Will buying property without stepping inside still happen after the pandemic? Pros and Cons…
15 or so months after the onslaught of the pandemic, we’ve seen how people, economies and industries have adapted, and in the effort to stay afloat, they’ve been willing to try new things or push the envelope when it comes to how things are done. Real estate has been no different; from videoconferencing to digitized transactions, the sector has seen agents and brokerages adopting various technologies and systems to stay connected with their audiences.
In light of state and nationwide lockdowns, and with people still wanting to buy homes, agents leveraged the power of the virtual tour as a solution to the inability to host live viewings. Although a luxury previously reserved for high-end listings, it’s safe to say the virtual tour has become a godsend for the everyday digital agent. But with restrictions becoming more relaxed and interest in home buying is still on the rise, will buying property without stepping inside still be attractive to audiences?
“No, they’ve served their purpose - back to the real thing”:
- Virtual tours can be an expensive undertaking - VR (virtual reality) real estate tours can run up some costs, requiring professionals to set up and activate.
- Needs additional equipment to scale - Although VR tours themselves may not be for every agent and every client, for those that have seen its benefits and want to continue to keep it on the rota, it may need additional devices, technologies or softwares. However, it’s important to keep in mind there are different set-ups for different budgets exactly because of this.
- Not a one-size-fits-all - Virtual tours, be it through VR or an iPhone display, may not be the best way to showcase every type of property. There’s no one video setting that can do justice to both a residential complex and a townhouse. Virtual tours will have to cater to the actual layout of the property in order for the client to get maximum exposure to it.
- Little room for face-to-face negotiation - Some buyers may prefer more personal and immediate interactions, or may not be technologically adept enough to deal with everything a virtual tour entails. Virtual tours may also inhibit the client from asking the sales agent questions about the property in real time and in real life.
- Hard to get a feel of the surroundings - Virtual tours may not always provide a look at what the neighborhood and surrounding landscape looks like, (unless drones are involved and even then there might be limitations).
- Home infrastructure cannot be assessed - Buyers might feel hesitant to settle on a place without having outside experts come in and assess the infrastructure in real life.
While all these present very real and very valid reasons for homebuyers to be ready to go back to in-person property tours, let’s a have a look at the reasons why virtual tours may be here to stay:
“Yes, virtual tours are the future”:
- Health & Safety - It’s the phrase we’ve all added to our everyday vocabulary since the last year: physical/social distancing. Virtual tours have allowed agents and brokerages to assure customers of their utmost health and safety regarding the home-viewing process, and in this case, all parties benefit from it.
- Comfort - In a world where online consumers are familiar with Amazon and eBay, virtual tours are a way for homebuyers to ‘visit’ as many houses as they want in a day, even within minutes of each other - all in the comfort of their own home and at their own time.
- Convenient and saves agents mock-up work - Virtual tours and 3D space today are so lifelike and accurately represent a property so well that they have eliminated the need for physical mock-ups and models. These online tours can be as detailed as agents choose them to be too, so audiences can have an incredible immersive experience, and investigate details of every room just as they would in person.
- Ease of set-up and minimal cost - Even though we’ve previously mentioned the costs VR tours could run up, most agents can get equally great results by simply showing properties using their own smartphone cameras. Adding small, permanent purchases like a videography app or a handheld gimbal are simple ways agents have also upped the professionalism to their virtual tour offerings without having to hire a crew or buy expensive tools.
- Can be multi-purpose - One property virtual video tour done well can actually be sent to thousands of prospective clients, anywhere around the world, at any time; it can also serve as a gallery item on the agent’s website listing page where all visitors can access it at leisure. It’s also easy for prospects to share video content with their own network of family and friends (and thus furthering an agent’s reach organically).
- Can be leveraged with emerging technologies - Seeing the popularity and relative ease of virtual tours has encouraged investors to work alongside 3D virtual tours and other technologies as a means to acquire and lease properties faster; these technologies are capable of remotely analyzing properties, scaling portfolios nationwide, assess property conditions and renovation costs thoroughly, etc.
What’s clear is that even if a pandemic-free world is right around the corner, the conveniences and unexpected advantages that virtual tours have served in real estate, especially in a time of great uncertainty and even fear, have caused a huge shift in what audiences now want and expect from the property industry.