Much of the real estate world moved online in 2020. With the outbreak of COVID-19, virtual showings became a popular way to allow buyers and renters to view a home without risking the exposure of in-person showings.
But what will happen when the world returns to normal after the pandemic? Are virtual showings here to stay? Several signs point to yes.
What Are Virtual Showings?
As the name implies, virtual showings are home tours conducted digitally. This allows buyers and renters to view a home without being physically present. "Virtual showing" is a general term that can include:
- Prerecorded video tours: An agent, property manager or owner will create a video walkthrough of the home and publish it online for prospective buyers and renters to view.
- 3D tours: Companies like Matterport capture a 3D render of the space so buyers and renters can click through a virtual environment at their leisure.
- Public live streams: An agent, property manager or investor will announce a date and time when they will be live-streaming a video tour. This typically takes place through a social media platform such as Facebook Live. Many virtual open houses are conducted via public live streams.
- One-on-one live streams: For a private showing in real time, buyers and renters can schedule a video call with the agent, property manager or owner. These calls typically take place via platforms like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype or Zoom.
The Benefits of Virtual Showings
During the pandemic, the primary benefit of virtual showings is that they limit person-to-person interaction. By reducing in-person encounters, we can help limit the spread of the hyper-contagious virus. Even with the vaccines beginning to roll out, experts expect these health measures will be necessary for quite a while.
But the benefits of virtual showings go beyond the pandemic. Consider some of these anytime advantages:
- Buyers and renters who live out of the area can easily view a property.
- Agents, property managers and owners can use prerecorded virtual showings to save time.
- Buyers and renters can view more properties in less time since they don’t need to travel between properties.
- There is less risk of property damage or theft for the owner.
- Prerecorded video tours can drive online traffic. With smart tools like PropStream, you can even funnel that traffic to a landing page where prospects can learn more about the property and schedule a one-on-one live stream.
Are Virtual Showings Here to Stay?
We already know that people look for real estate online. In fact, the 2020 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Report found that 97% of home buyers now use the internet to search for a home.
And the pandemic launched an immediate demand for more virtual showings. According to CNBC, Zillow reported a 191% increase in the creation of 3D home tours in the first weeks of March 2020, and Redfin saw a 494% increase in requests for video tours.
Virtual showings appear to have some staying power thanks to the convenience of viewing homes online compared to visiting them in person. According to the 2020 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, 42% of buyers list virtual tours as “very useful” features when buying a home. The previously mentioned NAR profile also found that 27% of home sellers used virtual tours after March 2020 (compared to 16% previously).
This has all the marks of a trend that could endure for years to come. So as you look to sell your listings in 2021 and beyond, don’t forget to add a virtual showing to your marketing plan.