virtual-home-buying

They say love is blind. These days, apparently so is house buying.

To say that the way we shop has changed significantly in the last 20 years is a considerable understatement. Before the internet, eBay and Amazon took over, consumers would never dream of buying clothes, vehicles, furniture, homes, or just about anything else without first seeing it, trying it on, or taking it for a test drive.

But, times have changed in a big way – even when shopping for a house. According to a Redfin-commissioned survey, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of people who bought a home in 2020 made an offer on a property that they hadn’t seen in person – the highest share since at least 2015.

You’ve probably noticed a similar trend with your clients. Especially if you’ve already stepped up your marketing game to include virtual tours, photo galleries, and other online resources that allow potential buyers – near and far – to get to know your listings without having to step foot on the property.

Virtual home tours, videos, and 3-D walk-throughs give buyers 24/7 access to your listings so that they can home shop when it’s convenient for them. That’s pretty convenient if someone works second shift or weekends and can’t get to an open house.

Having the capability to virtually house hunt is especially important to three main categories of clientele:

Out-of-towners

Sometimes, those looking to relocate can’t take the time and expense to travel to see a potential home in person. And, if they are in a hurry to move because of job relocation, family business, or a change in marital situation, they need to find a new home quickly.

In those cases, they may be more willing to purchase a property they’ve never seen in person. Especially if the virtual tour and online resources you’ve provided have given them a comprehensive look at the home, and you’ve answered all their questions to their satisfaction.

Busy careers

We’re all busy. But some careers require more extended hours and travel than others. For those who live out of a suitcase because of a hectic work travel schedule, attending a standard open house is (virtually) impossible. As a result, the only way they can tour a potential house is online. And because they know they may not be spending much time in their new home anyway, they may be quite comfortable with any perceived risk associated with buying “sight-unseen.”

Pandemic concerns

Virtual home shopping has become more popular than ever in the past 12 months as the pandemic continues. With travel restrictions and safety protocols still in place, virtual home tours are the safest way to go. And while there are certainly many who have no interest in moving but would rather hunker down in their current house, the real estate industry is still alive and well.

Remote work has also become much more common in many industries, allowing employees to live virtually anywhere in the country and still keep their jobs. Making a cross-country move to a warmer climate or closer to family wasn’t necessarily a possibility two years ago without a job change. But now, companies are finding out that employees can be just as productive while living hundreds of miles away from the office as if they were chained to their desk on the third floor of corporate headquarters.

Just like buying groceries online and Christmas shopping on Amazon, the “buying blind” home shopping trend is here to stay. If you don’t want to be left behind, you need to embrace it.

Some ways to do that include making sure all of your listings are online – on the agency’s website, your website, and your social media platforms. Every listing should include a virtual tour, photo galleries, or some other medium that allows potential buyers to get a good understanding of the house. Make yourself available to prospective buyers via phone, text, email, chat, social media – virtually any way possible. Since they are house hunting without being on-site, they may want to see every nook and cranny by video and will ask many questions, so have your answers ready before they ask.

*Not all borrowers will qualify. Contact us for more information on fees and terms. Not intended as legal, financial, or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.

Ellis, T. (2021, January 14). 63% of 2020 homebuyers made an Offer sight Unseen, Shattering previous record. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www.redfin.com/news/remote-homebuying-surges-to-new-high/