Buying a home is no small decision, and today’s homebuyers are more informed and conscious as consumers than ever before.
In this increasingly competitive landscape of listings and properties, virtual tours are fast becoming a powerful and elegant way to elevate your property listing and separate yourself from the competitors.
What Are The Benefits of Virtual Tours?
Virtual tours and panoramic photographs give the homebuyer something unique: a feel for the place. You’re dropping them into the home and allowing them to see every nook and cranny.
You’re letting them envision themselves in it.
That’s something that still photographs and a bullet list of details just can’t compete with.
Additionally, many virtual tours allow the homebuyer to engage and interact with the picture; they can click around, zoom in and out, and explore details up close. And for making a decision as big as buying a house, that level of transparency matters.
- Fast and easy to make
- Saves you from showing properties to low-intent customers in person, so you have more time to go after high-intent buyers
- No time-limit for the client; they can explore the property as long as they want
- Ready to step up your real estate marketing? Here’s a primer on how to shoot your own 360° panoramic pictures for your virtual tour. (Be sure to check out our tips on how to photograph your property too!)
The 360° Panoramic Photo
Panoramic photos are simply a series of overlapping shots that are “stitched together” to produce one long, continuous shot. Most virtual tours today are comprised of 360° panoramic photos.
Cameras: Panoramic or DSLR?
While there are special cameras designed for taking epic panoramic photos, we recommend shooting with a DSLR and creating the panorama with a photo-stitching software. Panoramic cameras can run as high as $10k; unless you’re planning to shoot the Aurora Borealis, a DSLR (or even a nicer point-and-shoot) will do just fine.
Taking 360° Panoramic Photos with a DSLR Camera
- Choose your space
Choose a corner of the room that allows for the best view of the space. You’ll set the camera up here and take photos of everything from this one location.
- Keep your camera steady
Use a tripod to help keep your camera steady throughout the shots. Since you’re ultimately creating one long, continuous image, it’s crucial to keep your shot set-up as consistent as possible.
- Set up the shot
Level your camera (usually found in the Menu section or as its own separate button) to ensure your photos are all straight. Shoot on full manual mode (including manual exposure, focus and white balance). We recommend shooting your photos vertically (you can crop and edit the top and bottom of the image later).
Take 8-10 photos of the space from left to right (or right to left) until you’ve covered the entire room.
- Stitch everything together
Stitch your photos together with one of the many panorama photo stitching software programs listed below.
Budget-friendly DSLR Cameras:
Best Photo-Stitching Software:
- Hugin (Free)
- Microsoft Image Composite Editor (Free)
- Autopano Pro (Paid)
- PTGui 10 (Paid)
- Autostitch (Paid)
- Panoweaver 9 (Paid)
Most Budget-Friendly Option:
Thanks to ever-evolving technology, almost every camera and smartphone today have a built-in panoramic mode. (The iPhone camera, for example, has a “PANO” option.)
When you use this mode, your camera will automatically prompt you with instructions on how to take the photo, then stitch everything together into a single image. It’s the easiest way to get everything done at once.