The Difference Between Self-Guided Tours and Virtual Tours

By: Marissa Cohen

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There’s often confusion about self-guided tours versus virtual tours as they relate to the real estate industry. In short, the main difference is that virtual tours are a completely online experience via computer or smartphone, while self-guided tours are completed in person tours, but are unattended by a leasing agent or realtor. In a broader view, there are a few additional differences between virtual tours and self-guided tours.

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours can come in a couple different forms. Sometimes, a realtor or leasing agent will take a video walking through a property and surrounding amenity areas, which you can watch back via smartphone or computer. Other times, virtual tours offer the ability to tour a property via computer software. There’s often a virtual walkthrough of units and common areas with the ability to pan out and move between rooms, as well as a 360-view so you can see every nook and cranny of the unit or home. Virtual tours are convenient because you’re able to view the property from the comfort of your own home, allowing you to rule out properties you wouldn’t like to see in person. While virtual tours can give you an idea of what a property is like, most people still feel it’s necessary to see a property in person before committing to a lease or purchase.

Self-Guided Tours

Self-guided tours provide an opportunity to visit a potential apartment or home in-person, but without a leasing agent or realtor present. This provides flexibility that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. A prospect can tour when it’s most convenient for them, not based on leasing office hours. This makes the process much easier, allowing maximum convenience.

Typically, self-guided tours require a pre-approval process that includes collecting contact information as well as a picture of their ID and a selfie for comparison. This qualification process ensures that property management knows who is on their property for unattended showings. Once the qualification process is completed, prospects are granted access to the property with a one-time use access code that unlocks a smart lock or lock box to the unit and/or community amenities.

Use Cases

Both virtual tours and self-guided tours can provide value when searching for a new home. In fact, a property may even opt to offer both features to really hone in on the prospect experience.

Virtual Tours Use Cases

Virtual tours give prospects their first look into a potential new home. There’s value in eliminating those who are not really interested in purchasing or renting a home. This ensures only serious inquiries actually move forward in the process, allowing both the prospect and the owner/operator to eliminate wasted time.

Another benefit to virtual tours is the share-ability. Users can see a property in a different city or state before they move. Furthermore, it’s easy for prospects to share a virtual tour video link with friends, roommates or family members. This provides guidance for the potential renter or buyer by having their loved ones weigh in on the decision making process.

Self-Guided Tours Use Cases

According to research on the real estate market, approximately 18% of prospects book some type of property tour. 76% of those that tour will choose a self-guided tour over an agent-led tour. It’s important for owners and operators to acknowledge that prospects enjoy the privacy and convenience that self-guided tours can provide.

Since implementing our self-guided tours solution, Cortland properties saw a 39% rate of return on tours-to-leases. Self-guided tours are a great investment that show real ROI in a short amount of time.

In a day and age where we are constantly being torn in different directions and our attention is divided, it’s important to allow prospects to make their own decisions about when and how they tour a future home. After all, it may be their first impression of the community - and showing them that your property is flexible and cares about their needs leaves a positive lasting impression. One that has proven it can truly increase the amount of apartment leases and home sales.

Interested? Learn more about our self-guided tour solution for multifamily and single family properties or find a property using self-guided tours: Provenza Plum Creek & Cortland Properties.