The housing market has gone through some interesting shifts courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic. While housing insecurity rages in many sectors, the market experienced a boom. A great part of this boom was due to quick thinking and adjustments made to the standard real estate model on the fly.
One of the best tools any real estate agent could use during the pandemic was virtual home tours. Whether as an agent or a buyer, you might wonder how an online tour of a house might work. What is a virtual home tour? How can you plan one? How can you set one up on your own? Here is what you need to know.
What Is a Virtual Home Tour?
Let us clarify some terms before we dive deep into the hows and whys. What is a virtual home tour? In essence, virtual home tours are what they state on the tin. They are online, usually photograph or video-based tours of a particular property.
An online tour can serve as a supplement to or substitute for visiting the location itself. Many places still advise following the WHO distancing guidelines, so a virtual home tour can allow you to reach clients that otherwise might not be able to tour a home at this time.
Tips for Setting Up a Virtual Home Tour
When you are ready to get your home ready to be listed, it is a good idea to get connected with a local real estate agent who can help you navigate getting a virtual tour of your home done. Because it is such a daunting task, 3D virtual tours are best done by professionals who have the correct skill set and equipment for such a job. This is where companies like Hommati come into play, because they have the proper training on how to create the best looking tours to get your home to sell fast.
First, Choose a Method
When your agent discusses with you about doing a 3D tour, it will mean that a 3D camera will be used to take pictures all throughout the house and will connect to form a tour to all of the important parts of your house. The tour will allow potential buyers the ability to walk around your house in any way they please, which is better than a predetermined walkthrough tour that is on one path for the entire video. Viewers will get a 360 degree view of each room from the comfort of their own couch, which gives them the chance to see the house and make the decision to see it in person if they choose to proceed further and make an offer.
A 3D tours gives the viewers a freedom to go anywhere they please and take their time in each space without feeling rushed in any way. For a better idea of what a 3D virtual home tour looks like in practice, check out the listings we at Hommati have under our 3D Tours tab!
Second, Prepare the Home for Touring
It does not matter if you hold a house tour in person or online. The same rules of staging apply in both circumstances. So, to prepare the home for a virtual tour, you should:
- Declutter and depersonalize as much as possible before you begin shooting
- Make sure to clean every nook and cranny
- Organize the furniture in ways that highlight your home's best features
- Don't neglect landscaping and yard upkeep
Once you have your home suitably staged, it will be time for your Hommati rep to start filming and taking pictures of your house for the tour.
Third, Make It a Production
There is a big difference between someone who "tours" their home by walking through the house with their phone camera and someone who invests in proper video production. Only the latter of these will attract many buyers. So, when setting up your online tour, companies like Hommati will follow the tips below to help maximize the production value:
- Steady camera with a tripod—shaky cam died out in the early 2000s
- Lighting, both natural and studio, is key to a good shot
- Find the best angles to showcase your rooms
- Avoid tilting the camera up and down—this can create shearing in the video
It may take more time and money, but making your virtual home tour a proper production will almost certainly draw more eyes to it and leave a favorable impression on would-be buyers.
Fourth, Choose a Platform
Once Hommati has filmed and produced the virtual home tour, it will be added to the listing of your house to be seen by everyone who views your home listing online. Of course, skilled agents will want to make use of the agent resources and services we have at Hommati. This will also allow your tour to be shared and posted to social media pages, which will then be spread to even more potential buyers.
Questions to Ask During Virtual Home Tours as a Buyer
Now that we have covered what needs to be done from a seller's point of view, let us talk about what virtual home tours entail as a buyer. What questions do you need to ask before you buy a place you have toured locally? It is always good to make a list to discuss with your agent when narrowing down your search. Some good ones to keep in mind include:
What's the Neighborhood Like?
A home can look wonderful on a virtual tour that does not have sound; however, once you add sound into the picture, you may hear the distinctive sound of heavy street traffic or loud schoolchildren. Or worse, criminal elements. So, it is always good to visit the house in person before making any decisions. The virtual tours will help to weed out houses you don't necessarily care to see in person and narrow your list down the few you want more information on.
This also includes establishing if there is a Homeowner's Association, and what fees or rules apply to them. Asking about flood and other inclement weather risks might prove to be good follow-up questions.
How Recent Were the Latest Repairs/Replacements?
Sellers want to put their home's best foot forward, so some less-than-scrupulous listers might throw a bandage solution at a gaping problem that the home has. Or worse, they might neglect to inform you that the last time anyone repaired the centralized heating was sometime in the 1990s.
So, as a buyer, you need to establish whether or not any major repairs got done. Then, sort out when those repairs were completed. With that information in hand, you can better predict any potential problems with the house down the line.
This includes repairs done on the roof, gutters, foundation, HVAC systems, and any other areas crucial to the home's function and appearance. Do not hesitate to press the matter if the seller gets defensive or cagey about it. You need to know the house will not collapse on you while you are living in it!
Do You Have Shots from Other Angles?
This question applies more if the listing in question did not opt for 3D touring or 360-degree footage. Again, sellers want to put their home's best foot forward and snag the best price for their listing. Just like on Instagram, a savvy seller knows the best angles from which to showcase their home. And these angles, while gorgeous-looking, can hide some significant problems in the background.
Is Everything in the Home Included in the Sale?
Some sellers want to make the house look as vibrant or occupied as possible. This often includes shots of a kitchen with fully updated appliances or living rooms with gorgeous furniture. Ask what is included in the sale price of the home. Depending on how attached the seller is to the furniture or appliances in question, you might be able to score a deal on these crucial pieces to your home!
How Much Maintenance Will the Yard Take?
A large, sprawling yard is a gorgeous feature that will add a decent amount to your home's price tag. Especially if you live in a zip code where yard space is at a premium; however, as a buyer, you need to know how much work it takes to maintain that yard.
Those acres might sweeten the deal when you are looking at the property on paper; however, when you have to hire someone to help you take care of the yard work, they will not seem so attractive anymore.
What Is the Deal With the Carpet?
Carpet is a common Band-Aid solution for a variety of issues with flooring and subflooring. Now, this is not a guarantee: The previous owner could have simply preferred the feel of carpeted floors to hardwood; however, it is worth asking why the carpet got laid down in the home if only to avoid running into serious issues with the flooring later.
Want to Plan a Virtual Home Tour of Your Own?
Virtual home tours are a fantastic tool for the real estate market, allowing buyers and sellers to keep in contact even during a global pandemic. Moreover, they offer agents and potential homebuyers the chance to peruse listings and go through them from the comfort of their own homes.
Whether you are listing your home with an agent or tour a house that you want to buy, Hommati can put you in contact with the listings and experts that you need. Take a moment to find an agent, and reach out to us today. We are happy to support you in your real estate journey.