Due to measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the move to remote working, shopping and even entertainment has been accelerated. Estate agents have also had to look at online alternatives to in-person open houses and property showings. Many people are already browsing for their new home online, so why not capitalize on that? In June, property portal OnTheMarket’s Commercial Director, Helen Whiteley, revealed that the site had found “users who engaged with a video were over 200 per cent more likely to send an enquiry”.
We’ll give you three great reasons to host your next open house online, the best tools to use and what to keep in mind to make your viewings a success.
Our top 3 benefits of virtual open houses for estate agents
1 . Video is an important marketing tool
People like to see what they are buying and often photos don’t do the property justice. Estate agents can record a tour of the house, highlighting features and detailing the benefits of living in the home.
Remember to mention or point out everything you would in a physical open house. Staff members of Simpson Dean recently went through selling and buying processes and implore estate agents to be honest. Show buyers the corners of rooms when filming a tour of the house so they can see if there are cracks. If you are honest about any problems in the house, you won’t waste buyers’ time and you’ll earn the right buyer’s respect.
You can add the video to the listing or send a link to prospective buyers. Buyers will be able to watch the video repeatedly, without the effort of having to visit the property multiple times. Alternatively, you can still make appointments and take prospective buyers on a personal video tour of the house.
2. Capture a wider audience (disabled, national & international buyers)
More people will be able to attend or view a virtual open house, because there won’t be space or time constraints limiting the number of attendees. Everyone will feel like they have had a personal tour and will be able to view the video multiple times. Disabled people will be able to view the property at their leisure and without any hassles pertaining to travelling or their special needs. You could also attract buyers from all corners of the country and even internationally, as they won’t have to invest the time or money to physically travel to the property. A 360˚ or virtual tour will give them the opportunity to see the property in more detail than otherwise possible.
3. It will save you time
Open Houses can take up a lot of your valuable time. As an estate agent, you may spend two or more hours per property per week waiting on clients. And if the showing is poor, you could feel discouraged and that you have wasted time better spent on attracting clients. For prospective clients, online open houses mean they won’t have to spend time in traffic or travel long distances. They can also ask questions in the comments section and get quick answers from you without being interrupted by other prospective buyers.
Tools to help Estate Agents host virtual open houses
This trusted video streaming platform also offers a live streaming feature. All you need to do is create an account (it’s free) and follow the directions. Your video will also be uploaded to your channel to enable users to view it whenever they want afterwards. A big benefit of this platform is that you can host multiple videos at the same time and buyers will be able to easily navigate between videos of the homes they are interested in.
Using this popular social network may gain you a few viewers that are not familiar with other types of streaming services. It is also quick and easy, providing you have enough data or access to wi-fi. Instead of doing a normal post, you just follow these 4 easy steps. Like Youtube, the video is stored as a post that your friends, page likes, or members can view at any time. Anyone viewing the video live will be able to comment in real time, giving you the opportunity to answer questions as they pop up.
Another very popular platform, Instagram enables you to not only post photos but also live stream. Once your live stream has ended, the video won’t be visible on the app unless you share a replay to IGTV.
Bespoke Estate Agent viewing tools
Many Real Estate companies have their own websites where estate agents can add photos, 360˚ images and videos to listings. Other companies like Virtual Tour Online and Virtual Tours Creator offer virtual tour software developed exclusively for estate agents.
What estate agents must consider if using virtual viewings
Firstly, you need to ensure that you have the right equipment and software for your needs. The videos need to be of good quality to entice buyers.
Also, keep in mind any legislative requirements and ensure that you do everything by the book. If you are using virtual tour software or companies, ensure that no images or parts of the video can be edited post-production. This excludes any editing pertaining to adding voice-overs and text (adding selling points or highlighting features). This will enable you to prove that the property was not misrepresented in the video.
Virtual viewings can put estate agents in a tricky spot if buyers are not happy. That is why it’s important to ensure that you mention all the relevant details that may influence their decision. You will need to point out any potential problems, renovation projects or unfinished renovations. Take extra photos of all the greatest features and possible problems and send them to clients upon enquiry to help them weigh their decision better.
Prospective buyers are also used to short videos and having control of their viewing. Don’t make videos overly long. Be concise, thorough and informative. If possible, use track marking. This will enable the viewers to skip straight to the part of the house they are most interested in like the kitchen or master bedroom.
When planning your first virtual viewing, it is advisable to do a test run first. You will be able to see how long the tour will be, what you need to remember to mention and plan the best route through the house is. Also, talk to mentors and fellow estate agents and find out what their experience with virtual viewing has been. That way you will be able to avoid any potential pitfalls. For more on the benefits of online or remote working, check out the other informative articles on the Simpson Dean blog.