4 Tips for Real Estate Agents to Optimize Virtual Home Tours During COVID-19

September 29, 2020
Peter Sisson

With the COVID-19 pandemic demanding social distancing and sheltering-in-place around the globe, virtual home tours have become the new normal for real estate professionals and their clients. There is no shortage of virtual video vendors for agents and brokerages to choose from. Matterport and Zoom are well known, and Facetime has been popular for narrated one-on-one tours for remote buyers. 

That said, real estate is a relationship business and agents need to find ways to gain client trust in an era where in-person meetings present challenges. The coronavirus accelerated mainstream adoption of video as a substitute for face-to-face meetings. It’s a safe bet that when this crisis is behind us, consumers will expect video to be an option throughout the sale process.

Buyers are demanding less gloss and more authenticity when it comes to virtual video tours. This is especially important as they narrow their search. Professional photos, drone videos, and 3D Matterport tours are great for attracting the masses, but turning someone who is looking into a serious buyer requires more. This is especially true when social distancing rules restrict in-person meetings.  New tools like Yaza, an iOS app from the company I founded, are gaining awareness as people seek better ways to engage buyers.

“Because buyers cannot safely view a property in person they are looking for more than just sparkly, highly produced videos. They want to see what’s in the basement, how the faucets work, and what’s under the sink. They want ideas for improvements, information about the school district, the measurements of a kitchen counter.  You need to narrate tours to provide as much information as possible, and have a way to quickly answer questions that arise as they watch your tours on their phones."

- Mariana Pappaidaro - Real estate broker, Sothebys Golden Gate SF

Videos need context to be an effective substitute, and the location is the key.  Buyers want to know exactly where the house is on a map to be able to research the neighborhood and surrounding community. They want to know if the video is recent or not. And they want to easily find, share and discuss what’s in your videos to make their buying decision.  This is especially true of millennial buyers who want transparency and are familiar with using video to learn and make decisions.  

With this in mind, here are four essential elements required to create virtual video tours that meet the needs of buyers.

1.  Personality

Your videos should include personal narration in a relaxed, conversational tone. This is your opportunity to showcase your insights and ideas as you would during an in-person tour. The more your personality comes through, the more genuine you will appear. Whether it’s to point out unique features or talk about area schools, these conversations are how sales are made. It’s essential they are part of any remote showing tool. 

2. Transparency

No property is perfect. They come with downsides and upsides for each buyer. To build trust and prevent buyer disappointment the agent must show the flaws as well. Use a video platform that allows you to show the good and the bad with candor.

3. Authenticity

Keep the style of your videos raw and conversational. Highly produced videos with fisheye views and scripted narration may attract leads, but they don’t close sales. Also, give the buyer context by providing an in-video map location similar to Google Maps. If possible, provide a date and time stamp for each video so the buyer knows what they are seeing is current and real. 

4. Simplicity

As buyers and realtors work through the decision process they want to be able to easily find, review and share videos of properties they’re interested in. This can be a challenge.  Sharing big video files via text or email is cumbersome, especially from mobile phones. Keeping track of which videos go with which property, who they’ve been shared with, and who watched them is time-consuming, but essential to building trust and confidence with buyers. 

Real estate professionals who create virtual tour videos with these elements in mind will have an easier time keeping buyers engaged, especially in the era of social distancing.