When COVID-19 first hit, the real estate industry went from white-hot to ice cold. Deals were still going through, but nobody was seeing new properties. This quickly became a problem for buyers, sellers, and agents. But thanks to evolving technology, virtual tours have stepped in to fill the void. And as we move forward into what is (hopefully) a post-COVID world, many of these technologies will continue to be leveraged.
The Innovation Behind Virtual Tours
As Realtor.com explains, “Virtual tours offer home buyers a remote, video-enabled walk-through of a property that will give them the sensation that they’re actually there—or at least darn close.”
While different listing agents and sellers use different technologies, live streaming is one of the more common options. This can be as rudimentary as the buyer’s agent walking around with a smartphone and showing the property on a room-by-room basis. Or it can be as sophisticated as hiring a company to come in and show the property with professional equipment and interactive interfaces.
Most people prefer the first option, as it allows them to see the property as it is. There’s something about the raw footage that gives buyers a genuine look at what to expect. (Professionally edited footage can come across as too glamorous and not authentic enough to make an informed buying decision.)
Over the past few months, virtual tours have gone from an option that was only used by a very small subcategory of buyers – like out of town investors or busy professionals who were relocating and needed to select a home prior to moving – to the preferred option for millions of prospective buyers and sellers.
3D Listings and VR Walkthrough Experiences
While buyers typically want a virtual showing when they’re interested in seeing a specific property, there’s also something to be said for 3D listings and virtual walkthrough experiences. These options are typically used to draw potential buyers in and convince them to schedule a showing.
Perhaps you’ve seen 3D listings before. They allow you to click and drag images on your computer screen (or use the directional arrows on your keyboard) to move through a room, look around, and see the exact floorplan/layout. It’s very similar to Google Street View technology.
Major home listing websites like Zillow and Trulia have even started integrating 3D technology into their listings. 3D Home is one of the leaders in this space.
“If you use the 3D Home app, your listing on Zillow and Trulia will have a specific virtual tour icon, which helps your listing stand out to online home shoppers,” Zillow explains.
“Plus, properties with 3D tours benefit from a week of increased exposure to shoppers. Your virtual tour appears right on your home’s page on Zillow and Trulia, but you can also share it on other sites using a link or an embed code.”
More recently, architects and designers have taken things to the next level by using cutting edge technology and software, like Lumion, to create virtual reality (VR) walkthrough experiences. So instead of using a computer and keyboard, people can actually put on a VR headset and experience the room by physically walking and looking around.
This latter technology has a lot of potentials when it comes to new construction. Whether it’s custom homes or spec houses, VR tours streamline the interactions between buyers and builders like never before. This results in less friction and more transparency.
The Future of Real Estate Tours and Showings
While in-person showings have resumed in most parts of the country, it’s likely that virtual showings and walkthroughs will still be a popular option moving forward. And they offer attractive benefits for both buyers and sellers.
For buyers, these showings are efficient and convenient. Busy buyers can see properties without having to ever leave their sofa. Then, based on these virtual tours, they can whittle their list of potential properties down to the one or two that they want to see in person.
For sellers, virtual tours are convenient. They eliminate the foot traffic in their homes, while simultaneously giving them more control over appearances. It’s also possible that, in the future, virtual showings could increase the number of prospective buyers that sellers are able to engage with.