All industries can fall victim to bad marketing trends, and, unfortunately, the real estate sector hasn’t been spared. We all remember QR code yard signs, warped 360-degree panoramas and the cheesy Ken Burns effect. Through it all, quality real estate photography has triumphed over the short-term lure of novelty technologies. From now archaic newspaper ads to modern social media spots, there’s been one constant in real estate marketing: professional photography. Regardless of the introduction of new technology, photography will continue to find success.
Though real estate is a notoriously slow industry to adopt new technologies, there’s growing interest in interactive home tours. Whether you call it 3D, 2D, walk-throughs or virtual reality, the technology is occasionally neat, but rarely necessary. “The Avatar Effect” removed, the fad has been limping toward viability with limited success for decades. 3D box office ticket sales are plummeting, and most 3D TV manufacturers ceased production in 2016. The lack of adoption of the technology is attributed to its dizzying effect on its viewers; in fact, 66 percent of 3D users report negative physical symptoms caused by technology that’s jarring to our senses, according to Science Daily.
Virtual reality goggles have been inundating real estate exhibit halls over the last five years. If you stop for a demo, you’ll be jerked from the kitchen to a guest bath in seconds. These 3D companies can offer more digestible still photos from their scans, but the unconventional camera produces an irregularly shaped eyesore that’s even poorer quality than an iPhone camera.
Those who have taken the financial plunge into 3D quickly realize the investment is both futile and expensive. According to industry research, the national average for brokerage advertising and marketing spend for real estate is less than 5 percent of gross margin. With this limited marketing budget, most brokerages don’t have $3,000-plus to spend on the camera required to produce 3D tours, and they don’t have extra resources laying around to spend on gimmicks.
The steep cost to brokers and agents aside, buyers are simply not interested in the technology. According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an eight-second attention span. After waiting for the page to load, buyers only have a couple seconds left to click through the home tour before they’ve lost interest. Consumers’ disinterest in 3D is supported by NAR’s 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Report: Polled buyers named photography as the No. 1 tool they value on listing sites, while 3D tours were absent from the 12-item list entirely.
If no one is buying 3D tours, why do we hear so much about them? The answer is venture capital. Since 2012, the leader in real estate 3D technology has raised more than $66 million in seed money. With that type of cash, it hasn’t been difficult for them to flood marketing channels.
Though it might not be as “shiny” at a trade show booth as virtual reality, an investment in professional photography is, by comparison, negligible—and pays in annuities. RISMedia reported that homes listed with professional real estate photography sell 32 percent faster and for more money. Unlike trendy interactive tours, great listing photos are a time-honored media that appeal to millennial and baby boomers alike.
Promoting a classic shouldn’t be confused with refuting innovation. Technological progression is absolutely mandatory for real estate to stay relevant as an industry; however, tools claiming to be a disruptor that are founded on flawed technology will only distract us from true progress.
Lauren Maloney is the marketing manager at PlanOmatic. For more information, visit www.planomatic.com.
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