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Virtual Open House Tours: A Safe Alternative for Realtors During the COVID-19 Crisis

By Mihaela Lica Butler | April 14, 2020

Many countries around the world are in lockdown or under strict restrictions of movement. The COVID-19 crisis has hit many businesses hard. Among them, real estate experiences critical setbacks too.

interior home

According to NAR’s latest Economic Pulse Flash Survey, home buyer interest has decreased due to the coronavirus outbreak, and Capital Economics said that home sales would drop by around 35% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the end of 2019. Due to lockdown measures and social distancing, many realtors had to stop holding open houses and other in-person business practices.

In these conditions, real estate agents who still want to hold open houses and to communicate with potential buyers can use a variety of online tools for virtual house tours and 360° visual presentations – either video or photographic.

The Google Street View app, with its built-in 360-degree camera, is available for both iOS and Android and allows you to capture the world around you and publish it on Google Maps. You can use it to feature areas around properties and featured public attractions in any destination around the world.

Another app, P360 Business, allows businesses to create virtual tours, lead generation, and other tools to improve their customer reach. Virtual tours designed with P360 Business can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Other features include easy embed in any website, view tours in Virtual Reality, create hotspots and link panoramas on maps, flat fees, and cancel at any time.

Momento360 works with every camera and allows you to store 360° photos and videos all in one place, all from your browser, then create albums and virtual tours and share links to any platform.  

If you don’t want to download apps, you can simply use your smartphone camera to shoot videos. You can use free video editing software to give your productions a facelift, or use professional software to add special effects, music, subtitles, enhance quality, and much more. The easiest way to go, however, is broadcasting live – a feature available on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media networks. Virtual meeting platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting have also been employed successfully for online open houses. Other options may include Skype and WhatsApp.

There are several companies already presenting open house listings online during the coronavirus crisis and not only.

Virtual Open House offers a variety of packages either for Zillow listings and videos to upload on YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms. They only provide services for Florida’s Flagler, Volusia, and St. Johns counties.

open house

Lead verification software Kleard offers tools for self-guided tours of vacant homes. Another company, called FloorPlanOnline allows buyers and other interested parties to see the property layout before an actual site visit. With this tool, real estate agents or property owners can generate colored floor plans, and 3D photo renders for enhanced marketing or virtual staging.

Flexmls launched its Virtual Open Houses & Tours of Homes service at the end of March to enable agents to show a home virtually instead of in-person. Many companies will adapt to the new realities of the market using similar tools. We’ll keep you up to date as technology advances.

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Mihaela Lica Butler is senior partner at Pamil Visions PR. She is a widely cited authority on public relations issues, with an experience of over 25 years in online PR, marketing, and SEO.She covers startups, online marketing, social media, SEO, and other topics of interest for Realty Biz News.
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