top of page

Are Real Estate 'Virtual Tours' losing you money?

Film critics have been complaining loudly and clearly for longer than 50 years about the use of 'pan and scan' in movies presented on TV. This was quite right and a result of how films were recorded in a 16x9 (or other widescreen) aspect ratio for theatres and then re-released for a television medium that used a 4x3 aspect ratio. Home televisions in the past were small compared to the affordable options available today and by necessity, shots were re-edited to pan from the far left or right to the opposite side of the screen to attempt to show the audience the action on screen.

It is often a far cry from the original director's intention and worse, often it changes the nature of the story presented! Here is a sample for your reference.

(source: ©Turner Classic Movies)

Now, when real estate or property use 'virtual' slide show tours of homes, they are simply taking still images and panning across the image. This is not a video or virtual representation of the property and the living space. It is a still image, with no life.

84% of televisions in homes across North America are connected to the Internet.

Think about that for a moment. Could you imagine sitting in your living room, watching your 42" flat screen on the wall and looking for a property. You will be looking for listings with video and you run across a Realtor advertising a virtual tour. Likely you don't know what a 'virtual tour' is, but it certainly sounds promising. You hit the play button and quickly realize that you are watching dead images float across your television. What? Video is here and virtual will not suffice. Your audience is media savvy and won't accept second rate productions. Would you watch still images of your favorite tv series?

So, how does using a virtual tour compromise and effect selling real estate specifically?

When you are watching a live video, you are experiencing a number of collective stimuli: the camera movement, the movement through the physical space which creates 3 dimensional space (parallax effect), the movement of the items within the shot (leaves, curtains, etc), the change of color from the natural or interior lighting, the change of shadows giving real dimensionality to the location, the ambient sounds - all of these collectively stimulate your visual and audible senses, which in turn create emotions. Emotions sell.

Admittedly, still images do some of the same, but to a much, much lesser extent because all of the things just described cannot exist in a still image (even when panning across it).

Let me give you another example of why using video is superior to still 'virtual' tours. Live video offers solutions to difficult situations, which in turn become opportunities.

Here is an example of a country home with little curb appeal. You still have to show the exterior and entrance way, your potential buyer will expect it, so how to you present it?

This first example is a still image virtual pan

Here is the same home shot with a real video and transitioned into a second shot.

(video sources PalbergWERX Creative Direction)

The gained opportunity was to present the living, moving leaves in the beginning of the shot, the chance to hear the birds chirping, then the transition to the slow door opening and the light hitting the entrance way. This created a peaceful, romantic entrance that would be impossible for an audience to experience with a virtual still image pan. The next shot could highlight the spectacular post-and-beam great room interior, which would be in direct comparison to the modest exterior - therefore surprising the viewer and further engaging their imagination in the story of this property.

With the virtual tour, your audience is not engaged - it is no different for them than it would be to look at still images in a slide show. Don't fool yourself, still images have a much, much harder time invoking memories and emotions than video.

Nothing to date, engages people emotionally more than movies - and emotions sell.

Let me leave you with this - a stunningly beautiful home will photograph very well, but like a stunningly beautiful model in a magazine - there is a level of disbelief for anyone looking at the image.

Film, offers a sales advantages for both property types, whether too beautiful or less than appealing. A well crafted film will make either property type 'real'. It will allow your audience to relate and believe they exist in that space at that moment - emotionally capturing them in a way that no still or virtual image could ever do.

You can learn more about the psychology of why people prefer video from Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. — also known as The “Brain Lady.” As a leading speaker, author and consultant for brands like Amazon, Disney, Walmart and South By Southwest, she brings a deep understanding of the psychology of customers and why they do what they do. Watch her explanation video here.

So, are you losing potential sales because you're not using video in your real estate marketing?


If you would like a video for your product or service,

call PalbergWERX Creative Direction

at 604-356-1144 or email me at

I can help you craft a video that will represent your company's brand and values

as well as resonate and engage your customers - and that is the recipe for increased sales.

#realestate #marketing #video

bottom of page