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Virtual Showings and Open Houses: Before, During and After COVID-19

February 15 2021

delta virtual before during after covid 1When the coronavirus hit, real estate faced a turning point.

The pandemic created challenges for everyone--none of them particularly easy. In the real estate industry, old ways of doing business became outdated overnight. Just consider the average day: Until March, sales associates spent hours on face-to-face contact. A home showing was the centerpiece of most transactions.

In those first weeks of shelter-in-place, millions of real estate experts came together to find new ways of doing things, knowing their professional community depended on it. Virtual showings and open houses are emblematic of that effort. They've become some of the most popular real estate marketing tools.

Let's take a closer look at virtual showings and open houses and how this technology shapes the future of the real estate industry.

Virtual Tours Were Gaining Steam Before COVID-19

Virtual tours were already becoming popular before they became a necessity. By using video, they allowed sales associates to overcome the limitations of still photos and showcase a home's "flow."

As early as 2019, 46% of consumers in a National Association of REALTORS® survey said that virtual tours were beneficial when choosing a home. Virtual tour capabilities showed up in more and more listings in Q1 2020, and further research was being conducted on buyer sentiment.

In April, 24% of consumers surveyed said they would be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person. What's more, 61% said a virtual tour was the most valuable feature for buying a house without visiting it.

Technology has evolved, and best practices have become more apparent since then. Although new statistics are still pending, the odds are good that buyers and sellers alike are more comfortable with virtual tours than they used to be. After all, almost no one had heard of Zoom in 2018—now we all use it.

Which leads to an important point.

The Longer the Pandemic Lasts, the More Traction Virtual Showings Will Gain

With the pandemic timeline growing murky, virtual showings look less like a "pivot" and more like "the new normal." Embracing them can create great opportunities for buyers, sellers, and sales associates.

Just as buyers learned to look at home listings online––about 44% look online first, according to NAR––they will start looking for virtual tour options to answer their questions about what a home has to offer.

Most Americans are counting on a vaccine to restore normalcy in the current year. But even so, it might be several months before it has been deployed to everyone who wants it. With that in mind, many buyers and sellers will continue to take precautions well into 2021.

By that time, virtual tours could become a must-have––as indispensable to tomorrow's listings as photos are today. And once things are back to normal, they'll quickly lose all association with the pandemic, too.

delta virtual before during after covid 2

Master Virtual Showings and Virtual Open Houses

If you haven't learned the ins and outs of virtual showings, it's not too late!

One challenge sales associates face is sorting through the profusion of new video platforms, all claiming to offer real estate-friendly features. At Delta Media Group, DeltaNET™️ 6 CRM users can quickly set up and lead a virtual tour from any mobile device using our streamlined, centralized digital marketing platform.

But no matter what platform you decide to use, some essentials remain the same.

Learn Your Equipment Inside and Out

Most sales associates will do their virtual open houses right from their smartphone or tablet. Today's mobile devices provide crisp video and clear audio comparable to any digital video camera—but take the time to get comfortable with your hardware and software.

Since you'll spend most of the tour behind the camera, be sure you know exactly where the microphone is so you can be heard clearly. Likewise, learn how to save your video stream as a portable file you can send to buyers for later review. The more they think about a home, the better!

And before you get started, clean off your lens and mute all incoming calls, alarms, and notifications.

Prepare (and Yes, Stage!) the Property First

You won't need fresh-baked cookies, but you should still put your home-staging skills to work!

Almost every staging technique you've picked up along the way still applies in a virtual tour:

  • Take advantage of natural light by opening up curtains and rolling up blinds
  • Tidy up the rooms, removing clutter, and making the space easy to navigate
  • Encourage sellers to remove half of the items in closets so they'll appear bigger
  • Remove or downplay distracting furniture, art, or other decorative touches

These steps are crucial since they can make the home more spacious and welcoming—traits that aren't always easy to capture on camera. But they also have the practical effect of helping you master the home's layout and review any stand-out features you want to highlight.

Point Out What's Easy to Overlook in Still Photos

The best virtual tours show not only the home but its whole context. Begin your tours outside with a brief overview of the neighborhood. Then, show the exterior before finally moving inside for the room-by-room guided tour. Your goal once inside is to give a strong sense of the home's layout.

Schedule more time for your virtual tour than you think you'll need. This way, you can take your time, which will naturally set buyers at ease. Open the doors to closets, pantries, and utility rooms. Give your audience shots from plenty of different angles so they can imagine a life in this space!

Move the camera slowly, lavishing attention on the fixtures, floors, and finishes. This is where preparation pays off: You should describe the home's unique features just as you would if buyers were there with you.

delta virtual before during after covid 3

Take Questions as You Go

Another reason to take your time: Indulge buyers' curiosity!

Questions show the buyers' imagination at work. The more answers you can offer, the more it will stoke their interest. If you can't answer a question at the moment, don't let it trip you up: You can always look into it and send a quick video for them to look at later. This way, your response becomes an extension of the tour experience––and you can recap with highlights of the property you know they enjoyed.

Don't Get Stressed Out

See virtual tours as a chance to have fun, learn more about buyers, and build rapport. Just as they would in a face-to-face showing, they'll take cues from the energy you bring in. There is a learning curve, but most people aren't looking for Hollywood videography as long as you're willing to focus on what they want to see. Running a virtual showing will be just as easy as doing a regular video call before you know it.

Virtual open houses and showings have plenty of benefits that won't go away when COVID does. They're convenient, cut down on travel time, and encourage buyers to take action. Getting comfortable with these virtual events now is time well spent. They're here to stay, and your clients will thank you.

Set up and lead virtual tours with DeltaNET 6. RE Technology readers can try it FREE for 30 days.

To view the original article, visit the Delta Media Group blog.