The coronavirus pandemic has changed every aspect of life: how we work, go to school and socialize with friends and family. Buying and selling a home is no exception.
Searching for a home online isn’t new -- people have been looking at listing photos, videos and 3-D tours for years. However, for most people it was considered a starting point, a way to narrow the number of homes you ultimately visited. That all changed in mid-March as sweeping stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines limited people’s activities.
In some areas throughout the U.S. open houses were prohibited. In areas were they weren’t, both buyers and agents had concerns about meeting face-to-face and sellers became nervous about opening their doors to strangers whether they were would-be buyers, appraisers or home inspectors.
Over the past several months, video and virtual home tours have become the new normal -- allowing agents to connect with their clients from the safety of their homes. Even as many states begin to relax their stay at home orders, many real estate professionals believe that the process of buying and selling a home has forever changed. Video will play a larger role in not just viewing properties but also when it comes to personal branding and building client trust.
As virtual showings become the norm, the video itself will be more important than ever. To figure out what kind of video is best for your situation, first decide what you want the video to accomplish.
It sounds obvious but is often overlooked. Is the purpose of the video to attract attention or is it to build a relationship with the buyer? Drone videos, professionally produced tour videos, and virtual “street view” interior tours from Matterport are great choices for lead generation on listing platforms. The sizzle, and perhaps some bucks for featured promotion, will get you noticed and attract more leads.
Once you’ve engaged the buyer, videos that convey authenticity and transparency rule the day. They allow you to build trust remotely when you cannot meet in person. Live video tours are a great option when the property is unoccupied and visiting is easy. If access is restricted, the iOS app yaza is your best bet. With yaza, you record the tour just once, post it at the property, and then share it with multiple buyers in the app, each of whom can discuss it with you separately in chat. As a founder of yaza I’m a little biased, so check it out yourself at yaza.io
Rather than hiring a production company, shoot and narrate the video yourself. This way people are seeing what they’d see during an in-person tour. You should share insights and ideas you would normally share. Point out the bathroom that’s recently been remodeled or your idea for tearing down the wall between the kitchen and family room. Mention the park across the street or the walkability of the neighborhood. Narrate videos of those as well. Your knowledge and insights are what buyers are looking for, and it’s why they choose to work with an agent rather than go it alone.
The more of a granular and personal tour experience you can deliver, the more value you’ll deliver to potential buyers. While most people aren’t going to buy a house sight unseen, they will appreciate a video that provides the same experience as an in-person tour. Imagine your camera is the buyer, and show it around like you would a friend. Follow the buyer’s eye as you point out things, open drawers, look into closets, turn on the shower. Show them the basement, the bathroom fixtures that may need to be replaced, the window that overlooks the backyard. People will appreciate your transparency. This is especially true of millennials who rely on video to learn and make informed decisions.
Video is more than just a way to show house tours. You can use video to stand in for yourself in ways that may surprise you. Contractors can check by sharing videos of what was done each day. You could ask a seller to record a quick video that will answer a buyer’s question. Video can even be used to document appraisals and inspections if the videos can be authenticated and time-stamped.
With social distancing forcing a broad acceptance of video as a stand-in for face-to-face meetings, real estate professionals have a rare opportunity to get others they work with to adopt video into their workflows, saving everyone time and money. Normally, old habits die hard, and getting everyone you work with to embrace video would have taken years. Now they don’t have a choice, and those behaviors will last long past the discovery of a vaccine. Now is the time to go hard on video. The pandemic taught us that consumers like the convenience of viewing homes virtually -- at least as a way to narrow down the homes they want to visit. It’s about convenience as much as safety, and it’s something they will demand.