Life after COVID-19 looks profoundly different than it did before the pandemic. To keep ourselves and those we love safe and well, we’ve had to make some pretty significant changes. From work to school to socializing, we’ve taken our lives largely online.
Those changes aren’t just affecting how we live our lives at home. They’re also shaping how we buy and sell our homes. Virtual home tours didn’t begin with the pandemic, but in the wake of widespread national lockdowns, they’ve become the virtual savior of the real estate industry.
This has given rise to some pretty impressive tools and technologies for conducting remote home tours. These include not only FaceTime walkthroughs and Zoom conference calls but on-demand 3D modeling and virtual home decorating and design.
But is this just a fad borne of the needs of the coronavirus, or is this an innovation that’s here to stay?
Power to the Pixel
There’s no question about it, virtual tours offer a tremendous amount of flexibility, far more than you might enjoy in a traditional home tour. For example, today’s virtual home tours allow you to get literal birds-eye views of properties. You can virtually peer inside to familiarize yourself with a home’s layout and flow. You can use GPS to get views of the landscape, the topography, and the neighborhood.
Best of all, you can visit dozens of homes in a single afternoon, all without leaving the comfort of your couch. And if you’re considering relocating to a new city, you can view all the properties you want without wasting time and money traveling to a home or community you quickly realize just isn’t for you.
Upping the Ownership Game
Virtual touring has only become a crucial strategy for buying and selling in the age of social distancing. Contractors, home remodelers, and other home service providers are increasingly turning to virtual tours to help them connect with clients, even as homeowners look to digital tools to plan their next home renovation projects.
Online meetings, combined with real-time video walkthroughs, allow contractors to “meet” with homeowners, discuss their needs and goals, and assess what might be possible for the property. This includes the opportunity for contractors and service providers to develop estimates based on their remote meetings with prospective clients and the insight gathered solely through their virtual property tours.
If you’re looking for work to be completed on the exterior of your home, such as an exterior paint job, then you may well end up connecting with your contractor, getting an estimate, negotiating the project, and seeing it through to completion, all without having to meet face-to-face. This can be a tremendous convenience and significant time saver, even when there is no pandemic. This is especially true if the property you’re renovating is not in the same town you live or work in.
A World of Possibilities
Another exciting benefit of virtual tours is simply the opportunity to discover new properties and to play with design ideas. Thanks to virtual tours, prospective home buyers, and design aficionados alike can discover new styles of architecture and experiment with different styles in home design and decor. The appeal of this feature is unlikely to fade when the virus does.
This means that homebuyers and sellers may well comprise a vastly different target market than they once did because they will likely come from all parts of the country, and even the world, and they’ll likely have a much greater knowledge pool to draw from. They will be approaching the buying process having discovered many different types of homes, communities, and lifestyles. Because of this, they may be more discriminating and selective.
It also means that the real estate industry, from home sellers to home remodelers and contractors, will need to innovate to keep pace with this changed reality. The pandemic, to be certain, has changed the industry in profound ways, and professionals have had to adjust quickly to survive.
But even when the pandemic is no longer a part of our lives, many pandemic-related changes are likely to persist. Virtual tours might never entirely replace traditional tours. There are certain sensory experiences, the tactile experience of the space, the smell of the home, the “vibes” of the space, that even the best virtual tours can’t duplicate.
Nevertheless, there are also significant advantages of virtual tours that homebuyers might not want to give up. Thus, homebuyers and sellers alike will look to enjoy the best of both worlds: the experience of a physical tour and the customization, convenience, and extraordinary capabilities of the virtual one.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that home truly is where the heart is. Even when the virus passes, it’s unlikely this appreciation will subside. This means that homebuyers are probably going to be more discriminating as they strive to find the perfect home. And, in all likelihood, this means they’re not just going to want the physical experience of their potential new home. They’ll want the virtual experience as well.