How to Create Better Video Tours For Your Rental Property
The world has changed in the past couple of years, in part due to COVID-19 but also the boom of virtual reality. It changed the way we socialize and even the way we shop for products. It also changed the housing market and how people go about viewing property listings. These days, people want you to do more than just upload images. It's important for rental property owners and property managers to think of creative ways to showcase their rental property virtually with rental video tours.
One of the best things you can do right now is to start offering virtual tours of your apartment. Did you know real estate listings with video receive 403 percent more leads than those without? You might wonder how to get started. Don't worry, we've got you covered with all the important deets on making your own virtual tours.
There are several approaches to creating virtual property tours — some involve hiring a professional virtual tour photographer, oftentimes costing several hundred, if not several thousands of dollars. If you're pressed on time and money, we suggest a simpler solution — use your smartphone. It's easy and equally as effective. It's also worth your time as 49 percent of renters say a pre-recorded video tour is an acceptable replacement for an in-person tour.
Advantages of using rental video tours for your properties
Real estate is a business, whether it's a large real estate business or a one-man show. And, while a big real estate company probably has its own website and professionals who shoot 360-degree images for them, a small business owner can do the same. If you're trying to show your rental properties on your own, how do you stand out?
There are a couple of advantages to creating a rental video tour for a potential buyer. Think of them like personal video calls. Creating a virtual tour engages the viewer and allows them to interact with the property rather than just looking at stale pictures. With a virtual tour, prospective tenants are able to explore the space and picture themselves living there.
By uploading a new tour, you're also allowing more people who can't come in person to view the property. Virtual tours create a way for people to tour the house from the comfort of their homes. In this day and age, that's a priceless advantage that every property manager should use.
Personalize the rental video tour
When you start to shoot new footage, try to create an experience as close to an in-person house showing or apartment showing as you can. You want them to feel intrigued the minute the tour loads. When you upload the photos to your website, you want the viewer to picture themselves in every room. If you're not quite sure how to achieve this, it's helpful to search online for an example image of a staged room for reference.
When prospective renters can see themselves in the future space, they're more likely to submit an application. So, it's a good idea to have the application requirements ready to go just in case.
Can I create a virtual tour for free?
While it may take some time, you can absolutely easily create a rental video tour without hiring a virtual tour creator. Once you have a better understanding of the process of taking 360-degree photos and knowledge of how to use your camera to upload amazing images, you'll be good to go.
Choose the right virtual tour software and equipment for creating rental video tours
The first thing you should do before you shoot your virtual tour is to make sure you have the right equipment and virtual tour software. You want to shoot every room in high quality to get the best image. But, this doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a high-end camera — you can take great photos right from your phone.
There are a lot of different ways you can go about gathering images for your virtual tour. Here are a couple of helpful and different options for taking photos and creating your rental video tour.
Use a DSLR camera
While having a high-end camera isn't a must, it will deliver top-notch photos. If you're interested in investing a little more time into your tour, then a DSLR camera might be the right fit for you.
If you go with a DSLR camera, you'll also need other equipment for it. This would include a fisheye lens — which will be helpful in getting a wide-angled shot and panoramic images. You should also consider investing in a tripod to steady the camera when shooting. As with any camera, you'll have a camera screen that allows you to check the images for any mistakes to fix.
Kits and a phone
If you're looking for something simpler than a camera, using your phone to take panoramic photos is the best choice for you. There are a lot of different apps and products that can help you achieve the best 3-D images to upload.
Apps such as The3D App, which is a free app, or RICOH 360, will help you create a 360-degree view of your properties. A VR KIT is another great product that helps users create a virtual new tour with the help of their smartphone camera.
Get the best image for your tours
Now that you know what virtual tour software and tools will help create the best virtual tours, here are some tips for getting a great image and 360-degree photos.
Always record in landscape mode
Nothing is worse than viewing a high-quality tour with two black vertical bars on each side of the screen. Avoid this mistake by filming your virtual tour in landscape orientation, or horizontally.
Besides being more aesthetically pleasing, you'll capture more in your shot than you would if you filmed vertically. Prospective renters that watch your property video on a widescreen or on their phones will also have a better viewing experience.
Lighting is everything
Generally, the best natural lighting is in the late afternoon. However, if there are strong sun rays beaming through your windows when you're trying to grab footage for the tour, these can cause your video to look overexposed or too bright and washed out. If this happens, close your blinds a bit or move to the next room and come back when the light is better.
Backlighting is also important to pay attention to in a photo. Avoid shooting directly into a source of light or in front of windows. The bright light will ultimately overshadow what you're trying to capture. Keeping natural light on your back vs. facing directly into the light will capture better results.
You'll likely have to play around a bit with how much natural lighting you use based on your property, but small adjustments can make a large difference.
One last bit of advice: Try to avoid using your smartphone's camera built-in light. It never gives you as good of an image as natural light does.
Managing your audio while filming
Here are some considerations for using narration for your videos:
- Plan on narrating? If you want to add hotspots or certain features of your property you'd like to provide additional context for, we recommend incorporating narration within your tour. For example, if you want prospective renters to know one of the rooms within your property was recently renovated, this is great information to include as a voiceover while you film footage for that room.
- No narration? To avoid editing awkward background noise once you've captured all of your footage, we recommend turning your audio on mute while filming. Add some music once you've put your video together to keep people stimulated while watching. The music ultimately sets the mood for viewers while they watch, and they won't get distracted by that truck that drove by while you were filming.
Frame your shots and limit zooming in
Just like photos, you want to have a clear focal point within all of your footage. Don't be shy. Be sure to showcase the best attributes of your rental property. Use different angles to get the best photo of the space.
Lastly, while most smartphones have a zoom feature, don't use it. This functionality makes your subject appear closer, but pixelation or blurriness comes along with it. Rather than zooming, we recommend simply walking closer to the subject you're looking to focus on to grab a tighter shot for your virtual tour.
Don't cover the lens with your finger
While this may seem obvious, it's easy to film and not realize if your finger is blocking the camera lens. When you start to edit your footage, you'll see the negative effects, such as an odd-looking color as part of your shot. The exposure and lighting of the footage can also be compromised.
Keep your hands steady while filming
Besides those two black bars we mentioned above, nothing is more distracting to a prospective renter than trying to view a property video that's shaky. When filming, keeping your hands as steady as possible is key.
We recommend standing against the wall or within a corner of each room and establishing a wide shot with your smartphone. Make sure to hold the phone as close to your body as possible and brace your arms at your torso. Then, carefully, slowly and steadily move your torso to capture the entirety of the room, grabbing a panning or horizontal shot. By twisting your torso, you won't need to move your hands whatsoever, eliminating shakiness within your footage.
As mentioned above, you can invest in a tripod to make sure all the images look great! Here are a few options we recommend.
If you have time, edit your video to tell a cohesive story
Editing is daunting and honestly, it's a long process. But, with the right editing tools and software, it gets easier.
And, the truth is, a little editing of your camera footage goes a long way when showing your virtual tour to prospective renters. Here are a few apps we recommend to help put your virtual tour together.
Apple's native video editor, iMovie, is a no-brainer if you have a Mac or an iPad because you don't have to search the app store to download it. It comes with all Apple products.
It's easy to use, even if you've never edited a video before. Drag and drop in clips to organize your video, and edit each individual clip by swiping down. When you're done, click save on the left side of the screen and you're good to go. Now that you have a great virtual tour, you can finish uploading it onto your website.
This free iPhone software offers just about everything iMovie does. Simply tap the clips from each room you shot to trim them. You can find soundtracks within the app that you can also add to your video. Download this app and start creating excellent virtual tours.
Editing doesn't get much simpler than when you use this editing software, made specifically for Androids. All you have to do is upload your image and you can edit and trim clips directly from your smartphone or tablet. Once you have the final product saved in the app or in your camera roll you can upload it straight to Youtube.
Adobe Premier Pro
If you don't want to use an app and want to upload an image directly from your camera to a computer editing software, then Adobe's editing software might just be for you.
While Adobe is tough to learn at first, they offer helpful tutorials to help new users. You can find help in their toolbar on the left side of the screen.
Film your virtual tour
Virtual tours are here to stay and if you want to rent out your space, you should start using them! All you need are some well-lit photos and virtual tour software and you're good to go. Use the tools above to help you get started and then, create your own process to get the best tour you can.
Bonus tip, it's really helpful to upload a Google street view of your real estate so that buyers can get a 360-degree tour of the neighborhood they might live in, too.