As with most technology, apartment virtual tour software has seen a major evolution in multifamily over the years. Those who have been working in the multifamily real estate industry for a while may remember when that sort of virtual tour technology was a novelty. Now, it’s become a normal tool most properties are leveraging.

While the novel quality has worn off, the need and impact of virtual tour technology continue to grow and evolve. The industry has seen virtual property tours evolve from photoshopped images to fully functional, lead-to-lease powerhouses.

Let’s take a look at how the technology, use, and purpose of apartment virtual tour software has changed for the multifamily real estate industry.

Two-dimensional Images

In the beginning, there was darkness. Okay, okay… maybe we can skip ahead just a bit. Let’s start in the early 2000s. During that time, virtual tours were really in their infancy. They provided the bare minimum to get prospects interested in looking at the space. For most properties, an apartment community virtual tour was truly a series of stitched-together photos. That video was often accompanied by music that would make elevator music sound like a true hit.

Those real estate virtual tours did serve their intended purpose back then. However, these “tours” weren’t designed to sell the property. The very idea of a prospect entering and going through the lead-to-lease funnel virtually wasn’t even on the radar. These tours were intended to simply garner enough interest for an in-person visit and tour. As time moved on, and technology in other industries progressed, prospects wanted to see more of the property than still photos could offer. So, virtual tour software started to grow and change alongside that demand.

Three-Dimensional and Virtual Reality

The next iteration of apartment virtual tour software were 360 and 3D virtual tours, as well as other types of virtual reality options. Tours like this could live on a property website or listing page and, while they didn’t give exact detail or an authentic look and feel of the property, they did provide more than a 2D video. The desire to provide this service to prospective residents had many multifamily teams quickly Googling “virtual tours companies near me.”

These methods of providing virtual tours, however, were definitely costly or resource-prohibitive for some properties. The real estate virtual tour services used to create them were expensive, as was buying the equipment needed to create them in-house. A camera needed to create a Matterport tour isn’t free. Plus, teams would have to learn how to use all of it.

While searching how to create a virtual tour for free, you will likely find some interesting results. But, in the end, these types of tours generally serve one purpose – marketing. These evergreen videos were, and still are, a great tool for top-of-funnel marketing. However, consumer preferences changed yet again and this time, they wanted the real deal.

To Authenticity and Reality

Today’s prospective residents want authenticity and realness in their apartment virtual tour software. When we look at how virtual tour software has and continues to evolve today, it’s moving in the direction of authenticity, transparency, personalization, realism and generally being able to show prospects exactly what they need and want to see at the property.

Virtual tour software today, while still being used for marketing, has advanced to become a part of the leasing process and the foundation of the virtual leasing process. Instead of JUST marketing, apartment virtual tour software can be used to streamline and enhance the leasing process. Prospects can choose when and how they tour a property. Options have expanded to personalized, curated lists of pre-recorded video tours, live virtual tours, or even using video to accompany in-person tours.

Virtual leasing and virtual tour software has empowered leasing teams to get more leases signed faster. Apartment virtual tour software has created a much more streamlined and efficient environment for both the leasing teams and the prospects. A win-win all around.

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