When you have so many people starting their search for homes on line it’s hard to point to one single element and say, “this is the best way to market online.” But however you slice it, having listings in many places on the internet leads to more buzz about you as a social marketer savvy with the “in-crowd.” For real estate it’s especially critical because your next buyer could very well be a Facebook realtor friend who has a client looking for just the right property.

The days of the virtual open house 24/365 have arrived. It is a proven fact that video keeps someone on your page 200% longer than a page with just pictures and description. It’s more than a coincidence that physical and virtual open houses have merged. As high speed internet has become more readily available in urban areas whole generations have discovered that it’s more efficient to google anything they need than to reach for a phone book or a phone number.

As the housing market restabilizes, sellers will be looking for agents that can take their home into the new marketing millennium. Over the last several years companies have positioned their versions of an MLS often skimming data from local MLS directories to build out their inventories. Information has not been uniform or complete and restricted to the format of each database. Trulia and Zillow are perfect examples of sites that pick up pieces from local databases in an effort to build out real estate directories. NAR has announced that in 2010 they will launch a National data base of all properties in the US.

In any case, whether it be the local MLS, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia or other home databases, virtual tours or home videos have become an integral component of the listing. Most if not all MLS databases accept video flash files along with pictures. If you have not yet started using virtual tours in your marketing… no need to worry. Most agents are just coming into the notion of creating a tour to include with each listing. Often companies sell annual memberships to self platforms allowing agents to import their own pictures and create their own virtual tour. While this is viable for some agents, for others it is just asking agents to learn yet another set of skills, taking them away from time they could be showing property or marketing new listings.

Let’s face it, virtual tours should be quick, effective, readily available and inexpensive. Quick means 24 hour turn-around time. Effective means the video, pictures, music, titles and transitions should hit viewers at an emotional level leaving them wanting to see more. Readily available doesn’t have to be local as long as the tour provider offers FTP service for you to send them the folder with your pictures. Inexpensive means under $100. Under $50 is even better.

So to recap, you should be able to pay $50 and email a folder with your pics to a company that will create a customized virtual tour and send it back within 24 hours for placement on your MLS and other sites. Want to learn where to place the virtual tours once they appear in your in-folder? Then read our last blog “Where to Post Virtual Tours.”