Technology

Real estate websites will soon be hosting ‘virtual open houses’

Realync working on API that will let agents embed live video tours

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Real estate brokers and agents reel in many of their online leads by offering features like home valuation and listing search tools on their websites, often gating such tools behind registration forms.

Now there’s another lead-capture feature in the works that may begin popping up on real estate websites later this year: virtual open houses — live video walk-throughs of listings.

Realync, an app designed to support virtual open houses, is hard at work building an API (application programming interface) that could allow real estate websites to embed them on their websites.

Keller Williams recently used Twitter to predict that such technology will take off in 2015.

Realync offers several advantages over other live video apps like FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts.

For starters, the app records footage to the cloud so that buyers can review and share it. On top of that, it also lets viewers see property details, send instant messages to their agents, shoot photos and take notes that they can review later.

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The latest version of the app lets agents show local destinations on a map and allows their clients to join private live video tours without creating an account.

In contrast to private video tours, “virtual open houses” supported by Realync are designed to help agents scare up leads, much like traditional open houses.

Virtual open houses capture leads by requiring viewers to register their contact information.

Since people can view these tours in their pajamas, virtual open houses offer much more lead-generation potential than their real-life counterparts.

Realync has already signed up a number of brokers over the last few months, but clients may surge once they give brokers and agents the ability to host virtual open houses on their websites.

The functionality could drive visitors keen on seeing a particular home to a broker or agent’s website, along with helping real estate professionals’ capture the contact information of consumers who happen to arrive on their website while a virtual open house is taking place, and decide to take a peek.

ReaLync CEO Matt Weirich said the startup is in conversations with listing portals, not just brokers.

Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and other real estate websites could conceivably host virtual open houses on listing pages, and perhaps even craft advertising products around them.

Realync plans to roll out the API sometime in the beginning of the third quarter of 2015.

Email Teke Wiggin.