Live vs. virtual: What’s the difference?

As a communications advisor, I know how important word choice is.

For example, while old and obsolete are synonyms, I wouldn’t call my boss obsolete. (If I want to keep my job, I better not call him old, either.)

These words have similar meanings but can’t always be substituted for one another. It comes down to nuances in their definitions.

Some words are often confused for one another because they are akin. For example, contagious and infectious, continuous and continual, knowledge and wisdom—these words are related, but have different meanings and should not be used interchangeably.

Why am I boring you with a vocabulary lesson?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate professionals have had to adapt to the guidelines set out by public health officials. As such, most of your business has turned digital, rather than face-to-face.

Many real estate professionals have embraced technology during this time, recording tours and streaming open houses. But there has been some confusion over what we should call these videos.

Are they “virtual” or “live”? What’s the difference?

The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) gathered feedback from the industry in order to create standardized definitions.

Virtual tour: a pre-recorded or pre-existing, static digital exposure of a property. This includes pre-recorded video tours, 360-degree panoramic images, 3D digital tours, and pre-recorded showings available for playback.

Live stream open house: a real-time interactive digital open house at a scheduled time where an agent can communicate with potential buyers via a live video service. 

While REALTORS® can use both mediums on their REALTOR.ca listings, it’s important to distinguish between the two. Prospective home buyers who want to attend a live stream open house shouldn’t be sent a pre-recorded virtual tour. The confusion could leave them disappointed.

Therefore, you’re not hosting a live tour or a virtual open house.

Some popular platforms to host a live stream event include:

  • Facebook Live
  • Zoom
  • Google Meets
  • Microsoft Teams
  • YouTube Live
  • GoToMeeting
  • Skype

REALTOR.ca supports 10 virtual tour and video providers including:

  • Matterport
  • YouTube
  • iStaging
  • immoviewer
  • iGuide
  • Property Panorama
  • Real Vision
  • Vimeo
  • Imagemaker360
  • ListSimple

How are you using virtual tours or live stream in your business? Tell us in the Comments.

Sarah Doktor brings her experience as a small-town journalist and national online editor to the Canadian Real Estate Association as a Communications Advisor. Sarah helps facilitate conversations between CREA and our members, boards, associations and the public via our online communities. She also helps coordinate the content presented to you here on the CREA Café. In her spare time, Sarah can be found at the gym, running on a trail or watching Netflix with her cat, Libby.


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