Much beyond what most agents have called a “virtual tour” – a pre-recorded walk-through or 360 degree view of a home – most real estate agents right now are doing a live, one-on-one video walk-through of properties during the coronavirus pandemic quarantine.
Using your cell phone or a table with cell service, combined with any video-sharing app such as Facetime, Zoom, or other video calls, is an option for providing these live virtual home tours … and we will assume that’s what you’re doing in this article.
We asked our marketing expert over at Vicky Wu Marketing for some of the best tips for providing live virtual home tours.
There are some specific things you can do to make these live virtual home tours even more powerful and useful for your prospective buyers.
Set the stage beforehand
And we aren’t talking about staging the home, but discussing with your prospective buyer how the tour is going to work, such as instructions on how they will direct you around the home. We recommend sending it via email beforehand, plus repeating those same instructions at the very beginning of your live video. Also send accompanying information (discussed below) to the buyer ahead of time and request that they have it available at the time of your tour.
Let the buyer be in control
Think how a buyer views a home in person … you may be pointing out different rooms and features, but a lot of the time the buyer is able to wander room to room as they desire. One of the best ways to help your buyer feel like they’re really there is by letting them drive the tour. They should have the option of going into any room, lingering in a room as long as desired, or revisting a room they’ve already been in.
Provide a rough floor plan
If you provide a printed floor plan for your buyer, they can refer to that as they’re getting the virtual walkthrough tour. This will help them understand how all of the rooms flow together better than they would having a tour without the floor plan. These plans don’t have to be accurate or contain measurements (and note that on the document), even a hand-drawn version can help.
Photos to complement
Since the listing will likely already have photos online, much like providing a rough floor plan, you can and should refer to the photos that your buyer has already likely seen.
Focus on features and benefits
Remember to show a feature by discussing the benefits of the feature. And be sure to ask your buyer what benefits they could see their family experiencing by using or having access to the feature. You want them to begin envisioning themselves there, not you there, and the best way you can do that is by having them talk about being there and doing.
Now for some of the more technical aspects of providing a live video tour of a home:
Have good lighting. Videos need more light than viewing a home in person, so be sure to open window blinds and curtains and turn on all of the possible lighting before your live video tour begins. (It’s also good to open all of the doors that you will need open while doing this step.) If you have video lighting at home (portable ring lights are often used by podcasters), you may even consider bringing that along. You can move it room to room and plug in as needed to provide some additional video-friendly light.
Walk, and turn, slowly. Very slowly. Your eyes are able to process moving around a room much better than a video camera does because of the frame rate it is able to capture, so keep that in mind that your buyer is going to have a different view. One of the most dizzying things you can do when shooting video is turn left or right too quickly. What seems natural to you will seem like your viewer is zooming along. The same happens even when walking forward but not to as great of an extent.
Keep your elbows in. Most of us tend to stick our elbows out when we are using our phone, or even another type of video camera. This actually decreases stability of our video, creating shakiness for the person viewing. Keeping your elbows tighter in to your sides helps create additional stability and decreases that shakiness.
Check your cell connection ahead of time. Facetime, Zoom for mobiles, and other video sharing apps take a lot of cell signal strength. If the homeowner is willing, ask if you can sign onto their wifi before the virtual showing – many routers now have a way for guests to log in without needing the password to the homeower’s private signal. An internet signal is going to be much stronger than your cell phone signal. If the cell signal is weak and there’s no ability to sign onto the internet wifi, consider purchasing a hotspot – many of the cell phone providers have prepaid options so you can pay as needed.
Turn the phone horizontal before you begin the call. Homes tend to be horizontal even when they have high ceilings – we want to see view to the left and right more than we do up and down. So make sure you turn your phone horizontal before you start the video call, since some platforms don’t let you make that flip while you’re actively on the call.
Practice makes perfect. Walk through the home once before your video call, while looking through your camera app. This will help you understand the flow of the house, and where the features are that you need to point out, plus practice turning slowly and moving from room to room.
The National Association of REALTORS® also has a good PDF: Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS® that answers some of the common questions of how real estate agents can and should work during the pandemic.
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