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According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, over 51% of Americans now pick out their homes online.

Because of this, having a digital presence is essential in the modern real estate industry. Any Realtor who takes their job seriously will have a strong online platform, be it through social media, agent networking groups, or even their own website.

However, the very best agents will stay on the cutting edge of what it takes to keep a prospective buyer engaged and sell a house.

This is where virtual tours come in.

What are 360 home tours?

A 360 home tour is a digital presentation that tries to entice potential homebuyers into scheduling a viewing. When creating a 360 home tour, you use a new and exciting technology called 360 photography.

These photographs essentially create a digital open house. When a guest clicks on the picture, they have the ability to explore it and experience the photo however they want.

For example, instead of just having a photo of the living room that leads into the dining room, a 360 photograph shows how the two rooms are connected. In a way very similar to a panoramic photo, a 360 photo allows users to scroll inside of it and experience an image from different angles.

This way, potential homebuyers can really get a sense of the floor plan of a home before they even arrive. The goal is to virtually drop them into your home. You want them to feel like they are standing in the middle of your kitchen or family room, turning in small circles, taking it everything around them at a pace that feels right to them.

Are 360 home tours different from virtual staging or regular photography?

When well done, 360 home tours are very different than just virtual staging and regular photography. However, the problem is that they are often not. You cannot take grainy photos and put them into a continuously looping slideshow and consider that to be a virtual tour. You actually need to put a little bit of effort into the craft!

Because of this, you will typically need to hire a 360 photographer, or be working with a real estate agent that has put a significant amount of effort into understanding the process.

This is because a 360 tour can essentially be an online open house. You want guests to be able to progress through the home and photographs at their own pace. This way, they can have a look at all the features and decide if they would like to see it in person.

However, this is something important to keep in mind: when creating an online presence for your home, your main goal is to sell the property.

You need to create an experience that highlights your home’s awesome features and is easy to use for those who are home buying. You do not need to invest more money and time into an experience than you need to.

Partner with your Realtor before committing to a company or software that creates the most technologically advanced virtual tour on the market. You just want to make sure that your listing is competitive for your market.

How much do 360 home tours cost?

The price can vary greatly for a 360 tour. This is because companies base the price for their services on the size and floor plan of your home.

Smaller houses with closed off plans might cost the same as larger houses with open plans, simply because they require the same amount of photos. If you want to do a 360 tour, be sure to reach out to multiple local companies for quotes before you commit to working with one.

What are the benefits of a 360 home tour?

The benefits of a 360 home tour would essentially be more return on investment for less work. This is because you set up an online real estate listing with all of these great photos and do the initial work to get the listing out there. Then, if marketed properly, hundreds of eyes will see the listing without you or your agent needing to lift another finger.

These potential buyers can get to know the house and decide if they would like to schedule a viewing based solely on the real estate photography. This way, when you do have people inquire or come around to see the house, you know they are a little bit more serious about it. This can lead to a faster, more competitive sale.

What are the drawbacks of a 360 home tour?

Of course, the outcome of a 360 home tour can also swing in the complete opposite direction. If you did not market the tour effectively, then it will not show up in any search engines or on social media sites. Because of this, all of the time, money, and effort invested into the project could be for nothing. That is, if no one actually sees the listing in the first place. This is why you need to have a good management system in place.

Potential buyers could also very passively look at the photos with no intention of ever contacting you (but hey, it is a numbers game, the more the better!), they could become frustrated with the technology and pass on the house because they can’t figure out to view the photos, or they could feel like it is too impersonal to simply view a real estate listing online.

However, the good thing is that all of these problems are easily managed with a little common sense. Make sure your tour is high quality with clear usage instructions and that your Realtor’s contact information is also easily accessible.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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