Are virtual tours in property akin to online dating in romance?
4 August 2015 by Jason Torrance
Being home owners ourselves, we speak from experience when we say that one of the most frustrating parts of purchasing a property, other than the packing (which in some cases was done very last minute!) and subsequent unpacking (some of us are not completely unpacked a year on!), are the numerous viewings we go through to find our “perfect property”……or at least the best one we could afford at the time.
One way in which tedious property viewings may become a thing of the past is with the introduction of the virtual tour. This allows us to view our potential new castle from the comfort of our own living rooms so we don’t miss that all important match and saving us from leaving the property we just viewed feeling as though we just wasted half an hour of our lives. We can (in theory at least) view the property on our I-pads as though we were there ourselves, finishing the tour satisfied that we made the right decision not to go and the view the property in person.
So what is a virtual tour? A virtual tour is designed to make us feel as though we are actually there and is often used to describe a variety of videos and photographic-based media. Panorama indicates an unbroken view, since a panorama can be either a series of photographs or panning video footage. However, the phrases “panoramic tour” and “virtual tour” have mostly been associated with virtual tours created using still cameras. Such virtual tours are made up of a number of shots taken from a single vantage point. The camera and lens are rotated around what is referred to as a no parallax point (the exact point at the back of the lens where the light converges). The distinction between a virtual tour and a video tour is that a video tour is, in effect, someone walking through the property using a video recorder to view it. The end outcome is that after the virtual tour we have seen everything we wanted to see and decided the property is, or is not, right for us.
Or have we? Have we seen everything we wanted to see, or everything the people selling it wanted us to see? Surely we weren’t just shown the spacious living and modern kitchen, but also the poorly designed bathroom where the toilet may as well be in the bath and the cupboard under the stairs designed for a Borrower (for those of you that remember the Borrowers!) and that is in reality about as useful for storage as a chocolate teapot. Will the virtual tour simply be a way for us to actually waste more time, watching the tour of all the best bits and deciding that the property is far too nice not to view, only to be severely let down when we go there in person and wonder if the virtual tour was even the same property we are viewing in person.
That is, of course, a very cynical view. Virtual tours are being implemented as another tool to help buyers and sellers in this increasingly online market. Those selling the properties do have a vested interest in making the property seem as desirable as possible, but at the same time surely none expect a purchaser to buy a property based upon a virtual tour and without them physically viewing the property and see it as a way to ensure that property viewings will be informed by the virtual tour rather than speculative. Perhaps the virtual tour in the property world is akin to online dating – we can take an initial look and rule it out, but until we take the plunge in person we cannot rule it in.