As the coronavirus continues to paralyze global economic growth, the real estate industry is trying to uncover new and innovative ways to gather leads and keep sellers and buyers connected as they say necessity is the mother of invention after all.
Government regulations for curbing the spread of the coronavirus, including lockdowns and compulsory closures of businesses, have become more and more strict as the pandemic continues to spread, which has left real estate businesses fighting to stay afloat in such volatile and challenging times to try and keep the real estate industry alive. This is where virtual reality, virtual tours and live videos come into action. Before the coronavirus outbreak, virtual reality was both a new and exciting technology but moreover it is a huge convenience for potential home buyers. Now it has become a very safe way to browse through properties without the risk of catching the virus.
The Matthew Hood Real Estate Group points out that “A number of young tech companies are exploring an entirely in-VR experience where you enter search criteria like price, location, and number of rooms and you’re presented a number of homes and you can virtually tour….Once that happens, you’ll look back and say, ‘How did we do this before?’”
“In addition to virtual reality and virtual tours that are already available on many listings, we’re using Google meetings, YouTube Live and Facebook Live to orchestrate virtual open houses,” said the CEO of Nest Seekers International, Eddie Shapiro. “Real estate agents and brokerages are chameleons and entrepreneurial by nature, so we’re quick to adjust.”
Traditional real estate tours usually conducted on weekends for any prospective home hunters interested in a particular property; conflict with the current quarantine guidelines instructing people to keep at least 2 meters apart from one another. In multiple countries governments have prohibited social gatherings, forcing restaurants, bars and cafeterias to operate on a delivery-only service. Moreover, most people are consumed by fear and anxiety due to the large number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths and for this reason are confining themselves to their homes for their own good and the good of the entire world.
Many real estate businesses are now incorporating virtual reality and virtual tours as a part of their online real estate marketing campaigns to both encourage new leads and keep customer engagement up.
According to the President of the real estate brokerage Compass, Rory Golod, international clients could be quicker than US consumers to reengage with the real estate markets because the coronavirus took slightly longer to hit the US when compared to other countries. According to Mr. Golod: “Foreign buyers have been engaging in virtual reality showings for a long time, so they’re used to searching for properties this way. Over the past four or five years, we’ve seen more international clients purchase homes sight unseen, especially if they know the specific building or neighborhood. Right now, most domestic buyers use virtual tours as a screening tool, but we’ll see more domestic buyers purchasing sight unseen too, I think.”
Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei province and the birthplace of the coronavirus, for example has already started to emerge from its 76 day lockdown, with businesses and communities trying to jumpstart normality. Johns Hopkins University’s lecturer in political economics, Ho-Fung Hung, said: “The high-profile re-opening of Wuhan is meant to send a signal that China is getting back to business and work can be resumed. But despite the government efforts, people will be still very cautious. People can’t easily forget the government’s early missteps in causing the crisis, particularly for those who lost their loved ones or have their health severely impaired.”
China currently has 82,341 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 77,892 recovered and 3,342 deaths.
According to a recent survey by an online real estate broker in China, virtual reality has become the new popular trend of this year with a huge surge in consumers engaging with virtual tours. ‘The data shows that in February 2020, house searchers and brokers on the Shell platform launched 10.47 million VR viewing sessions, an increase of 34.6 times compared with January; the duration of VR viewing sessions in February was 247,400 hours, an increase from January. 171.7 times, in the words of Ms. Zhang, a real estate consultant for Sunac Yuhechen Project, the efficient online communication has accelerated the natural decision-making process of customers.’
Click here to read the full report.
Real estate investment in the US is made up of 11 percent of investors from China. Nevertheless, online traffic and social media engagement has increased since the coronavirus outbreak began, which means that virtual reality has a strong foothold in reaching potential customers as they browse the internet in search for their ideal real estate.
Pro tip for creating effective virtual tours and live video tours
Creating footage of a virtual tour displaying all the best features of a property is the first step in real estate online marketing but it just scratches at the surface of consumer engagement. Instead you should go into further details about the listing. You need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, what would a prospective buyer be interested in when looking for property? What are the positives and negatives? What are the surroundings like?
3 dimensional virtual tours can be broken down into two main categories:
- Interactive visits: These are 3D virtual tours that give users the ability to navigate through a property by clicking on prompts within the video. Interactive virtual tours take a lot of time and effort but the end result is highly effective, allowing your target audience to independently explore real estate properties.
- Guided virtual tours involve a more personal tone, with a host taking potential clients through a virtual tour of the property. 360-degree virtual videos are also a great and effective feature to get your target audience exploring your listings.
As the coronavirus continues to dampen economic activity more and more people are stuck under lockdowns in their homes spending more time online. So, with all this uncertainty and change the best approach is to adapt and adjust to the challenges to help boost your online real estate marketing campaigns. With your target audience confined to their homes, optimize and adopt virtual reality to help enhance customer engagement and increase your leads. Just because home buyers cannot leave their houses doesn’t mean they can explore the real estate markets with online virtual tours!