Why virtual tour is a must have for rental agents?
Ever thought you wasted too much time on unnecessary viewings and there’s a better way to gauge interest of your viewer? All these can be achieve while you save along petrol, parking and miscellaneous fee while getting a more potential interests from buyer with something as simple as a virtual tour? A virtual tour is an online tour that allows a user to experience and help user see the house as if they are there in person, that’s why its call virtual reality. Imaging being able to see the house and get a better feel of it all from a mobile phone even from thousands of miles away.
Virtual tour can be use to showcase properties that your expat or foreigner customers enquire about. With just a Whatsapp away, virtual tour can easily be shared and view on mobile or desktop devices at the convenience of their own home.
Virtual tour besides impressing your expat viewer looking in from overseas can also value add by using it as evident for your tenant to keep a record of the condition of the house at the end of the rental lease in case dispute. It can also be use for tenanted properties especially when its hard to make time for everyone to meet at the same time .
Typical experience a user goes through while looking for properties online.
Virtual tour is not only about avoiding those traffics and narrowing in down potential viewings, a virtual tour has time and again proven to attract more views and gain more interests from buyer looking from properties online. Being a huge market place online and constantly overloaded with information when a buyer look for houses online. Typically this is what happens usually and buyer goes through. First, they are turned off by poor quality photos and lack of information about the listing of the house. Secondly, they also hate and dislike fake listings of houses that don’t exist or already sold but its still being advertised online. Now you know why a user can get really frustrated while looking for houses online.
A virtual tour solves this by giving valuable sufficient information about a house. Now home buyers can view from the comfort of their own home and avoid all those unnecessary hassle and this creates a win win for agents and buyer. On agent’s end, theres no better feeling than to receive a potential call from a buyer who already liked the house and is ready to commit or find out more.
With a simple 360camera and a super easy to use virtual tour creator like Panoleh, creating your own virtual tour is now never easier than before. After taking images of the house with a 360camera, real estate agents like yourself only need to upload the images to Panoleh and start creating their virtual tour. It is meant to be as simple as it sounds. A more detail guide can be found here.
How to Create a Virtual Tour in 5 minutes
Why Use Virtual Tours? Ever wish you can make your own virtual tour to impress your buyer but the cost and difficulty is holding you back? Many real estate agents understand and enjoy how virtual tour as a marketing tool is benefiting them but the steep learning curve and expensive cost to do yourself is turning them back. Alternatively they would engage a professional photographer to create virtual tour for them and real estate virtual tour services ranges from a $100 onwards and can go as high as $900. When did it get started - Invention of 360 Cameras. Previously with digital photography, the most common method for producing panoramas is to take a series of pictures and stitch them together. Ideally, in order to correctly stitch images together without parallax error, the camera must be rotated about the centre of its lens entrance pupil using specially design panoramic rotary tripod like the popular nodal ninja3. After taking the photos, Stitching software are use to correct parallax errors and different programs seem to vary in their ability to correct parallax errors. The most common and widely use are Ptgui and Hugin (free & open source). Ptgui is more user friendly and its software recognition system is also smarter in recognising photos when it comes to stitching. The only downside is that you have to pay additional software cost for using it. The whole process can be tedious and waste hours of time, that’s why it’s a better idea to pay a photographer to do it. As technology advances, Ricoh invented the world first portable 360 panoramic camera. These portable camera allows users to take panoramic photos in seconds by stitching photos up automatically with its sophisticated software. Soon more manufacturers and other marquee brands join in too with their own 360 Cameras. Making virtual tour is now a breeze with 360 Cameras compare to spending hours previously as mentioned. With technology help like this, anyone is capable of creating virtual tour in 5 minutes. What you need to get started To get started you would need 4 simple things, a 360 Camera, a tripod, mobile phone and PanoLeh (virtual tour builder software). 360 Camera We highly recommend Ricoh Theta S 360 Camera if you can’t make up your mind in the sea of cameras available in the market now. In terms of quality, price and mobility because of its easy to carry around and small form factor, Ricoh Theta S is the best at the moment from our experiences of using all other different cameras out there. The price of $628 is consider mid range but the quality produce by the camera for this price beats even some other more expensive cameras out there. Recently they finally release a cheaper version for normal consumer known as Theta SC. Quality of photos is equally impressive high with only slight difference in terms of video functions compare to the S version. Its cheaper price of around $480 convince us that this is going to be the next best camera in 2017 in terms of value. We are impress after trying it out for a couple of days. Click on the post for a more detail Ricoh Theta SC review. Tripod/Monopod You would need a tripod or a monopod to hold the camera while shooting for that professional look. A monopod is lightweight and thus more portable as it can be stow in a bag easily unlike a tripod. An affordable monopod starts around $40 at a slightly higher price but a cheap and simple tripod is also capable enough for the job. This is really down to personal preference and your needs. We highly recommend monopod from smatree for it’s quality and reasonable price. Phone A mobile phone is another essential item. Have you wonder why you don’t see photographer’s face or anybody in a virtual tour sometimes and how they manage to take that photo. Its because every 360 Camera can be connected to a phone via their own camera’s app. As long as your phone supports android/ios, any phone is suitable. The app can be found under the link for Ricoh Theta Ricoh Theta S - Android Apps or Ricoh Theta S on the App Store. Panoleh Last but not least after taking the beautiful panoramic photos, you would need PanoLeh to create your virtual tour in 5 minutes. Panoleh is a revolutionary platform to create simple virtual tour to present and impress your client. It is the most advance way to showcase property presentation to impress viewers regardless potential home buyer looking for a house or interior design ideas. No photography and I.T skills are needed to create this simple yet interactive virtual tour. With the help of its user friendly CMS platform, PanoLeh is the next generation most impressive presentation tool use to be use by many real estate professionals and interior designers to succeed and differentiate themselves in this highly competitive real estate market. How to do it After taking the beautiful panoramic 360 photos from your camera. If you still not sure, you can follow this guide here on how to take photos withyour camera. You can also follow our tutorial video for more illustrative video demo on creating the virtual tour. Sign up or login onto your PanoLeh account to create virtual tour. It’s a 3 simple steps and you can be a virtual tour expert too. Step 1 Name your virtual tour Select create PanoTour from the dashboard Next name your virtual tour. In this example, we name it 98 Oxford St. Autorotate function – you select yes if you would like to virtual tour to auto rotate when it plays. Remarks – Remark column is for you to keep personal information regarding the tour. End users would not be able to see it. Access control – You can choose to protect the virtual tour with a password. Step 2 Upload photos -Upload all the photos that you have took for this virtual tour Select the images you want to upload next. -Name the images so your user would identify which room it is. -Move the desire image to the top if you like to start the virtual tour with this photo(usually the living room or entrance). Step 3 Connect the photos -Drag the arrow into desire places in the photo and connect the room. - select the direction of the arrow and select which photo(scene) you would like this arrow direct to when user click on it. - Connect the rest of the room - Repeat for other scenes. - Click Publish Below is the sample of the finish virtual tour. Click on the link to view SAMPLE LINK There you have it. Virtual tour is done in 5 minutes all by yourself. No need for expensive photographer or difficult IT skills. After creating the beautiful virtual tour, its important to market it out to let your viewer or potential buyer see it. Follow how to embed and market your virtual tour guide to learn how to embed your virtual tour onto other property portal like propertyguru or personal website. The future of real estate marketing? With the help of virtual tour, real estate agents have consistently received more potential calls from buyers who like what they saw online. This allows the buyers to view at the comfort of their house away from the traffic and regardless it is rain or shine. Buyers can then do their homework and view only the shortlisted ones that they favour thus saving both parties time and convenience. The limitless advantages of this tool also allows real estate agents to market their properties to overseas buyer or investor. No longer the days where buyers only have pictures as reference for their potential investment, they can even immerse themselves into the environment by viewing with a Samsung gear VR or any virtual reality cardboard viewer. Technology has come a long way, with the wide adoption of virtual reality and affordable prices of a 360 Cameras now available to the masses, this is definitely the future of real estate presentation Sign up now to use for free
2nd February 2017Read More
How to Take a Good Panoramic Photo for Virtual Tour
1. LightingLight and illumination are the basics of photography. The very word “photography” comes from two Greek words, phos meaning light, and graphis meaning drawing. Hence, photography can be described as “drawing with light”.If you ask me to name the most important thing in photography, I would say light. Without light, there is no illumination. In a room without illumination, everything is pitch black. You can’t see a thing. Taking a shot – assuming your camera allows you to – produces a solid black photograph. You switch on a lamp, and you send light across the room, and everything is illuminated. Now you can take a photograph and show something in the picture. You realize that your eye and the camera both needs light and illumination to work.Photography is about capturing light and recording it, whether on paper, or more frequently now, in a digital format. As a photographer, you can control the amount, intensity and duration of light required to create the picture. One advantage of using a 360 Camera is the ease of use. There isn't so much to take note of when position for your shot unlike traditional camera's concern about capturing the right lighting. The concern is only when under dim condition is where quality will be affected generally. So what you need to know most importantly is only 2 simple things when taking photo with a 360 Camera. Firstly, switch on all the lights in the room and pulling up all the curtains to allow as much sunlight as possible. This will be sufficient enough to get good quality shots with a 360 Camera.2. BalanceProfessional photographers usually toggle with the balance of the camera to frame the idea shot, expressing the feeling they wish to portray out of a photo. Even for the leisure photographer, do you remember the last time when you were taking different shots of your food or photo of yourself just trying to find the best photo that portrays the desired feel? The benefit of using a 360 Camera is you only need to remember to keep your 360 Camera straight up. Because of the nature of the surrounded image that 360 Camera produce, balance is not a significance issue, thus another plus point of why 360 Camera is a must have. 3. Above waist level This is very simple and straightforward. Always make sure your camera is taken above waist level, ensuring your image will give your user an eye-level point of view. Avoid placing camera on the floor or anywhere lower than the waist will provide a more professional looking result.4. Right camera settingsWith numerous camera settings available, for a beginner this can be both confusing and daunting. Manual exposure, aperture priority, ISO, shutter speed may all sound demanding for a normal user. Another reason why we highly recommend the Ricoh Theta cameras is because of it’s ease of use. Its like the Apple of all 360 Cameras with its user friendly settings and control. Users new to 360 photography need to know only one thing, and that is setting your camera setting on the phone’s app to HDR mode. Ricoh did a great job in creating simple settings like HDR mode for beginners so now anyone can take great photos. HDR stands for high dynamic range, and it essentially takes a series of images, each shot with a different exposure from darkest to lightest. This is currently only available for the Theta cameras. So if you are using a Theta camera, remember to set it to HDR mode before shooting. Another common problem of using a 360 Camera is shooting in fluorescent lighting. The lighting and illumination will look distorted in images. The solution to tackling such problems is changing your shutter speed to 1/50, or shooting it with auto mode may work as well. 5. StagingHome staging is the act of preparing a home for sale in the real estate marketplace. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money. Staging techniques focus on improving a property's appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want. People usually use arts, painting, accessories, lights, greenery and carpet to stage the home, to give potential buyers a more attractive first impression of the property.After understanding the importance of staging, there is only 2 main point that user should take note of when taking photo for their virtual tour. 1. Always make sure the home is kept tidy and presentable. Giving potential buyer a homey feeling or a visualisation that this is their future home, is vital in deciding if this is going to be their future home. A good first impression always count nevertheless. 2. Engaging a professional stager. Empty homes leaves an empty feel to some buyer after viewing it. You can’t really blame them as there will always be viewers with poorer imagination, so do consider it a worthy investment as a professional stager can transform an empty home into a dramatic one that everyone dream of owning. Leaving a deep impression of that home is vital so eventually it will help you to sell off your home quicker. Notice the significance difference in an empty and staged home? There's a reason why 80% of the population are not artistes because they have bad visualization. So its your job to show them and help them visualize a home they will live in the future. On the day they sign the option to purchase, you be glad to find all this worth the investment. There are many home furnishing company that provide home staging services . Look it up in google and you will find one easily.6. User experienceLast but not least, user experience is also another important thing to take note of when creating virtual tour. You should always try to place your camera at the middle of the room so your viewers can navigate easily. Also try to keep to a recommended minimal amount of images or scene in a virtual tour . Ever heard of too much of anything is no good. Same logic applies here as too much images can be confusing sometimes and that will leaves a bad impression to your prospective buyer. We recommend an average of 7 to 10 scene per virtual tour . For larger landed homes, try to keep it under 20. ConclusionWith this 6 basic tips, you are ready to start taking your panoramic photos for your virtual tour. Follow the guide here for a more detail step by step on how to do it.
6th February 2017Read More
Ricoh Theta SC Review
Ricoh has recently release a new camera to their 360 camera lineup after a year of anticipation. It is deem as a more budget friendly model with adequate specs to give it’s older brother the S model a run for it’s money. The Ricoh Theta SC is designed to make 360 photography more accessible with a simpler interface and a lower price point. For still images, users won't see much differences between the Theta SC and the Theta S. Both cameras uses the same pair of 12 megapixel sensors measuring at 1/2.3" and both use dual f/2 lenses. Internal software stitches the data from both sensors together to create simple 360 images. Both also share similar 8 GB of storage will keep up to 1600 images internally without an SD card. You can also always change the memory card inside by yourself but it might void the warranty so that is not really recommended. 1. Design Ricoh Theta SC has a candy bar design very much similar to the theta S except slightly bulkier in dimension. Its got a softer, powder coated metal finish and its sleek design is very practical. The camera’s layout is simple , allowing you to use with just one hand or it can be operated remotely by connecting to your smartphone. Its small form factor allows you to easily slip it into your jeans or inside your bag . It also has a number of colours to choose from and Ricoh’s fans would certainly be delighted that their prayers are heard because previously only black colour is available on the theta S. A glowing LED to indicate that it’s recording, a Wi-Fi light to let you know if wireless communication is on or off, and an indicator that differentiates between photo mode and video mode 2. Image QualityThe Theta SC is believe to share the same camera lens and capabilities with the theta S. With 14 megapixels and capturing image size up to 5376x2688 pixels. We have make a comparison of the photos in the below example and our conclusion is that both images looks almost identical. Images taken by the 2 cameras are sharp with little saturation thus giving it a vibrant look with little detail lost. The camera is best work during daytime and the night photography is also pretty decent due to it’s f2.0 aperture. It is still best images in the 360camera category that you can get below $1000.Below is a comparison of photos taken with both different camera. Ricoh Theta SRicoh Theta SCVideo QualityThe Theta SC only shoots in 720p instead of 1080p. Stretch that resolution around into a 360 view and video quality will be rather low when uploaded onto youtube or facebook. That footage is also recorded at a very choppy 15 fps and clips are limited to five minutes instead of 25 on the theta S. You’ll be able to store several hours of footage on the included 8GB of storage, but the individual video limit still remains. There is also no HDMI port, thus live streaming function is not possible. Theta SC sample videoConclusion 360 photography and virtual tour is definitely going to be the future of real estate marketing as the VR popularity continues into a new era. The Theta SC currently retailing at $488 and it is consider really affordable for the image quality it gives. It provides the same image quality as the theta S and that is sufficient enough to recommend this as the go to camera to get if you decided to start marketing your properties with virtual tour. Even though its video function is relatively sub-par , but usually its not really practical if you aren’t doing a lot of live streaming and video recording. This is no doubt our favourite camera in terms of value & quality walking into 2017.
6th February 2017Read More