In states throughout the US, open houses and private home tours have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving prospective buyers and sellers to explore virtual alternatives. These tips will help you navigate the new frontier of open houses and stage your space for a virtual showing. 

Photo via realtor.com

Though it may seem like a long shot to close on a house you’ve only seen online, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the real estate game for the techier. While there’s little debate that the real estate industry is essential, the traditional ways of doing business are decidedly not so. This extends to include in-person showings, open houses, and face-to-face meetings between agents and potential buyers.

In an effort to maintain business as usual, many brokerages are turning to virtual open houses and tours. According to a Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, 79 percent of buyers were shopping for homes online, well before coronavirus became a household word.

A successful open house can be the key to securing a sale. In this guide, we navigate the expanding avenue of virtual reality.

Virtual Home ToursWhat to Expect

Virtual home tours are also known as 3D tours and 3D walkthroughs. They work similarly to Street View on Google Maps, in that buyers can view properties digitally and maneuver them freely from various angles. Virtual tours are different than static listing videos, which lack the interactive element. 

There are two types of 3D virtual tours. Guided visits resemble conventional listing videos. They can be fully virtual or 360-degree videos, captured with a panoramic camera. If you don’t have access to a panoramic camera, software such as iStaging can transform your smartphone into a powerful VR camera. Alternatively, interactive or live visits simulate the experience of traditional open houses. They can be hosted on a range of platforms, including Facebook or Instagram Live, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype. These methods allow for engagement with agents, sellers, and prospective buyers.

The Benefits of Going Virtual

  • Wider Exposure. Hosting open houses online allows for more people to view your listing, including out-of-town and international buyers. This can increase your chances of attracting multiple offers, which can ultimately drive your sale price up.
  • Custom Presentation. Virtual showings can also provide better viewing of properties, so long as you’re willing to invest your time and effort into properly showcasing special features.
  • Increased Safety. Virtual showings are safer (not to mention more convenient) for all parties. Showing your home digitally means little to no foot traffic in your home, increasing privacy and safety for everyone involved.
  • Virtual Staging. According to a Profile of Home Staging report by the National Association of Realtors, 77 percent of real estate agents say staging helps buyers to see a prospective property as their future home. Augmented reality poses a techy alternative to physical home staging. If you find the prospect of AR to be daunting, companies such as Roomy and Stage My Home offer a range of professional and customizable virtual staging services.

Home Staging Tips for Virtual Tours

  • Consider a Front Door Makeover. Much like a physical tour, your virtual tour should start at the front door to give your showing a logical sense of narrative. As such, you want to make sure your door is in good shape. Consider giving your door a fresh coat of paint and adding some potted plants to ensure your home makes the best first impression possible.
  • Clean and Declutter. Virtual or not, real estate agents always suggest getting rid of the clutter in your home prior to a showing. Minimal accessories on countertops, shelves, and other surfaces will make your space look larger and more inviting. In that same vein, never forgo a deep clean. Even though visitors can’t physically be in your space, dirt and grime are still visible in a virtual setting.
  • Rearrange Your Furniture. Having visible space between furniture, especially in tight places, will make rooms look more spacious. Consider Feng Shui principals, which advise against covering design elements and windows with furniture. This might involve moving extraneous items to a storage unit until you sell.
  • Showcase Hidden Spaces. Your closets and storage can be major selling points, so make sure you’ve cleaned and emptied these hidden spaces as much as possible. Keep closet doors open so that potential buyers know where storage areas are located.
  • Put Pet Products Away. Your furry pals are important members of your family, but pet items scattered amongst the house only add to unnecessary clutter. Unless you’ve invested in some design-friendly pet products, put away the leashes and the bowls to create a more professional space.

Use Vishion to Stage Your Space

Staging your home for a virtual tour is not so different than staging for a physical one. Use Vishion to design a marketable space that will shine on screen. Download the app to create color palettes, search for design and decor by color, and create inspirational mood boards.