Virtual Home Tours Facilitate Online Home Buying

Virtual home tours have been helping local and distant buyers for many years. Whether it's relocating military, an out-of-town investor, or a homeowner searching vacation homes from afar, this evolving technology makes finding a house long distance much more manageable.

Tech-savvy Realtors adopt this technology by offering their clients innovative ways to buy a home safely, from practically anywhere. Here's what's important to know when it comes to buying a home during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual Tours Have Evolved

With ongoing pandemic threats a reality, today's buyers want to quickly find their next haven, one that may need to serve as their office, gym, and even classroom for months to come. And sellers want to limit the number of strangers in their homes yet still can reach enough potential buyers to get the best offer on their property. As a result, the industry creates innovative new ways to show homes while keeping our clients safe and socially distanced.

Here are some practices and procedures you might encounter as you explore homes with virtual tours. Many MLS listings already include video tours with property photos. However, these videos often miss features that may be important to you.

  • Virtual Tours use 360° Photos, which are images that allow you to see all angles of space. Tour viewers can look up, down, and around the interior and exterior shots. The tour may also include optional 3D Modeling and virtual staging.

  • Whereas a virtual tour allows you to click to move from room to room in the home, an online walkthrough features the actual act of walking around as the agent creates a video by moving through the house with their camera.

  • Online Walkthroughs can be filmed in advance or as a live production. Such productions are known as Virtual Showings or Online Open Houses. A Virtual Showing is often a scheduled, one-on-one event that mimics an in-person tour of the home, in which the agent and viewer start at the exterior and move their way through the property. If your agent offers to FaceTime or Skype you from home you're interested in, for example, that would be a type of Virtual Showing. In contrast, an Online Open House is more freeform, allowing more viewers to pop in and out of a group video call on apps such as Facebook or Zoom.

Virtual Doesn't Mean Impersonal.

Virtual tours are also exceptional tools for an up-close and personal experience. As a prospective buyer, virtual tours give you a feel for the property, inside and out, so you can easily picture yourself in the space and decide if the home's flow and features work for your lifestyle. In addition, live video walkthroughs with the real estate agent will give you insights into crucial non-visual aspects, like creaky floors, super-fast internet speed, and neighborhood dynamics. Plus, you'll be able to ask questions and get an insider's perspective on what's so great about the home.

When selling, using a virtual tour to market your home attracts more buyers who will be getting an up-close and personal look inside your home that encourages more action.

Virtual Open House

If you want to see every detail, ask for a live virtual tour of your favorite property. We're happy to preview homes you are interested in by offering a live virtual tour using Facetime, Zoom, or WhatsApp, among others, to tour a home room by room without you physically stepping onto the property. You can ask questions at any time during the live video tour. Leveraging virtual tours enable you to narrow down your house choices, selecting what's worth an in-person visit.

Virtual Is Just The First Step To Safe Home Sales

Despite the dearth of virtual tours available, buyers may still need to visit a home themselves to feel confident enough to submit an offer. When a showing is requested, listing agents and sellers will work together to develop a procedure that ensures everyone feels safe and comfortable. Some precautions include requiring a buyer pre-qualification letter, conducting tours by appointment with essential parties, and asking buyers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms. 

On the day of the tour, agents might ask buyers to remain in their vehicle until they arrive at the property and wear protective gear such as face coverings and gloves. Many will provide hand sanitizer and ask buyers to refrain from touching any surfaces in the home. Instead, the agent (or seller, before the buyers' arrival) will turn on lights, open doors, and pull back curtains. Then, after everyone has left, the agent will return the home to its original state and disinfect it as needed.

The Speed of Closing Depends on Your Goals

Though maybe not literally, virtual tours are opening doors for buyers and sellers in terms of options available. In 2019, buyers viewed an average of 10 homes over ten weeks before submitting an offer.5 But thanks to an increased prevalence of virtual tours saving them driving time, they're able to peek inside that number of homes in a much shorter period to make their final choice.

With all this viewing activity, it makes sense that sellers whose listings feature virtual tours are receiving more offers on their properties. According to one study, virtual tours can add between two and three percent to the sales price, in part because increased buyer interest has made sellers feel confident waiting for the exact right offer.2

So if you're a buyer luxuriating in viewing homes from your couch, remember that you're not alone in your search. Your competition is virtually viewing the exact properties you are, so it's still important to work with your real estate agent to quickly submit a firm offer when you find the home of your dreams. And for sellers, if a speedy sale is essential to you, carefully weigh that against the temptation to entertain more and more offers, which can keep your home on the market up to six percent longer.2 Your agent can help you decide the right strategy for your priorities.

Virtual May Not Always Be the Right Choice

Creating, editing, uploading, and marketing virtual tours for a listing can be pricey. Packages through popular 3D imaging platforms like Matterport and Immoviewers can cost hundreds of dollars on their own.6 Virtual staging will further bloat a listing's marketing budget, and then there are the advertising dollars needed. Even seemingly inexpensive options like video call walkthroughs still require time and energy for both the seller and agent.

These costs mean that a complete virtual tour package might not always be the right choice for sellers. For example, when you talk to your agent about marketing your home, it may be that an elaborate virtual tour, showing, and the open house doesn't make sense. It could be that your potential buyers may not resonate with that type of marketing, that the investment-to-return ratio isn't in your favor, or that there are more effective ways to get your listing seen by qualified buyers.

Buyers, you may notice that some listings within your search parameters don't offer virtual tours. That's because marketing those for-sale homes might not have needed a complete virtual package to entice buyers to submit offers, or those homes are better suited to more traditional tactics. So please don't close the door on your dream home because it doesn't have virtual events and features. Instead, stay open-minded so you can consider the wealth of home options that fit your lifestyle, needs, and budget.

Private Showing

When it comes time for an in-person visit, we can set up a private showing subject to local regulations and procedures. We ensure that the property is ready to show and no other potential buyers are viewing the home simultaneously.

Will Virtual Home Tours be in Your Future?

As technology develops, creating virtual tours will become easier and cheaper. Coupled with the high demand for them, this means that virtual tour options are likely not only here to stay but will continue to grow into a common addition to listings.


Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

If buying or selling a home is on your mind, we'd be happy to discuss how virtual tours can play a part in your real estate experience. Reach out to us today for help finding local homes for sale that have virtual tours or to chat about if adding a virtual tour to your upcoming listing is the right fit. So be it today, tomorrow, or six months from now, we're prepared to offer you dedicated, extraordinary service when you're ready. Please feel free to reach out with any questions. 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation or call us at 772-678-1600 for immediate service. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.


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