Ep. 2: Real Estate Photography & 3D Virtual Tours with Wes & Anthony
This episode of the Welcome Home Podcast is sponsored by:
Visit their website at www.tourmaxmedia.com
[00:00:04] Welcome home, a podcast brought to you by John Houston Custom Homes. Join host Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor as they walk you through the exciting adventure of your home buying and building journey.
Whitney: [00:00:18] Hello, everyone. I'm Whitney Pryor, alongside my co-host, Chelsi Frazier. We both serve as Marketing Managers at John Houston Custom Homes.
Whitney: [00:00:27] Chelsi, what's today's topic on the Welcome Home podcast? And who do we have sitting with us at the kitchen table today?
Chelsi: [00:00:33] I'm so excited to have Anthony Ford and Wes Ireton, co-owners of Tourmax Real Estate Media, as our guest experts to talk about today's new homebuyer. Welcome, guys! We're just curious, how did the two of you come together and start this adventure. Wes?
Wes: [00:00:49] Well, it's it's quite a weird story, actually. I was doing something similar. I was in Fort Worth and of course Anthony was in Burleson. We were kind of both launching out on our own from our previous jobs and taking photos for maybe a handful of realtors, and to me, it was just something brand new. Anthony would say the same. A Realtor approached me actually one Sunday at church and said, "Hey, would you like to take some photos of a house for sale?" And I was like, "Sure.. Why?"
Wes: [00:01:24] I thought that's something you did with your phone, you know? And he was like, "No, we would pay you to come and take photos of our houses." And of course, I was terrible at first and just had to learn that process. In doing that and trying to grow my business individually, I ran across Anthony at a networking meeting at a place in Burleson. We just got to talking and brainstorming together what it would look like for us to kind of join forces and really create a company that could be truly a one-stop shop for real estate agents and home builders and people trying to market and sell a home for sale, and to give them all the media that they would need to do that. So that's what we did almost six years ago. Ever since then, it's just been a great partnership and we've been blessed to grow as large as we have so far.
Whitney: [00:02:14] Wes, you bring up an interesting point. You said that you thought taking pictures of a home is really just for cell phones and you didn't realize that it was for professional photography. That's really interesting, because about that time is when people were just taking pictures with their cell phones of their homes and you got kind of these creepy images of dark bathrooms and half of a wall because you couldn't see the whole interior of a home. Professional photography has really changed that space, hasn't it?
Wes: [00:02:46] Yeah, absolutely. It's one of those things that at first, in our first year or two of business, it was trying to convince realtors that this was a better way of doing it, and it's worth spending the extra hundred bucks to have that professional look. So we would oftentimes compare those cell phone photos to what we do and that was like our marketing sales piece. Now the challenge is different; obviously, the sales approach is different and that's kind of become something of the past, but definitely at first, it was overcoming that challenge of "I can just take them for free with my phone." And, you know, you get what you pay for.
Whitney: [00:03:26] Can you talk to us about what the standard is with your photos? How many pictures should you take and where should they be posted? What type of techniques you guys use to make those photos really pop? We can start with you, Anthony.
Anthony: [00:03:42] There's the magic number for real estate agents, which is 36 that they can use for MLS. That's a great starting point, I believe, but I think it depends on each house. Each house is different; You know, how big it is and what you're trying to feature. So if it's a larger home, a model home, or something for a home builder, you might need more than just 36. It might be good to have up to 50 or even more. It really depends on what you're using to market these homes or whatever it is you're marketing. That has a lot to do with it.
Whitney: [00:04:15] So where are some of the common places these photos are used? We know realtors put them on MLS, but what are some other ways that people are using those photos?
Anthony: [00:04:28] One of the biggest places is Facebook. Of course, everybody is on Facebook, which is a good and a bad thing. That's where all the eyeballs are, so everyone's going to be posting those on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever it is that you like to use. That's where people are seeing a lot of these photos and are sharing them with that power of social networking.
Whitney: [00:04:54] And that's interesting because we use social media all the time and we'll post the feel good posts with the family, and people like it, but not quite as much as the photos of our homes. When we share the photos of our homes there's just an instant like to to all of those photos. People seem enamored by the ability of walking through pictures of a home on Facebook.
Chelsi: [00:05:26] Do you guys see a big difference in views of photos of staged homes versus non-staged homes? Do you feel like it really makes a difference in the quality of pictures or the amount of use?
Wes: [00:05:41] I would say that it definitely depends on how it is staged, and if it's staged well and leaves plenty of space. I think there's two different markets we're talking about: the Airbnb or the home builder that's really trying to sell a story and a look or an overall feel of a place, and then a realtor, who may be just trying to sell the home as it is and they're trying to give it more space.
Wes: [00:06:14] So I think that if it's staged properly, it's always best to be staged. When a real estate agent is going into a home, a very important part of their role is to see how it's staged organically from the family or whoever lives there and then see if they need to make any changes to help de-clutter things. Because the photos people see of the space is what they're making their decision on as far as, do I want to go and see this place? So the photos need to show that space well.
Chelsi: [00:06:48] Let's talk about Matterport Tours. A lot of people don't know what Matterport is, But I think a big question is, do you have to have it? Does it make a big difference? What is it? Anthony, can you tell us a little bit about Matterport tours and how they are beneficial to the realtor, client, or even the home builder?
Anthony: [00:07:18] So the Matterport tours are 3D virtual tours that we take by bringing Matterport cameras into a property and scanning it. What the Matterport camera allows us to capture is a 3D rendering of sorts and allows people to tour a house, almost like a video game. They can walk through the house and look up, look down, and really get a feel for what it would be like to actually walk through the property. You know, there's so many different features that these Matterports can do and I don't think most people realize that. They're pretty powerful and great for people who are looking out of state and looking at properties that they may not be willing to travel to. It's very useful to be able to pop in and look at these properties virtually.
Wes: [00:08:11] Yeah, it's not too often that you can view a home in your underwear, laying in bed, just relaxing on a Saturday morning. It's just one of those things that has really changed the way people view the homes, and especially during what we're going through now with the Covid-19 pandemic. We've heard from so many Realtors in the office that have reached out through email and said, "Thank you very much for the 3D tour, it sold the house." You know, they were able to see the home well enough, organically, and authentically enough to realize that this is where we want to be, and even do all the closing and signing virtually without ever setting foot in the house. We've heard success stories of that happening over and over and over again in the past couple of months, and I think the Matterport Tour really allows people to take their time. It's so interactive to where they genuinely feel like they're walking through the place.
Wes: [00:09:12] We were one of the first in the DFW area to have those cameras, and it was kind of a new phenomenon. The pricing was a bit higher because the industry didn't really know what it was worth at that point. And it's honestly kind of fizzled a little bit in the last couple of years because people haven't really seen the value in it until now. It's our hope that throughout this process of the pandemic that people have realized the true value of what these cameras bring and that it'll be more of a staple going forward.
Whitney: [00:09:46] What we've seen ourselves with the Matterport Tours is that as soon as we post a home with the tour on our Website or on MLS, we see tons of views on that home and we get way more showings. I think that Matterport Tours are going to be what professional photography was 10 years ago when people were still using their cell phones to take pictures, and then professional photography kind of became the norm. I'm thinking that through this pandemic, we're going to see where virtual tours now become the norm with most real estate photography.
Wes: [00:10:22] Absolutely, and before the pandemic, and even after, we're still going to be the same busy culture that may not have the time to go physically view a home. Right now we have the luxury of being stuck at home and we have that time to go online and view homes in that way, but I think even after life gets back to somewhat normal the tours will still be valuable because it cuts down having to take time out of your day,and driving to that location. It's just such an easier way for the buyers and sellers.
Chelsi: [00:11:05] I agree. We've actually even seen these tours help our home buyers when they're looking for specific floor plans. So let's say I live in Midlothian, but I really want to see a specific floor plan that's not in Midlothian, and it's in another John Houston community in Burleson. And we're busy, because like you said, everybody's busy. So I can go online and look at that floor plan without having to drive to Burleson and decide that I either really do want to see this home in person or, this actually isn't what I was looking for, so now I don't have to make that drive. I think that our busy culture definitely fits right into Matterport Tours. When we started doing our Model Home tours with you guys all those years ago we really saw the benefit of that 3D virtual experience. Now we've taken it a step further and have all of our floor plans, 30 plus floor plans, with virtual tours and put on our Website. It's been a huge tool for us.
Wes: [00:12:04] All of us in this room have sold a house, right? And we know that pain of getting the house ready and then getting that text or phone call,"Hey, we want to do a showing," and then we have to figure out where we're going to go and hide for an hour; go to the park or go go out to eat or go do something. And you're doing that time and time again, especially during a busy market. You may do that three or four times on a Saturday. And then your whole weekend is trying to figure out, can we be at home? Can we not be at home? So if I was selling my house, I would say to my realtor, let's do a 3-D Tour, because then I know the people that are going to come are that much more serious of a buyer because they've already seen the house. I've always been a big fan of Matterport Tours because we've seen it work for both the buyer and seller.
Whitney: [00:14:12] I'd like to pause for a second and tell you a little bit more about our sponsor and interview guests, Tourmax Real Estate Media. Did you know 90% of home buyers shop online before ever visiting a home? The importance for professional media and content creation has never been more important. Tourmax Real Estate Media has been proudly serving real estate agents, homebuilders and property managers across DFW since 2014. Whether it's photography, videography, drone or 3D, they are here to help. Visit them online at tourmaxmedia.com. Now back to our conversation with West and Anthony.
Chelsi: [00:14:57] Another thing that people are using a lot is drone and aerial footage. I wanted to ask Tourmax about that, because I know that's something that you offer. So tell me about drone photography and video footage, and how you guys have been using that.
Anthony: [00:15:19] Aerial Photography is something we got into as soon as we figured out how accessible drones were, and pretty affordable. The quality is amazing for what you're getting. Before, you'd have to get a helicopter to get some of these shots, but now it's like you've got a drone in your pocket almost. So we jumped on that as soon as we could. We went through all the certifications with FAA so we were certified and cleared for air travel. It's pretty serious, because it's almost like you're flying a small aircraft, so we did go through the proper channels.
Anthony: [00:16:03] It's impressive for realtors or home builders, or anyone marketing a property to be able to show a bird's eye view or show a video of farm and ranch properties, for example. We can show this lifestyle of farm and ranch using cinematic methods with a drone and and other cameras, too. But with the drone, you're able to really show off that acreage and the property.
Wes: [00:16:33] You know, we want to use everything we can to help people feel and understand what life would be like at this place, in this house, or on this property. And the drone and that aerial view is just one more key piece, in my opinion, of portraying that. It's one thing to say, this home is just minutes from downtown or this home is right around the corner from the lake. You can write that all you want, but a not a lot of people are going to read the whole description.They're just going to focus on the media.
Wes: [00:17:11] The statistics show that if there's pictures of the home, they're looking at the pictures first before they read anything. Now if there's a video there, they're looking at that first, then the pictures, then reading. So it's and advantage to be able to show that view up above the house where the lake's right there. It just helps them instantly say, yes, that's what I'm looking for, especially when it comes to farm and ranch. In my opinion, you can't list a farm or a ranch without it. You have to show that acreage. You have to show those pastures. You need to show those trees and the layout of the land. The farm and ranch buyer is different than a home buyer or residential buyer because of the things they care most about; tanks, ponds, creeks, tree lines, fence lines and all of that. So it's super important to us. That's why as soon as we could, we got that that certification to be part 107 certified so that we can legally fly drones commercially.
Whitney: [00:18:14] So I've got to ask; my husband has a drone. He loves it. They're so much fun, so does it ever get old? Does it ever feel like you're going to work when you're going to do a drone video?
Wes: [00:18:24] They are fun. Every opportunity is definitely unique and individual. Some ranches I go out on and get some really cool drone shots, and you get really excited about it. You get the creative juices flowing and you're thinking, I could fly this thing down low, down through these trees, down the creek and it's going to look great. You're already picturing the video in your mind and it makes it really fun. Then, of course, it feels like a job sometimes as well, where you're just like, I need to get my five or six shots here. But for sure, as we started this thing is it didn't feel like a job for a long time. It's just the creative side of us and who we are as as people. We can't believe we get paid to play with cameras all day. So yes, there are days where it feels like work and we'd rather be at home by the pool, but there's a lot of days, much more days, where it feels like a lot of fun.
Whitney: [00:19:20] Can you talk a little more about the community videos that you do? I know home builders are using these, but I don't think that a lot of realtors are. What are those and what does that process looks like?
Anthony: [00:19:36] So these videos are a great way to show off the community. We are currently at Legacy Estates. So the community video would show what Legacy Estates has to offer. We have a drone come in through the neighborhood and as it's flying through the community it's showing off maybe where the park is, or the pool, and it's showing off the streets. So that's one aspect. And then it could also be a lifestyle video where we're having a family pull up in the driveway and we're showing the kids running out of the house or running out of the car into the house and just portraying what life could look like when you live at, fill in the blank. In this case, Legacy Estates.
Wes: [00:20:14] A lot of times we get asked to consult with real estate professionals, even other marketing teams, on how to reach people from a real estate perspective. We've been doing this for six years, and for myself, in marketing even previous to that. One thing I always ask real estate agents, and the same can be asked of homebuilders, is how can you become the local resource, or that knowledge point for people when it comes to a specific niche, or even more on a micro level, a specific neighborhood.
Wes: [00:20:50] So let's say that you have a larger neighborhood; Legacy Estates, for example. You have a real estate agent who is the local know-it-all about the neighborhood, and the material that they put out on their social media is not just call-to-action, like "I've got this listing so call me when you wanna buy." "Call me when you want to sell." You know, "Give me your money. Give me your money. Give me your money." Instead the majority of the posts are like, "Hey, I'm here visiting the community pool. Did you know that there's two really nice grills over here that are completely free to use for anybody who lives in the neighborhood?" or, "Hey, we've got a new house going up over here on this street. Here's another family that lives on this street and they're going to tell us what they love about the neighborhood." Anything that the realtor can do to really portray themselves as somebody that is "in the know" when it comes to the neighborhood makes it that much more likely they'll be the first person called when someone wants to buy in the neighborhood. So these community videos are great tools for real estate agents and marketing teams that are trying to market a neighborhood because they can use that as their sales piece and their own marketing tools.
Whitney: [00:22:03] That's a great point. It's not always about the hard sell of "Buy this home. You need to come tour it right now." It's more about keeping your name out in the community. You might go and do an interview at the movie theater or highlight other features in the community, but as long as you're consistently posting and keeping your name out on social media, or whatever avenues you're using, you can become a community expert. Talking about community value and sharing that information is a great talking point, and that's what really ends up selling themselves in the long run.
Wes: [00:23:04] Absolutely, and a lot of times I think real estate agents just think "I'm going to sell anybody's house, anytime, anywhere, and that's who my target demographic is." A lot of them start off in that way. But I think the ones that really become successful come to a point where they narrow it down and become an expert in one niche. Not that they won't sell anybody else's house outside of that, because they will. Those will come from more referrals. But really their focus is "Who am I going to target with my marketing and how am I going to do that more intentionally?" I think those are the people that really stand out and last longer.
Chelsi: [00:23:38] I think that's really great information for our audience. It's our hope to have a lot of realtors and people looking to buy homes listening to this podcast, so I think that's great information for the realtor looking for what they should be doing or finding those upcoming tools, but also for the buyer to know what kind of realtor they should be looking for. So speaking of Marketing, I know that Tourmax offers marketing services. Let's talk about what you're doing with that and what you have to offer.
Wes: [00:24:12] As far as marketing goes, we can offer a real estate agent every tool they would need to market themselves. We can help advise you on social media. We can consult with you on your Website or your branding, logos, all of those things.
Wes: [00:24:29] When it comes down to it we always encourage the agents to take control and take initiative, whether it's their own assistant running social media or themselves. What we promise is that we'll provide all the tools you need, whether it's photography, videography, marketing strategies, 3-D Aerial services, any media that you would need to put out there. But what we've seen to be more successful is that it's always best coming from them because they're the one that's got the passion. They're the ones that really resonates with the viewer who's going to see it. And we did we did offer some social media marketing for agents in the past. We'd definitely love to sit down, talk with you, and give you some tips on how to be more successful with your platforms. We'll give you all the tools and creative content you need, and share some ideas on how to get it out there, but it's always best if you take it, use it and run with it.
Chelsi: [00:25:51] Well we are so glad to have you on our podcast today. You're both a wealth of knowledge in this industry. Before we leave for the day, is there anything else you'd like us to know about Tourmax Real Estate Media and what's coming up next for you guys?
Anthony: [00:26:17] Well during the pandemic, we didn't know how our business was going to be affected, and we've actually been busier than ever. And we are fortunate because I know other businesses cannot say that. So we're blessed to be as busy as we are. We don't have any other explanation for it, but we are hitting the ground running. We're shooting anywhere from 20 to 30 houses a day with our team. And right now we need more help, we need more workers, which is incredible to say.
Wes: [00:26:46] Yeah I think these last couple of months have shown us the importance of media. It falls into the cycle we've started with first trying to convince people that professional photography is better than cell phone photography, and then convincing them that aerial photography is that much better. Then convincing them that videos are that much better. And now we've proven to them that media in general is just better. You know, it's just a better way of doing business. It's the culture and the era we live in and it's what people rely on. And if you don't use it, you're just going to get left in the dust. There's pros and cons always, but it's definitely what we consider a necessity, and not just because we provide it. We try to provide it at a fair price and provide people with great jobs, while at the same time providing real estate agents with great media that they can use to set themselves apart.
Whitney: [00:27:50] Anthony and Wes, thank you so much for joining us today.
Whitney: [00:27:54] Be sure to click the description for episode notes. If you're interested in Tourmax Real Estate Media services, you can visit their website at www.tourmaxmedia.com. For more information about John Houston Custom Homes check out our website at www.jhoustonhomes.com. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, and for any other questions or comments, call us at 866-646-6008, or, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:28:30] Welcome home!