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Video home tours, virtual open houses help residential real estate market during pandemic.

COURTESY: REDFIN - Redfin saw a nearly 500 percent increase in requests for video home tours in March and found technologies such as virtual open houses were a successful means of showing its Portland properties in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order rattled several business sectors, including Portland's residential real estate market, Redfin agent Daniel Brooks found that technology he has been using to show homes for a few years proves especially useful now.

Brooks has seen a significant increase in the number of video tours requested by potential buyers and virtual open houses requested by sellers during this time of social distancing and staying at home.

"Video tours are something I've done for the last few years for clients who are out of town, and sellers seem to be more comfortable with it because it means fewer people are coming through their house," he said.

In early March, Redfin updated its website to encourage buyers to ask for video-chat tours and in mid-March it upgraded its tour-request forms to allow buyers to choose a video-chat tour with a single click. Its website encourages buyers to choose their preferred video-chat tool and it has made the choice available on its iOS and Android apps.

"One of the big things it's done is that it's given people who maybe wouldn't be looking at homes at all an alternative way to look at them," he said. "And for sellers who may want to control the number of people going through their homes, I think it makes them more comfortable as well."

Redfin's Seattle headquarters reported a 494 percent increase in requests for video home tours the week of March 23. On March 22, 18.9 percent of tour requests were video-chat tour requests, up from 0.2 percent at the beginning of March. The technology allows online visitors to interact with three-dimensional scans of homes.

"We're still adapting to new ways of doing things, but I think this will be something that is happening in real estate even when this pandemic ends," Brooks said. "We'll be doing more of these things for people who are out of town. Especially in Portland, we have a ton of out-of-town buyers from California, Seattle and other places."

He added that the virtual tours allow agents to point out things that buyers may not know to look for, such as materials used for countertops and other unique amenities.

"We've been fortunate that we've been able to adapt to it so quickly, and I think it will be something we will continue to use when life returns to some sort of normality," Brooks said.

Find out more

Redfin is offering three-dimensional scans of all its homes. Check out a 3-D video walkthrough here.


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