With Covid it's become much harder for people to go and see the real estate they're considering. Even before covid hit if someone were moving to a new city then it could be inconvenient to travel to see properties, just to realize you didn't like any of them anyway. With camera and computer tech having come so far and Google pioneering 360 viewing technology, it was only a matter of time before listings started adding virtual tours to the list of must-haves for selling a property.
For those who don't know exactly what a virtual tour is, it's the same as 360 street view, except inside of a house or apartment. You click between rooms and can move the camera's view around to see the whole inside of each room, as if you were standing there yourself.
I looked at a virtual tour when I chose my current apartment in Washington DC, and without it I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable signing a lease. There were photos as well, but they just didn't give me quite as comprehensive a picture as the virtual tour. When I got to the apartment, I was thrilled to find that the virtual tour hadn't lied: the proportions and layout were just as they seemed online.
The way the actual tour is shot is really cool, there's actually several ways to do it. Since I already have a professional DSLR I didn't want to get a 360 cam, so instead I got a fisheye lens and a rotator for my tripod. To create one 'slide' in the tour, 5 photos are stitched together. Using the markers on the tripod you alight it first to 90 degrees, then 180, 270 and finally 360, spinning the camera around so that every angle of the room is covered. Finally I take the tripod off the mount and shoot the ceiling, completing the image.
Maybe not every apartment in Washington DC deserves a virtual tour, but it does give a good idea of what a place looks like to prospective buyers.