A picture can be worth a thousand words, but is it enough to make a prospective renter or buyer take action? Not likely. One thing today’s multifamily owners and managers have done to combat this is bring their pictures to life using 3D virtual real estate tours or 3D real estate photography. And that can certainly help when compared to flat 2D photos, but is it the best option out there to showcase apartments or a community?

To really reach and engage with prospective residents, innovative multifamily owners and managers are setting aside the 3D camera and looking to live video tours to bring a level of realness and transparency to the online apartment shopping experience.

3D virtual tours may seem innovative, but they are just a newer version of the old world of virtual tours. Today’s prospective residents want to see the real thing, not a fabricated experience (or what feels fabricated). They want to experience the flow and scale of a unit, they want to feel the atmosphere and be able to imagine themselves in a space, which can only be done with live video.

Here are a few ways that 3D real estate tours miss the mark when compared to live video:

Showing the Full “Picture”

When driving through a fast-food drive through, they often showcase photos of the menu items. And man, those cheeseburgers sure looks amazing, huh? But then the actual food is in hand and it’s not nearly as appealing – the bun is flatter, the burger less juicy looking. While those photos are 2D, it’s still the same concept as 3d real estate photography. It is still just a representation. It’s showing the food in it’s best possible light – rather than it’s realness.

With 3D virtual tours in real estate, it’s a representation of the property – not the real deal. The 3D walkthrough isn’t setting real expectations, it’s setting unrealistic ones. That sets the property up for failure right off the bat. Instead, using a live video tour allows prospective residents to see what the property truly is and decide for themselves if it works for their needs. That type A resident that wants to see inside every cabinet and closet will be left highly unsatisfied with the 3D tour that only skims the surface of what the storage options are in an apartment. Connect with that prospective resident via live video tour though and you instantly have the ability to open every single cabinet and closet and show that prospect exactly what they want / need to see.

Allowing for Personalized Tours

3D real estate photography and 3D virtual tours mean every person gets the same tour. They see the same things and have the same experience. And yes, that 3D walkthrough is giving them something more than 2D but it’s not individualized, nor really a real ‘tour’ of the space. Today’s market wants a personalized experience. They want to feel like the tour is meeting their needs specifically – not the generic needs of everybody.

A live video tour allows each prospective resident to see what’s really important to them and ask any questions they may have in the moment. Is there enough natural light in the morning? Will the noise during rush hour be too much? A 3D real estate walkthrough isn’t going to be able to answer those questions – and they can be pretty mission critical ones when it comes to a living situation. Plus, a live video tour allows the property manager to address potential concerns before they even ARE concerns. Is there an odd room layout? A leasing agent can acknowledge that and provide suggestions on how to work with it. A 3D virtual tour just shows…an odd room, not the potential.

Building Trust

While less tangible, a live video tour starts to build necessary trust between the leasing team and prospective residents before they even set foot in the door. Live tours put the person in the center of the experience, much more than a 3D virtual tour. And that means both the leasing agent and the resident. The potential resident gets a chance to interact and see if their personality vibes with the personality of the staff and the property itself – something a 3D virtual tour of any real estate property just can’t provide.

With a live video tour, the focus shifts from having more people view the property to being able to set clear expectations for the property, then meeting or exceeding them. There is no way even the most expensive 3D real estate camera can replace a human to human interaction. And speaking of the camera…the cost of 3D real estate virtual tours versus live tours? Let’s just say, you’ll be very happy with the savings when switching to live video tours.

While 3D virtual tour software for real estate is impressive and does have its place with real estate and multifamily marketing, it just can’t replace the realness and transparency provided by a live video tour for the leasing process. If the goal is getting the right residents into the community (spoiler: it should be), then put the 3D camera down, pick up a mobile device, and start filming.

Until next time…keep it real!