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NCI Makes Move to become Online Leader in Virtual Real Estate Content

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RISMEDIA, Sept. 17, 2007-Here’s a twist on the traditional “Open House.” Research proves that more and more consumers want to view a virtual tour before they visit a property or contact an agent. But the cost and delay involved in producing virtual tours has made many agents hesitant in using them. Ironically, however, real estate professionals spend much more time and money organizing Open Houses and advertising them to get potential buyers to view properties available on the market.All of that is changing now. In an effort to further pave the way for Realtors to easily and affordably distribute rich content online that enhances the consumer user experience, Network Communications Inc. (NCI), a publisher of print and online real estate information, announced the roll-out of InView Virtual Tours: a quick and easy way for advertisers to get rich media content online and for home shoppers to take a virtual tour of a property without ever leaving their home. Advertisers receive a camera kit that includes a digital camera and an accessory lens – which is everything that is needed to produce high-quality virtual tours in an instant.

Home shoppers are like most people who surf the Web: they want as much rich content as they can get. According to the company, with InView, agents can create high-quality virtual tours themselves, in a cost-efficient, time-saving way. They simply attach the provided lens to their camera, take a photo and – without having to stitch the pictures together or edit the images in any way – just upload the picture to an NCI Web site, which takes care of creating the virtual tour and automatically pulling the property information from its database of apartments and homes on the market. It’s that easy and quick. This latest addition to NCI brands, such as Apartment Finder and The Real Estate Book, keeps the company at the forefront of providing advertisers and consumers with the best home search experience, one they can’t get anywhere else.

“It’s a win-win for our advertisers and consumers alike,” says Glenn Goad, president of NCI Interactive. “Quite simply, InView will provide richer information on listings for consumers and better qualified leads for our advertisers. It’s an invaluable feature that exemplifies yet another forward thinking concept by NCI, one that delivers what consumers seek in the home search process, but doesn’t put a strain on our advertisers’ marketing budgets.”

NCI initially launched InView with the Apartment Finder brand – where 40% of Apartment Finder’s advertisers have produced more than 30,000 virtual tour images and is now making it available to more than 40,000 advertisers of The Real Estate Book. The Real Estate Book is the largest real estate magazine in North America serving over 500 markets, with over 20 million readers each month. Many of these readers go online to extend their search and seek out more information, such as virtual tours, when they find a property they are interested in.

Now, with NCI’s InView, these “search extenders” will not be disappointed as more and more agents will be able to quickly embrace this technology and deliver the content consumers crave. With stunning panoramic virtual tours and interactive floor plans, potential buyers are placed within the context of the community and the home so initial decisions can be made prior to an in-person visit. To view an InView virtual tour, visit www.apartmentsinview.com.

According to NCI, InView has endless multimedia applications for advertisers: from featuring virtual tours on their own Web site and promoting them in other media that they advertise in to delivering InView tours via e-mail to interested prospects and create CDs to package with their marketing collateral. To help get agents started, NCI is offering a starter camera kit (available for $350) that provides them with everything needed to capture a virtual tour. Included are a 6-megapixel camera, lens, 2 AA batteries, plus 2 AA rechargeable batteries with USB charger, and a metal storage/carrying box. Once an agent has the kit, they can shoot unlimited virtual tours as long as they remain a Gold or Platinum level advertiser with The Real Estate Book.

Goad adds that the addition of videos, virtual tours, photos, interactive floor plans, Web IDs, and maps via Microsoft Virtual Earth are just the beginning of where the company is going with rich Web content. He says, “We’ve got very ambitious, long-term plans, and remain focused on helping our advertisers stay ahead of the curve.”

For more information, visit www.nci.com.

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