing at your listing. Landlords with basement suites in their home also like having less strangers coming to the door.
How Long Does It Take to Make a Virtual Tour?
It depends on the size and layout of the property. A property with multiple levels and hallways simply requires more photos and work than an open concept apartment. But generally, if the property is correctly prepared, we can shoot a virtual tour in 30 mins to one hour. After that, the photos need to be edited and combined, and the tour created, but this is done from our office afterwards. Typically, a virtual tour is available within 24 hours of filming.
Are Virtual Tours Worth It?
A smaller virtual tour (typical of a basement suite or apartment with < 1000 sqft) costs $140; a larger virtual tour with a second level or higher square footage costs only $50 more. When combined with our professional photography, you not only receive two months of free listing on Anikio ($40 value) but also receive $30 off the bundled cost.
Let’s say you have a property that is about a 15 minute drive from your home or office. To do a showing, you drive to your unit and arrive 10 minutes early to make sure everything’s in order. The tenant arrives right on time, you have a 20 minute chat and showing, and then leaves. You lock the place up again, shut off lights, close blinds, etc (5 minutes) and drive back home or to the office (15 minutes). You don’t hear from that particular tenant again (but at least they showed up!); it turns out that the place doesn’t really fit their furniture. You’re now out 65 minutes that you would have saved if the tenant did a virtual tour and never contacted you in the first place. Plus gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
It doesn’t take too many unnecessary showings for the virtual tour to pay for itself. And after you’ve found a tenant and then they move out in a year or two, you can use this virtual tour again, saving even more time and money.
Here’s one other consideration: What if the virtual tour helped put you as a front runner for a great tenant. Maybe it saves you one month of vacancy (how much is that worth?) Maybe the tenant stays for several years and saves you multiple turnovers. What is that worth?
In the end, yes, we believe virtual tours are worth it and pay for themselves. But of course, you should weigh your own circumstances and the value of your time in making the decision for yourself.
Top 5 Reasons to Add a Virtual Tour:
- Save time/money: for you, current tenants, and prospective tenants;
- 24/7 Viewings with No Notice
- Show to out-of-town tenants (and their family) easily
- Often cited as a listing’s best feature in tenant surveys
- Tenants spend more time considering your place as they tour
Like photos, a Virtual Tour is an investment in your investment, and can be used again and again as long as the property hasn’t changed much. Photos bring tenants into the listing, and the virtual tour keeps them there, thinking about layout, furniture, and how their lives can fit into your home.