Evolution of the Virtual Tour in Real Estate

In the early 90’s, home buyers started heading out in a new direction to look for homes. It was this thing called the internet. It provided information, or at least held that promise, convenience and most important of all – it provided anonymity! The only problem was, in the early 90’s their just wasn’t a lot of information out there when it came to real estate and homes for sale.

Realtors started to catch on and along came the concept of “Virtual Tours”. Realtors wanted to provide potential home buyers, at least those using the internet, a way of touring the home from the comfort of their computer. They provided little in the way of information, since that is what Realtors hold dear and don’t want to give up easily.

Virtual tours started to pop up around the internet. In this first incarnation a virtual tour referred to basically a page on the internet that had a picture of the front of the home and perhaps some interior photos. This evolved later into a page of photos along with some music. There was more of a wow-factor for the seller to see their home showcased this way, but provided little for the buyer.

Then came “stitching” software. This allowed Realtors to take several photos (of the exterior for example) and “stitch” them together into a 180-degree panorama. These wide panoramas could then be put on the internet either as a still photo or, thanks to JavaScript, animated to move from side to side. Realtors were getting closer to the “Virtual Tour” concept.

After a little while, the idea of “stitching” photos progressed to the next logical step. Panoramas started showing up that were 360-degrees. This gave buyers a much more realistic impression of a home and it’s surroundings.

A company called iPIX truly revolutionized this concept though with it’s creation of true 360 by 360 stitching. This meant that you could have a virtual tour that went 360-degrees horizontally AND vertically. Buyers could now see those grand two-story foyers, staircases, the tops of trees and more! This was the true virtual tour, or was it?

Realtors may have finally delivered on their promise of Virtual Tours. In the last couple of years we have seen entire websites devoted to showcasing a listing of a home for sale. This gives potential home buyers the most amount of information possible. It meets all the requirements that they were looking for years ago when they first started flocking online. It provides information, more than they could possibly hope for, convenience and most important of all – it provides anonymity! The best home websites include an unlimited amount of photos, links to maps, local schools, mortgage information, property documents such as disclosures and surveys, the ability to schedule a viewing and even print of a brochure!

So, if you’re a home buyer, be on the lookout for these websites – they will truly give you a “Virtual Tour”. And if you’re considering selling your home, don’t just ask your Realtor if they provide virtual tours – ask them what kind of virtual tours! Virtual Tours have really come a long way. What’s next? Well, wait and see!

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