One of the things you can do to extend outstanding service to your Realtor clients is offer to submit your virtual tour links to Realtor.com for them. Although it's not as prominent today as it was in the past, Realtor.com labels listings with a Tour link to let buyers know additional content is available for them to view.
In my experience, the majority of agents that I work with like to hand off all of the technical aspects of being a Realtor to someone else. They either aren't comfortable in doing it or they just want it off their plate so they can focus on their business. By becoming an approved tour provider with Realtor.com, you will be able to submit your tour links to active listings so your agents don't have to do it themselves. A lot of agents will tell sellers that their property will be getting exposure through sites like Realtor.com so for some it's important that the tour link be submitted.
The agents that I work with that want their tour links submitted to Realtor.com all have what's called a Showcase Agent package through Realtor.com. They pay a certain fee to Realtor.com and they gain access to various premium features. One of those features is the ability to submit tour links to their listings for free. If an agent does not have the Showcase Agent service, it costs $19.95 to submit the tour link to the listing.
The payment to Realtor.com is the responsibility of the person who is submitting the tour link into the system. So if you are handling the submittal process for your agents, you'll be responsible to pay the $19.95 for any agent that isn't a Showcase Agent. When we go over the documentation below we'll take a look at this in more detail. There is no fee to be a tour provider, so you won't ever pay Realtor.com unless you submit a tour link for a listing where the agent is not a Showcase Agent.
It's a little confusing, but the tour link submission process is actually handled by a company called Picture Path. You won't be going to Realtor.com to submit your tour links. Instead you'll access a website provided by Picture Path.
It's a simple process to get approved to submit tour links to Realtor.com on behalf of your agents. When I went looking through my emails to see how I did it, I couldn't find any initial requests that I had sent them. The only thing I could find was an email from them with the documents that needed to be completed for approval. I gave them a call to verify, and they stated the first step should be:
Tell them you are a real estate photographer who would like to be an approved tour provider for agent listings, so you would like to request the documentation to become a Picture Path partner. Provide your contact name, business name, email and phone number.
They should respond with the documentation that you'll need to complete:
- The agreement form
- Instructions for completing the agreement form
- Ad Guidelines on what content is acceptable in the tour links
- Credit Card Authorization Form
- Rate Card that shows discounted tour submittals if you submit high volume for non-showcase agent Realtors
Submitting the Agreement Form
You'll need to fill out a couple of items on the agreement form. At the top under Parties, fill out the information under the ('Company') section. Leave the ('MSI') section blank, and DO NOT fill a date in for Agreement Effective Date. For the section that asks Please indicate if paying by Credit Card, circle NO. You can find out more in the instructions document, but by selecting no, you are telling Picture Path to send you a monthly invoice for tour links that you have submitted that result in a charge. I have not had an agent submit a tour link for $19.95, so I've never had to pay Picture Path. I would rather them bill me a separate invoice if needed, instead of giving them my credit card info to hold. This means you will NOT be filling out and submitting the Credit Card Authorization Form.
For the Sample Field (URL) line, write the full URL to one of your branded tour links. They need to verify you meet all of the requirements so you should show them a current tour. According to the instructions if you do not yet have a tour link available, you can just send them your main domain/URL to your website. But to be safe I would wait to submit the form until you have an active, online tour link for them to view.
Don't forget to look at the last page of the agreement. Sign your name for the By: line, and then print your name and title in the spaces provided under the Company section. Once the agreement form is completed, you'll fax it to them at the number provided in the instructions document and send the original to them via snail mail as well. (Print a copy for your own records.)
Submitting Tour Links to Realtor.com Listings
You'll receive a notice once your application is approved. It took about a week for me to hear back from Picture Path. They'll send you another copy of your agreement with the Agreement Effective Date populated, and they'll include instructions for submitting tour links.
In the approval email, they'll let you know your username and password that you will use to login to the Picture Path site (http://imaging.homestore.com/ppgui/upload/login.jsp). Once logged in, you'll click on Upload a Link – PicturePath Link. You'll need to provide the Property Address (Street, City, State, Country and Zip Code), and the active MLS# for the listing. If you don't know the MLS#, you'll need to get it from the agent once the listing is activated. I have also had agents send me active listings but Realtor.com doesn't have the listing syndicated yet so even though I enter the MLS#, Realtor.com says the listing is invalid. You just have to return later and try again if that happens.
Once you submit the correct info and Realtor.com finds a valid listing, it will tell you if the cost for submitting the link is going to be either $0.00, or $19.95. At this point if $19.95 is showing, you can either stop and contact the agent to ask if they would like to cover the cost of submitting the link, or if you know they are good with paying the cost, you can hit Next. The last screen has a box for the tour URL, and you simply copy/paste your tour link URL for the listing. Once submitted, you'll receive confirmation from Picture Path that the link was provided, and it will show up shortly on Realtor.com.
It's been over 3 years since I submitted my application to be an approved tour provider. Please let me know if any of the above steps are different from the process you end up going through today!