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Homebuyers Turn to Virtual, Robot, and Solo Tours in the Age of Social Distancing

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Homebuyers Turn to Virtual, Robot, and Solo Tours in the Age of Social Distancing


March 31, 2020
Virtual Home tour
Image: Prostock-studio

Spring may be heating up, but the housing market has cooled way down, thanks to the coronavirus’ spread. But some families still need to find a home, so they’re turning to the digital tools and solo tours more realtors are offering due to the pandemic. Redfin saw an almost 500 percent increase in requests for agent-led home video tours two weeks ago, and the sales of one company that sells lockboxes are rising as more homebuyers seek solo in-person home tours. Even the use of robots is seeing tremendous growth: Instead of agents taking a homebuyer directly around the house, they use a robot to show the place and speak directly to the client at a remote location. No, this is not 2050. This is here and now, as the adoption of technology is expedited in these uncertain times. 

While homebuyer demand has plummeted, there are still some out there who may need to move, and either purchase or rent a home. So, much like all interaction in the age of COVID-19, home touring is moving online, using robots and going solo.

Zillow, a home listing site, said it saw a 191% increase in the creation of 3D home tours in the first weeks of March compared with the average number created in February. Even before the coronavirus, listings including a 3D Home tour were saved by users 50% more, and those homes sold on average 10% faster.

Redfin, a real estate brokerage, saw a 494% increase in requests for agent-led video home tours two weeks ago and at the beginning of last week 18.9% of tour requests from Redfin.com were video-chat tours, up from 0.2% at the beginning of March, a 94-fold increase.

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