Charleston, SC Posts


Do Virtual Tours increase or decrease traffic??

Photos are a must.  Not just one, but several and when I say several, I mean more than 4 or 5.  The virtual tourCharleston, SC MLS allows 24 photos and I'm still amazed at realtors that still do the minimum, one exterior photo.  Buyers often tell me that a house that doesn't have interior photos must not be pretty on the inside so they don't even put them on the list to view.  In today's world, buyers want photos, tours, videos and more.  It can seem like a catch 22.  I can pull traffic stats on my listings and some get clicked on hundreds of times a month, but we only average 5-6 showings.  The catch is that a virtual tour can be so giving that it reels someone in or can turn someone off.  How much is too much? Do you think virtual tours increase or decrease traffic?

Michele Reneau, ABR, GRI, CRS

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Comment balloon 26 commentsMichele Reneau • February 21 2009 08:59PM


My experience has shown that the virtual tour decreases traffic.  People simply jump to conclusions about the property when they see 4 or 5 rooms.  I'll not be doing them this year.

Posted by Susan Emo, Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area (Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage) almost 10 years ago

Hi Michele, You are lucky with your MLS. I belong to the Charlotte MLS and they only allow 8 and with that amount they go pretty fast. Take care!

Posted by Teresa Harris, Denver . Lake Norman . Charlotte (Lake Real Estate, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Hi Michelle~ I am not really sure if the tours increase or decrease traffic, but I do know that buyers want LOTS of photos or else they will rule the home out even quicker!

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) almost 10 years ago

Hi Michelle, Our board allows 10 photos. My company sites allow 25+ Now about virtual tours. If a house shows well, by all means do a tour. If it doesn't then stage it as well as you can and take still photos. BTW, I Love your blog header!

Posted by Marian Gregor-Ann, Arbor area Real Estate (Keller Williams) almost 10 years ago

I agree with Marian.  Whether the VT will help or hinder the number of showings scheduled depends on the home and the talent or lack of the one shooting and editing the virtual tour. 

Posted by Dianne Deming (RE/MAX Realty Group) almost 10 years ago

In the Triangle area we are allowed 12 photos but virtual tours seem to be the norm. I tend to agree with others that think it decreases traffic!

Posted by Lisa Southern, Lisa Southern Real Estate (Lisa Southern Real Estate) almost 10 years ago

I don't know where I stand on this one.  Since I am primarily a listing agent, I see them as a great tool for my sellers.  However, as a buyers agent, I think many of you make some interesting points about the buyers drawing conclusions and not looking at the home altogether.  Listing a home is an art and you want to make it look its best to get the most traffic first and foremost...

Posted by Mike Klijanowicz, Associate Broker @ Cummings & Co. Realtors (Cummings & Co. Realtors) almost 10 years ago


I think a lot of it depends on where your buyers are coming from.  I am in Sumter and with Shaw AFB here many of our buyers are coming here from overseas and elsewhere in the US.  One even bought his home without personally seeing the home but a very good virtual tour did the trick.  Everyone in the office has been told by military that without lots of pictures and VTs they just pass on that listing.  I know that when we were active duty, we would look at homes for 2 or 3 months before we were able to go to the next base.  Since you have Charleston AFB there, you probably have a number of AF people buying there also.  I can see where it would decrease traffic with local buyers but with military shopping from elsewhere and only having a couple of days to look at houses when they visit I think it will just help them with their shopping.

Posted by Ron Bridges (ERA Wilder Realty, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Hi Michele.  Personally, I don't think video tours are all that great.  Nevertheless, sellers expect them and I like to meet their expectations.  I can't see them being good enough to replace a buyer's personal visit to the home.

Posted by Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist (Keller Williams Realty Maui) almost 10 years ago

Michele - I never likes the virtual tours. I think you will do much better loading up as many pictures as you can.

Posted by Robert Schwabe, Orange Park Real Estate (EXP Realty) almost 10 years ago

BEFORE:  Our MLS allows up to 30 photos at no cost, so there's really no need for a virtual tour.  Those photos turn into a slideshow that is very nice.  That's how I felt before my daughter bought a home in Texas last year.

AFTER:  Our daughter sent us the listing info on homes she was considering last year, including the virtual tour.  She and we watched and re-watched the virtual tours, and paid little attention to those without one.  I don't know if her choice of home was based on its being the best house or the best virtual tour - maybe both.  Ever since, I use RealEstateShows with every listing.  Since my listings have been selling better than those of my competition, I have a little suspicion that it is a help.  Of course, they have been nice homes - I might not do one for a handman special.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Susan- I use virtual tours for other things like when a buyer purchases a home, I shoot one for their new home so that they can send it to their family and friends.  See my previous blog about how to use virtual tours with buyers.

Teresa-Only 8 photos!! That's crazy.  Members of the board need to petition for more.  I guess you'd almost have to use tours if you want to showcase the property.

Vickie-I agree. Buyers want them and if you don't give it, they will skip the listing and move on to another one.

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 10 years ago

Susan~ I forgot to mention to you.  Have you used that at all?  It is great for the money.  The owner of it is very active in here. 

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) almost 10 years ago

Marian- I agree that houses that do NOT show well do not deserve virtual tours.

Dianne-Don't forget to add the condition/staging of the home. 

Lisa-I know buyers have eliminated houses from the showing list because it didn't have photos.

Michael-I agree that it is a great tool as long as the seller is doing their part to prepare the house.

Ron-Yes, you are correct. We have lots of military families coming into the area.  I think for them, it could make the difference.  I know that I have made contact with military service members from my tours. They don't necessarily end up buying the house they contacted me about though.

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 10 years ago

Hi Michele, I think that buyers would prefer to see as much as they can of a house before driving to see it in person. As much information as you can give the better both visually and in text. If you can highlight the schools and area even better. Try to show the house in the best and realistic way possible. Panorama pictures are great but still pictures work just as well if you show enough of them. Think in terms of what the buyer wants to see not what you want the buuyer to see. The more you show the more interest from the buyers and ultimately the quicker the sale. There is a great free virtual tourebsite I can suggest. Very simple to use and it is free. Embed the toour in your own website and or send it out to potential customers and see for yourself the interest you get. For those who want to use video it even allows you to include that. One last comment ensure that whatever software you use to create your tour(s) do not require plugins as most people do not want to install things that they think may jepordize their security and obviously if they are acdcesing the site from work they won't be allowed to download plugins.

Posted by Sal almost 10 years ago

Richard-I agree, nothing replaces a personal visit.

Robert-I think the virtual tours will depend on the creater, but I agree many aren't that great.

Margaret-I agree with you, I wouldn't do it on a property that was a handyman special.  I think tours/panoramic shots are good to help buyers get an idea of the flow of a room especially if they are connected to more than one room,  namely living room, dining, kitchen. 

Sal-I agree that buyers want it all upfront.  The potential catch 22 is that they assume a lot about the property and might eliminate it before walking in.

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 10 years ago


I feel that the virtual tour is a great seller pleaser.

I also think that some tours like Visual tour and 360 biz.  help the dispersment of the property through the internet, because it posts to many sites.  It also privides the listing extra coverage if the property is found on MLS, etc than the average listing. 

Do showings drop.   Well I believe that the internet is the new open house, so likewise buyers will view the tour.

But if you have done a good enough tour, with good photos, you will get more quality showings.   Hassling the seller less. 

So less showings can be a good thing.

RealestateGuy in Madison Wi

Posted by Real Estate Guy in Madison, Wisconsin, Real Estate Guy (Powered by: eXp Realty) almost 10 years ago


I've never been big on virtual tours.  I think it makes the home owner feel good but I don't believe it helps the home sell faster.  Most of the buyers I've talked to said that it takes to long to load so they don't use it.  There are probably a select group of buyers who utilize it but I don't think it gets them out to see the property any faster than a host of pictures.

I'm always amazed at the agents that only put a few pictures as well.

Posted by Michael Johnson, Metro Charleston SC (Carolina One Real Estate) almost 10 years ago

Guy-Good point.  Less showings but better quality showings is a good thing!

Michael-I agree that if it takes too long to load, it can be a turnoff.  I think a buyer that is coming from out of town on a short time frame might be the ideal users. 

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 10 years ago

Michele - hmmm... good points you raise and everyone has responded to.  As you know, we provide an RES with each of our vacant staging jobs.  I like to think that it helps buyers to get a clear idea of what the home has to offer.  We also try to add extra photos after the show, so there is even more to look at.  Because we add our BEST photos, it would be hard to imagine they would see something they wouldn't like in the photo that they would like in person.... which goes back to Guy's point of better quality showings.

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 10 years ago


I've been closely watching this discussion unfold since you dropped this post a few days ago. I do agree that the public wants to see as much about our listings as they can online. Virtual tours are one way to appease their hunger. For me a really interesting question to ask is this: does more information online (through multi media like added pictures, virtual tours or even video) lower the number of showings it takes to secure an acceptable offer? I'm all for letting the internet act as a filter to eliminate the "tire kickers". There is always the downside risk that the best buyer could see something about the house that they don't like in the media and remove themself from contention. But I have to believe that this risk is pretty small. I'd like to see a study that correlates enhanced media exposure to these three things: 1) the number of showings it takes to make the sale, 2) the percentage of the original asking price returned in the sale price and 3) days on market. Anybody out there interested it tracking this for a while?

Posted by Harold "Hal" Benz, CEO/ Team Leader (Keller Williams NJ Metro Group) almost 10 years ago

Melissa-I agree that not having great photos can turn buyers off.  I always love your before and after photos.  They make the point without saying a word.

Hal-I have the stats from several of my listings that were staged.  I do multiple photos and virtual tours on them.  In November (supposedly a not so hot time on the market), I had a listing for $250K that sold in 7 days for $250K.  The buyers were out of town.  The agent called me and said, don't sell this house until my folks can come in town this weekend.  From the photos, this is the perfect house.  I don't think without the tour to give them an idea of the floorplan that this phone call would have happen.  Needless to say, we got a full price offer in 7 days.  The 2nd house was in a neigborhood with 11 other competiting listings on the market for 90-100 days.  When we listed, it was priced slightly higher than competiting listings at $155K b/c it had some nice upgrades (new roof, wood floors, etc).  We had 7-10 showings and got a ratified contract in 30 days at $152,500.  I wouldn't want to risk it for my clients to only put one photo and risk a quick sale.  That being said, both homes were exceptional in their condition, upgrades, and staging which I feel made the difference. But without the exposure of photos to draw buyers in, I don't think we would have had as quick of a sale. 

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 10 years ago

MORNING MICELE!  I don't use virtual tours - I think they are challenging for many of the clients that don't have high-tech computers.  Virtual tours sometimes can distract or deter the buyer -- Gabrielle

Posted by Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind, Broker/Owner (KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate) almost 10 years ago

Michele-My MLS allows 18 photos and I always try and fill that unless doing so shows something unfavorable or something that might make someone make a decision without making the trip to see the house.  I save virtual tours for bigger homes or homes that are immaculate so that it leaves the buyer wanting to see more.  Again I feel showing too much, you run the risk of someone making a decision of not viewing based on pictures when in person they might actually love the house. 


Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036 (Shahar Management) almost 10 years ago

I have created a new virtual tour for do-it-yourself agents who want to feature their own photos. Cost is $15 for up to 30 photos, one full year's hosting is included in price.

Since we create tours from the agent's own photos, we are not location-specific. We handle orders from all over the U.S.

Check us out at

Mel Metts

Posted by Mel Metts (Graff Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Hi michelle, First showing is done online, in my opinion a virtual tour is indespensable.


Posted by Dolores "Dee" Mauriello, Realtor, Homes For Sale Wayne NJ (Weichert Realtors) almost 7 years ago

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