Video home tours are not new in real estate, but the current COVID-19 health crisis is driving an increase in these digital tours, according to Mike Swinney, a Northern Virginia-based realtor. Swinney has more than 12 years’ experience selling homes in one of the hottest housing markets in the nation. Swinney estimates a 50 percent volume increase in digital tours in recent weeks. While the growth may largely be attributed to health concerns, many experts in the housing industry predict the uptick in digital tours will remain when the crisis wanes.
According to Realtor Magazine, there’s not only been an uptick in video tours, but the tours themselves are becoming more elaborate, often guided by realtors and featuring expanding 3-D imagery. Redfin also reports an increase in video tours of as much as 494 percent in recent weeks. Swinney says that buyers appreciate the convenience and practicality of video as a means to evaluate multiple properties quickly.
“Whether it’s a new build or an existing home, my clients want the option to have a guided video tour with their agent. I’ve conducted as many as six video tours in a single day, and buyers are definitely engaged when they’re looking at these properties,” Swinney notes.
Looks Great, But How Does It Perform?
Despite the recent decline in the U.S. economy and the resulting increase in unemployment, Swinney says the Northern Virginia real estate market is still strong, with deals that move quickly. Video tours help him keep pace with the swift market. “I just recently showed a home at 10 a.m. with a video tour and scheduled a 6 p.m. appointment for a walkthrough,” he said. “These buyers are motivated and will move quickly.” The realtor noted that new home sales centers and private owners are also increasing cleaning routines, and staggering appointments to enhance safety during physical tours.
When the initial video tour is scheduled, Swinney says he uses that opportunity to point out home features that buyers won’t necessarily notice among the bright, shiny things, but will matter in the long run. “I use this time to point out things like new, energy-efficient windows and an enhance building envelope. These things will help buyers keep the cost of heating and cooling the home to reasonable levels,” he said.
The Housing Market Still Has Steam, Despite Uncertainty
Swinney said he has not yet seen a decrease in interest among buyers. Moreover, buyers haven’t changed their budgets at all.
“While things can change, in recent weeks, I haven’t seen a dramatic decline. This continues to be a really solid housing market,” the realtor noted. “Three weeks ago, I had 18 offers on a single unit, and nobody was sensitive to price. As economic conditions change, there may be an impact on sales, but at this point, there hasn’t been a discernable difference.”
Offer More Info as Video Use Expands
The convenience and safety of video tours offer a win-win combination to buyers, builders, and realtors navigating today’s housing market. As more and more consumers opt for digital platforms to facilitate tours, Swinney says information about the home’s unseen, but beneficial features can assist buyers as they make the all-important purchasing decision
“Inventory is very tight, and choices in some cases are limited. Providing useful information is key to help buyers narrow down their choices.”
The irresistible appeal of convenience and safety will make video tours popular long into the future.