If you want a foothold in the real estate market, you need a slick, professionally produced virtual tour. A virtual tour lets you post a link for interested renters. It also gives you something to send your investors and lets you view your property from the renter’s point of view. They off a contactless experience and let long-distance clients see properties before they move to your city.
Thanks to simplified technology and access to editing software, any agent or manager can put together a virtual tour that gets visitors excited about your property. You don’t have to spend thousands on a professional company to come and do the shoot for you. With a little planning, a 360-degree camera, and basic staging, you can shoot a beautiful virtual tour.
Here’s how to get started.
Find your camera
If you’re a regular photographer, you can go for a fancier model that lets you manage your aperture, focus, or shutter speed. At the time of publication, some advanced 360 cameras came out specifically to appeal to the photography pros. These can cost as much as $800, so don’t invest in one unless you really know your stuff.
A lot of virtual tour creators focus on basic, easy-to-use low-end cameras thanks to their ease of use and friendly interface. Don’t worry about paying less for one of these unique pieces of equipment. Most of the cheaper options work well and let you edit in a few minutes. Plus, if one breaks on-site, you won’t go broke replacing it.
Once you have your camera, do a practice tour around your own house. Pay attention to how different times of day shoot in your new camera, download the adjoining application on your smartphone, and spend some time with it. These cameras take photos with a bit of a warp and need some gentle editing to help them look crisp, so get familiar with the technology.
Shooting and stitching
Set up your camera on the tripod and open your app, then shoot with all the light you can get. Open drapes, turn on any available light, (even the one over the cooking range), and add any illumination necessary to eliminate shadows. Keep the rooms minimal and clean and move any tissue boxes, trash bins, or odds and ends out of the space while you take your pictures.
Set up your camera on a stable tripod. Add a ball head attachment so you can easily angle your camera. Download your camera’s app on your smartphone and open the settings.
In the settings menu, take your ISO number down to the lowest number available, (200 on the Ricoh camera), never automatic or high. The low ISO gives your photos a crisp, clear finish. Then set your image size or resolution to the highest number. Check to see if you can add an HDR option. If so, turn your HDR on for better detail in your tour.
Shoot each room according to your camera’s instructions, then send the photos to your editing program. All the cameras on the market come with their own editing software. You don’t need to buy anything, and some automatically stitch photos together for you.
All the different cameras have their own options for editing. Use the easiest option to start and avoid shooting in raw or manual mode. If you shot raw, or with no stitching automation, you’ll need Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to get your work edited and stitched together and then export your images as a JPEG.
Host and share
Your tour functions as your automated showing. To do that, it needs a host site. Websites come and go, but these three prove to be favorites among virtual tour creators.
Kuula. co, a web favorite for virtual tour pros, offers a free and paid membership depending on how many tours you want to post per month. The site gives you a slick, professional interface and helps you share or embed links to your work on any other site or social media. Upload your pictures to the site, then connect them with hot spots, or little red dots to help viewers move through the rooms, and add your contact info. Kuula tours look great on phones and adapt well to Virtual Reality headsets.
Facebook 360 lets you upload and share your tours directly on their site. The editing suite offered on the platform also lets you add spatial audio. You can get some direct support from the Facebook 360 group in case you run into problems.
One thing to keep in mind is that FB 360 only makes one point high definition for the viewers; they don’t get a preview of an upcoming kitchen or bedroom. This helps Facebook keep its offering free to host and easy to share. Choose high-quality photos to make sure the preview thumbnail looks great at a glance.
Finally, you can try Roundme.com, an incredibly popular site with free and paid options. This site offers some stock photos on top of space to post your own work, so you can create introductory and final images beyond your own pictures. Roundme has a free account option that lets you upload up to 15 projects a week and gives you an embed link, so this no-cost choice is one of the best available.
Your virtual tour checklist
All you need to do after that is share, share, share! A good tour does the work for you and helps you keep up with the ever-growing demand in the Calgary real estate market.
Here’s a quick list to help you check off all your to-dos for your first tour:
- Budget for a good camera and tripod, then purchase each
- Schedule a shoot time at the property when it has the most natural light possible
- Stage the house with minimal furniture and remove extras like clocks or trash bins
- Download the camera’s app, and put the ISO on the lowest number and resolution/size at the highest
- Shoot each room with as much light as possible. This may require two shots at different times of day to get the most sunlight
- Transfer photos to camera’s editing suite/Adobe software to correct them and export as a JPEGs
- Choose a hosting site like Kuula, Roundme, or Facebook 360 to upload and connect the tour
- Share on a personal website, my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else people know to find me online