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RISMEDIA, December 15, 2010—Virtual tour providers and virtual tours are all exactly the same, or are they? Does it matter if you use one that offers free virtual tours or one that charges a monthly subscription? Does it matter if the virtual tour company is brand new or may claim to have 100,000 users? Does it matter who owns it or what the company philosophy is? It does depend on “why” you want a virtual tour in the first place.

We are all being overwhelmed with choice these days, and real estate technology is no exception. So, how do we choose which virtual tour provider to use? Which virtual tour company or virtual tour service is naughty and which is nice? Let’s take a closer look.

Most real estate agents want a virtual tour to do five things:
-Expose the property to more buyers
-Expose the agent to more sellers and buyers
-Show off the best features of the property
-Demonstrate to the seller that they are actively marketing the property
-Sell the home faster

Here are a few more reasons that may or may not come to mind:
-Create more personal website traffic
-Create more “Google Juice” to improve your website ranking
-Build brand awareness and increase market share

Okay, we know what we want, but how do we measure if our virtual tour provider meets our needs? If you want to expose your property to more buyers and sellers and demonstrate to the seller your marketing skills, it won’t do you any good if the virtual tour simply sits idle on your website without being distributed to a global network of real estate sites. So, if exposure is your objective and the virtual tour provider doesn’t have a significant distribution system—naughty!

If you want to show off the best features of the property and the virtual tour does not include high-definition full-screen capability, and HD YouTube videos—naughty, naughty!

How about creating more website traffic and Google Juice? Or selling the home faster? You will want to be sure your virtual tour provider includes links to your website, including the ability to download the YouTube Video (if they create one) so you can include it on your personal YouTube Channel and gain the advantage of backlinks to your website and improve your Google score—very nice!

Speaking of YouTube videos and other features that are nice, is there an extra charge for the YouTube video? Do you have to pay extra for distribution, agent website? How about social media, mobile optimized—are these extra fees? If so—naughty, naughty, and naughty!

No different than your cable TV service, your mobile phone or even the latest and coolest gadgets on the market, if they start off free just to get you hooked, and then charge for all the extras—or worse,

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