For years now, virtual home tours have helped real estate buyers find the perfect home. Whether you’re relocating to a new area, buying an investment property, or looking for a vacation home, this technology allows you to get an in-depth look at the listing from the comfort of your living room. For real estate agents, virtual tours have been a useful way to help buyers with their home search and to assist sellers in creatively marketing their listings. In fact, here at Sea & Ski Realty, virtual tours have been a part of our marketing plan since 2015!

Because of the pandemic, virtual home showing options have experienced a huge spike in popularity. One survey found that nearly 33% of recent home tour requests were for virtual tours, as compared to just 2% pre-pandemic. And it’s easy to see why.

Buyers want to quickly find their next home, one that may need to serve as their office, gym, and even classroom for months to come. And many sellers want to limit the number of strangers in their home, but still be able to reach enough potential buyers to get the best offer on their property.
Virtual home tours are very popular right now. In this post, we’ll discuss 5 things you should know about virtual real estate. Read on to learn how it can impact today’s home buyers and sellers. 

#1: Virtual Tours Have Evolved

A lot of real estate professionals had never used virtual tours before and were forced to quickly adapt when the pandemic struck. Creating innovative new ways to show homes while keeping our clients safe and socially distanced has become a necessity. Here are some terms you might come across as you explore homes with virtual tours.

‘Traditional’ virtual tours use 360° Photos, which are images that allow you to see all angles of space. These allow virtual tour viewers to look up, down, and all around the interior and exterior areas of a home. Using a software program, 360° photos can be stitched together to create a digital model that looks like a dollhouse. This is called a 3D Tour. Virtual Staging may also be available; the digital addition of furniture and décor to rooms, helping buyers visualize how a space might be used.

Traditional virtual tours allow you to click to move throughout the home, but Online Walkthroughs feature the actual action of walking around. These are created by holding a camera or smartphone and simply moving through the home. 

Online Walkthroughs can be filmed in advance or happen live. If they are live, they can also be referred to as Virtual Showings or Online Open Houses. A Virtual Showing is often a scheduled, one-on-one event that mimics an in-person tour of the home, in which the agent and viewer start at the exterior and move their way through the property. If your agent offers to FaceTime or Skype you from a home you’re interested in, for example, that would be a type of Virtual Showing. In contrast, an Online Open House is more freeform, allowing more viewers to pop in and out of a group video call on apps such as Facebook or Zoom, often with an opportunity for participants to ask questions or request a look at a specific area.

 

 

 

 

#2: Virtual Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

All these styles of virtual tours showcase the property’s details better than photos alone ever could. But for a purchase as important as your next home, details like a new refrigerator or the size of the master closet aren’t the only deciding factors. Luckily, virtual tours are exceptional tools for personal connection.
As a prospective buyer, virtual tours give you a feel for the property, inside and out, so you can easily picture yourself in the space and decide if the home’s flow and features work for your lifestyle. Some, like Matterport, allow the viewer to take measurements of spaces in the home, helping answer concerns about things like furniture placement. Live video walkthroughs with the real estate agent will give you insights on those crucial non-visual aspects, like creaky floors, super-fast internet speed, and neighborhood dynamics. Plus, you’ll be able to ask questions and get an insider’s perspective on what’s so great about the home.
For sellers, using a virtual tour to market your home could attract more buyers. You can be sure that potential buyers get a good ‘look’ at your property, and it helps eliminate all but the most serious from making in-person showing appointments.

 

#3: Virtual Is Just the First Step to Safe Home Sales

Even as government restrictions began to ease in some areas, virtual tours were still recommended as a safer way to buy and sell real estate. Buyers don’t have to worry about exposure to anyone who previously visited the property, and sellers cut down on the foot traffic in their home. Some data even suggest that virtual tours keep agents safer as well since they’re hosting fewer in-person showings and open houses.

Despite the variety of virtual tours available, some buyers will still want to visit a home in person to feel confident enough to submit an offer. The listing agent and the seller(s) will have a procedure in place to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable. These may include scheduling showings by appointment only, having a buffer between appointments to reduce the risk of different groups coming into contact with each other, limiting the number of people attending the showing, and asking agents and their buyers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms.

At the time of the showing appointment, agents might ask buyers to stay in their vehicle until they arrive at the property and to wear protective gear such as face coverings and gloves. Many will provide hand sanitizer and will ask buyers not to touch any surfaces in the home. Instead, the agent (or seller, prior to the buyers’ arrival) will turn on lights, open doors, and pull back curtains. Then, after everyone has left, the agent will return the home to its original state and disinfect it as needed.

 

#4: The First Showing Happens On-line

Statistics show that 86% of buyers start their search online. In the past when virtual tour technology was a little more primitive, buyers would have to physically schedule a viewing for the property to find out if it was appealing to them or not. Nowadays with the modernization of technology and real estate, Buyers have their first “showing” of your property from the privacy and comfort of their own homes via photos, slideshows, and virtual tours. This allows them to narrow down their search from many properties to just a few that interest them enough to book the appointments to see them in person which would now be considered a second showing.

Though maybe not literally, virtual tours are opening doors for both buyers and sellers in terms of options available to them. In 2019, buyers viewed an average of 10 homes over a period of 10 weeks before submitting an offer. Thanks to the increased popularity of virtual tours, they’re able to look at a larger number of homes in a much shorter period to narrow down their options, making in-person appointments to see only their final choices.

With all this viewing activity, it makes sense that sellers whose listings feature virtual tours are receiving more offers on their properties. According to one study, virtual tours can add between two and three percent to the sales price of a home, in part because increased buyer interest has made sellers feel confident waiting for the exact right offer.

If you’re a buyer viewing homes from your couch, remember that you’re not alone in your search. Your competition is virtually viewing the same properties you are, so it’s still important to work with your real estate agent to act quickly when you find the home of your dreams. And for sellers, if a speedy sale is important to you, carefully weigh that against the temptation to entertain more and more offers, which can keep your home on the market up to six percent longer. Your agent can help you decide the right strategy for your priorities.

 

 

 

 

#5: Virtual May Not Always Be Available

Creating, editing, uploading, and marketing virtual tours for a listing can be pricey. Packages through popular 3D imaging platforms like Matterport and Immoviewers can cost hundreds of dollars. Even seemingly inexpensive options like video call walkthroughs still require time and energy on behalf of both the seller and agent.

Because of these costs, some agents may pick and choose which homes to showcase, believing that an elaborate virtual tour, showing, and open house just doesn’t make sense, or that there are more effective ways to get your listing seen by qualified buyers.

At Sea & Ski Realty, we believe that every property deserves to be in the spotlight. Our Marketing Team uses Matterport technology to create a 3D interactive showcase of every home we list. It’s just one piece of our extensive marketing plan.

As a buyer, you may notice that some listings don’t offer virtual tours. It could be that the sellers and their agent decided they didn’t need a full virtual marketing package to entice buyers or decided that those homes are better marketed through more traditional tactics. Don’t close the door on your dream home because it doesn’t have virtual events and features. Sea & Ski Team is ready to help you find home options that fit your lifestyle, needs, and budget.

 

 

ARE VIRTUAL HOME TOURS IN YOUR FUTURE?

As technology develops, it will become easier and cheaper to create virtual tours. Coupled with the high demand for them, this means that virtual tour options are likely not only here to stay but will continue to grow into a common addition to listings.

If buying or selling a home is on your mind, we’d be happy to discuss how virtual tours can play a part in your real estate experience. Reach out to Sea & Ski today for help finding local homes for sale, or to chat about how our interactive 3D virtual tours can help get your home sold.

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Rocket Mortgage – https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/evolution-of-home-showings-during-covid-19
  2. Radio Iowa – https://www.radioiowa.com/2020/07/28/trying-to-sell-a-house-ui-study-finds-virtual-tours-will-bring-more/
  3. NAR Showing Guidance During Reopening – https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/Showing-Guidance-During-COVID-05-14-2020.pdf
  4. NAR 2020 Member Safety Report – https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-member-safety-report-08-31-2020.pdf
  5. NAR 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers-highlights-11-21-2019.pdf

Realtor.com – https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-to-host-virtual-home-tours-almost-as-good-as-the-real-thing/