Digital home showings existed even without the current pandemic in 2020. The world was and will keep shifting towards digitalizing everything, from automated restaurant kiosks to computerized factories and self-driving cars.
The recent pandemic just accelerated some of these shifts in other industries, such as Real Estate, where supply could not meet demand, mainly because of barriers created due to distance and the need to be physically present.
This fast-paced shift caused a new reality, and it might be overwhelming for buyers, sellers, and even agents in the Real Estate industry - that usually relies on handshakes and being present throughout the dealmaking process.
In this feature, I will break down:
Where the Real Estate industry is headed
The different types of digital showings available
Why going digital with your home showings is worth it
A guide for beginners to adjust to digital home showings
How to create a tremendous virtual showing
The best equipment you can get for starting out
Let’s dive in.
The Future is Digital
With the new reality of people urged to stay at home, there is still a steady and ever-increasing demand for purchasing homes.
Even though Real Estate companies are not allowed, or reluctant to conduct physical showings, the desire for digital home showings has risen exponentially.
This new reality has caused people to self-isolate, and that basically means people are spending significantly more time browsing the web and social media platforms. This translates to lots of prospective buyers being exposed to your property through digital means.
In March 2020, Redfin reported an increase of 494% in agent led video home tours.
The CEO of Redfin, Glenn Kelman, was quoted saying:
“The future of real estate has come earlier than any of us could have anticipated”. “The way things are during the pandemic won’t last forever, but at the end of all this, things won’t go back to the way they were either. We hope we’re well prepared.”
Also, Zillow reported they saw a 191% increase in the demand for 3D showings, and that home showing with 3D tours were saved 50% more and sold 10% faster.
Another industry veteran, Keller William’s Vice President, Jay Papasan, said:
“Once a novelty, virtual home tours are rapidly becoming the norm in many markets...”.
Virtual tours and viewing have become the perfect way to gain attention and show your property in a very accessible, safe, and professional way. You should be ready to make that shift.
The Beginners Guide For Digital Showings
First, regardless of the fact of who is doing the digital showing process, you or your agent, it is crucial that you clean, declutter, and organize your house. Take the time to put your property in a presentable shape. Nobody wants to see your laundry on the floor and your misaligned paintings.
Here are some tips for organizing your space better before your showing:
Remove items from countertops to create a more clean view.
Increase the visible living space by removing unnecessary furniture (baskets, tables).
Strategically choose which decorative pieces to keep for the showing.
The property needs to look lived in but match the style of your aspiring potential buyer.
Spend a few extra dollars on eye-catching & color-popping pillows and decorative items.
After finishing these basic steps, you can have a professional photographer or your agent do the entire digital showing for you, but make sure to leave doors open & lights on to decrease the times they need to touch surfaces. Use gloves, and disinfect once the process is done, including the keys.
If you want to do your digital showing yourself, I am going to break down the methods available:
Digital ways of showing your property:
Common and obvious, but still done wrong by most sellers. Here are some basic tips to get you taking better pictures:
Take the best angles which feature the best light. Time of day and sunlight is a factor.
Use a tripod (for phone or camera) when taking the pictures. A reasonable quality tripod will run you on average $15. Considering you will average a return of $5,500, it’s worth it.
Show the scale and size of your house by using the right proportioned furniture. For example, if you have a large deck, re(move) a few chairs or sofas outside, maybe even the table, to emphasize and better portray your patio’s size.
Avoid reflections from glare, sun, and camera flash. Applies to mirrors, glass doors, glass tables, showers, and windows.
Take multiple pictures of each room and space.
When done, you can enhance the pictures yourself, or pay an agency or a professional photographer to make them look better. (lighting, sharpening, lens distortion, blemish removal, etc.).
Video tours are usually guided, and often narrated by the listing agent. They are not the most advanced way of showing a property but are better than photos alone.
They are very easy to make and require just simple preparation, and a decent quality smartphone camera. However, they are a bit tricky if you never practiced camera movement and shooting angles.
There are a variety of free or low-cost apps for you to edit your videos on after the shoot, like LumaFuison and Animoto.
Here are some more tips for taking better video showings of your property:
Move the camera alongside your entire body, to avoid causing the viewer dizziness.
Set the phone to Airplane Mode. No distractions.
Have a quiet environment altogether—kids, pets, etc.
Leave doors open and lights on to avoid fumbling your hands all over.
Mention bed sizes when walking into bedrooms. It is essential and often neglected.
Do a few practice shoots prior while knowing your precise route.
Start and end the tour with the most desirable and memorable spaces (i.e. kitchen, garden, etc.).
3D Virtual Tour Showing
These types of tours are different. It let users look at imagery that makes them experience and “feel” what it would be like to move through the property.
3D virtual tours are created by using panoramic camera lenses and later on stitching each picture using special software, to create a cohesive experience.
The prospect watching these types of tours would have to use special equipment, such as VR glasses or a specific platform or website (Facebook has some 3D video capabilities, for example).
If you decide to do your 3D home showing entirely by yourself, you’ll need:
A smartphone/camera with 3D/360 capabilities.
A tripod or monopod.
Software to process files.
Hosting services to store and display 3D/360 models and tours.
I will give some specific equipment recommendations in a bit.
Interactive 360 Tour Showing
360-degree tours offer an immersive, true-to-life experience.
It requires a special camera positioned in the center of each room or area. When used, it operates and rotates by itself, taking high-resolution pictures in 360 degrees, in a very precise manner.
Then, each picture is uploaded directly to a cloud service. Finally, specialized software that enables adding dynamic features, such as added content, multimedia, and product links, is added. (such as chair prices, flooring quality, and brand, etc.)
Basically, 3D and 360-degree virtual tours are made almost the same way, but the final quality depends on the quality of the camera and type of software used to stitch it together.
Here are some equipment recommendations:
Best 3D/360 Cameras for beginners:
Insta360 ONE X ($400)
18 Mega-pixel camera with auto stabilization, HDR, WiFi capabilities, and cinematic slow-motion.
Ricoh Theta Z1 ($1000)
23 Mega-pixel camera, 4K videos, 4K streaming capabilities, and special noise reduction.
Aleta S2C ($1200)
12K shots, picture stitching software, is integrated into the camera, nine axis sensor, and night HDR.
Best 3D/360 Software for beginners:
Zillow 3D Home
We live in a time where the smartphones we carry in our pocket, like the iPhone 11, have 3D capabilities. This free software from Zillow is designed to work only with iOS currently.
The camera I mentioned earlier, the Insta360 ONE X, is compatible with this software. Both cool and impressive fact about CUPIX is that they were they very first company to provide the software solutions that allowed stitching images into 3D models/tours without a specific camera.
Truly easy to use, and is a favorite among professional real estate agents and developers. It is rated 5/5 at Capterra. Cloud hosting is free for the first 100 public uploads.
For those looking to take their exterior shooting to the next level, here is some extra info.
Best Drones for exterior showings
First, if you are on the fence as to if and why you should use drones, here is some basic information:
Drone shooting for exterior showing has three main benefits:
More Compelling images & videos.
More unique virtual tours.
Show more property features.
Before I recommend a Drone model for beginners, it is essential to know that Drones are usually measured by these four parameters:
The number of flight modes
Payload options (attachment abilities)
Drone model for beginners:
JDI Mavic Mini ($400~)
Has a 12 Mega-pixel camera and a three-axis gimbal for better pictures.
Do you need a license to fly a drone?
Yes. In the US, you need an FAA UAV operator’s certificate. Part 107 is the test you need to pass in order to be certified.
How much does it cost to hire someone to do drone shooting for me?
$25-$200, depending on the expertise of the drone operator you hire, and the area you live in. More expensive cities, for example, will include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Dallas.
Why Choosing Virtual Showings Is Worth It
Over 50% of potential home buyers rely on the Internet to filter their findings.
Demographically and chronologically, millennials are going to take over real estate (20M households by 2025).
You can host a virtual open house with a self-shot video tour. Use a chat platform such as Facetime or Facebook Party with the seller agent and buyer agent doing a virtual walk through a home.
Digital Real Estate showings are the future: by 2025, the extent of VR technology adoption in the niche is going to reach $2.6B.
You can review offers virtually in Zoom or Google Hangouts, where documents can be shared and gone over together in real-time.
Use e-signing, e-closing, and mobile notary services.
What Makes A Great Virtual Tour?
Here’s what your virtual tour needs to have to be deemed good:
The ability to walk through, go back and freeze frames.
Compatibility with multiple devices, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS.
Clear high-definition pictures that are able to show the room in its entirety.
A real view of the home (not a recreation or rendering).
Smooth navigation that makes it easy to navigate different rooms and pan 360 degrees.
How To Create A Virtual Tour In 7 Simple Steps
Choose the right equipment (hardware and software).
Plan your shots.
Set up each room and area.
Test your route and shots first.
Mark the route/position of 360 camera.
Take immaculate shots. Perfect shots. Exceed your competition in quality and quantity.
Upload to software/server and add extra features.
Conclusion on Digital Showings
We learned about where the Real Estate industry is going, alongside more industries that already began shifting towards that direction, and what industry leaders in the Real Estate niche think about it.
We also better understand why it is worth shifting towards digital showing, what methods are available out there, and how to do it properly yourself and with what equipment.
A digital showing gives sellers a better tool to showcase the property, and for buyers, a better experience while buying a property. Virtual tours are best for agents and sellers who want to showcase their listing in the most advanced and future-proof way, without relying solely on in-persn showings.
If you liked this feature, make sure to share it with your fellow Realtors, or friends and family who are looking to sell their home in the near future. Also, if you’d like more features like this or more advanced guides on the same topic, let me or Bill know in the comment section or by reaching out to us.
Other Valuable Huliq Real Estate Resources
Get more helpful real estate guidance in these previously published Huliq articles.
Tips to get your home ready to sell - see what you need to do in order to get your home ready for the real estate market. Preparation is key to a successful real estate transaction. Your efforts will be rewarded when selling.
Selling a rental home when occupied - learn what it takes to get your home sold when there is a tenant involved. These helpful tips will put you on the right track.
About the author: The above article on digital home showings was written by Tom Gil. Tom is a certified copywriter, Harvard trained negotiator, real estate investor, and former special forces sniper instructor. He helps ambitious Real Estate firms, e-Commerce businesses, and Entrepreneurs sharpen their message, improve their voice, and increase their earnings.