Virtual tours: the right way to view houses amid COVID-19
In these trying times, when the real estate industry is at a standstill, professionals all over the world are shifting their focus on digital tools and virtual tours. A recent study published by Zillow, for example, shows that the number of created tours in the last week of March “jumped more than five times (+408%) from a typical week in February.” Even before the pandemic outbreak, listings with a tour sold on average 10% faster. Redfin noticed a “494% increase in requests for agent-led video home tours [in the second week of March], as homebuyers began relying heavily on virtual viewings amid the coronavirus outbreak.” The future of real estate is here, but are we ready for it?
Real estate goes digital
With social distancing being the new norm, people are adjusting their lifestyle, and that has a considerable impact on how they tour homes, too. Getting the right information is no longer about open houses or face to face meetings with realtors, but rather about digital experiences. As agents carve new online ways to finish transactions and create scenarios for future sales, so do professional photographers and prospective buyers. Everybody needs to adapt, evolve, and pivot. In this context, digital walkarounds have become a staple of home buying and selling, with significant advantages for either side.
Technical stuff and more
A virtual tour takes people around the property without any interference, gives instant access to a multitude of information, and full control over what they want to view next. It’s a collection of still images, video, sound, and 360-degree panoramas “stitched” together to create a high-quality experience of the location. With the help of hotspots, which every respectable tour offers, visitors can navigate from one panorama to the other and watch the story of the house unfold in front of their eyes. An excellent virtual tour should also be able to integrate:
- Docs and attachments
- Traffic seller’s reports
- Extended property details
- White labeling
- Multiple photo galleries, and
- 4 k videos in one full package.
Usually, they do not require extensive computer knowledge and are easy to create by real estate agents and photographers alike.
How does a virtual tour help?
Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, technology is doing the heavy lifting. While many businesses operate remotely, they have been relying on emails, social media, and online presence to emulate in-person communications. And, when it comes to real estate, what better way to do that than with the help of virtual tours. Property listings using 360⁰ tours provide an interactive, immersive, and fun experience for homebuyers without having them to leave the house. More importantly, viewers can access the information 24/7 from any corner of the world. Also, digital tours save time and money and can relieve a part of the financial burden that many estate companies are feeling right now.
In the end
Although we’re still battling this invisible enemy on all fronts, there should be an end to this horrid situation. If there is one thing that we can all take out of this new Spanish flu situation is that things are going to change. Technology will continue to evolve and force the real estate industry to embrace an alternative way of doing business. Digitization, virtual tours, websites, and social media – they all are big players in this game. So, are we ready for the future? There’s no way around it: we must be.
Julia E. Miller
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