Why Real Estate Virtual Tours Are Here To Stay

Virtual tours have provided a lifeline for agents over the past 18 months, but what now? Is there still a place for virtual viewings in a post-pandemic world?

Becky Poynton
August 12, 2021
Real Estate Virtual Tours  - Why they’re here to stay

The pandemic has caused many professionals to adapt and adopt new technologies and systems in order to keep businesses running, and some of them have proved to be so successful that they may only be developed further. Virtual tours, considered by some before lockdown life to be too impersonal and lacking detail to be part of an agent’s steady arsenal of tools, turned out to be a lifeline during a time when in-person property tours were against lockdown protocols. The benefits of virtual tours seem to far surpass their drawbacks, and recent statistics further confirm this. 

  • One study found that web visitors stayed on a site with virtual tours five to ten times longer than sites that didn’t feature them. 
  • The Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report of 2020 revealed that virtual tours soared by 750% once lockdown was initiated across the United States, and continued to remain twice as high as the previous year through November 2020. 
  • One Realtor.com report found that properties offering virtual tours received over 85% more views than those without and, in fact, 54% of homebuyers said they actually skipped over listings that didn't include virtual tours. 
  • Importantly, virtual tours are proving to be more enticing to visitors than listings that only feature still photography, with a 40% higher click rate. In fact, 75% of prospects surveyed said virtual tours assisted them in the decision making process. 

Lead Conversion
That means virtual tours serve as an important tool for digital agents to not only save time (with less wasted viewings), but convert more qualified leads as prospects become more sure in their decision making, and identify clearer questions they’d like to discuss with the agent. 

The level of increased qualified leads is important to note because studies have shown that agents who hosted online tours and open houses sold more properties than those who didn’t in 2020, revealing a significant shift in post-pandemic buyer behaviour - they demand more convenience, safety, and tech-agile interactions than ever before, embracing digital solutions like the virtual tours with such positive reactions that it has almost caught the real estate industry (notoriously slow to change) off guard. 

A Shift in Buyer Behaviour
While many leaders in the sector have recognized buyers’ apprehension in the past when it comes to finalizing sales online, (in fear of privacy breaches and hackers etc), statistics again are revealing buyer behaviour trends that are changing. According to Redfin in their January 2021 report, 63% of 2020 homebuyers made an offer on a property, sight unseen, breaking records as virtual home tours have now gone from “futuristic fantasy to an everyday part of the homebuying process”. 

An Immersive Experience
3D virtual tours
have been proven to bring significant results - they are accessible via virtually any device, and give prospects an immersive experience where they have detailed and easy navigation across different rooms or floors of a property. The technology will often allow them to assess even minute details of furniture, materials,and virtual and spatial data. These capabilities increase prospect engagement and can even be embedded or shared across social media platforms so that they can get their friends or family’s take on the property too. 3D virtual tours have a number of additional pluses: 

  • Young buyers (who make up 71% of the market) are especially interested in the use of virtual reality in real estate, and will expect to see virtual tours as a natural part of an agent’s marketing package. 
  • 3D tours can net up to four times more leads and capture a great number of qualified leads (49%). 
  • Online listings with 3D virtual tours get 40% higher click rates than listings that don’t.
  • Agents receive up to 90% more phone inquiries and 65% more by email 
  • Younger buyers are 130% more likely to book an appointment after having viewed a virtual tour first, and finally;
  • 75% of all buyers said they would like to see more virtual tours featured.

To learn more about how the property journey is shifting online, read our recent blog post:

Will Proptech and the Pandemic Kill the Real Estate Office?

As many property professionals turn to proptech while working from home during COVID-19, what does this mean for the future of the shopfront real estate office?