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Builders Go Virtual

These days, some builders are finding that rather than doing expensive home tours, virtual model home tours can add a competitive advantage, especially as more and more homebuyers are turning to the Internet to search for homes.

A number of homebuilders are already finding virtual model tour videos can help drive home sales. Some builders are saying virtual home tours may help reduce the number of model homes needed. The online tours may also replace standard floor plans and elevations at the sales office.

Adam Hieb, director, sales and marketing, Shea Homes,, Walnut, Calif., says every Shea home community is different, but virtual model tours may help reduce the number of model homes needed. For example, instead of four models, the company might be able to use one and represent the remaining models in 3D.

Lennar Homes,, Miami, Fla., also finds virtual home tours a more affordable option, saying virtual model tours reduce the investment in model homes, and still provide a good sales tool. In fact, before the virtual tours, the company depended on floor plans and elevations at the sales office, but now the builder can give prospects a more visual representation of the home at the sales office.

Recently, Focus 360,, Laguna Niguel, Calif., introduced new virtual home tours for builders. With Focus 360 Value Line, residential construction companies can provide prospective buyers with online home tours.

While virtual model tours may not fully replace model home tours, the technology is helping some builders reduce the amount of model homes needed. For others, the technology is just a nice value-add in the sales office, offering prospective buyers a good illustration of the home.