Self-containment and social distancing have made in-person home tours challenging. These top tech picks and tips can help you wait out the unexpected pandemic.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Real estate agents are looking for ways to keep showing properties in a nation under the grip of a pandemic demanding we interact as infrequently as possible. In fact, Redfin has canceled all open houses, as has RE/MAX, and Zillow has cut Premier Agent fees by 50 percent for the month of April in anticipation of a temporary market slowdown.

Depending on what your market is experiencing, it might be too late to start using video or 3D systems to capture your listings (unless vacant and low risk), but it is the perfect time to research all the creative, affordable ways to get your listings online, promoted, and viewed from anywhere.

Whether you’re pivoting your listings online or looking forward to the day the viral fog lifts and the sunlight of normalcy casts itself on the market again, here are some of our top video tour picks to help you prepare.

1. RICOH Tours

This mobile app and camera combo product by camera company RICOH uses the highly reputable Theta V 360 camera to quickly capture room-surround images in 4K.

Users need only to label each room and press the button. The app stitches them all together for social publication, embedding in websites and automatic cloud storage. Consider upgrading to the Theta Z1 for even higher quality images. RICOH offers multiple subscription and package options.

2. Matterport 3D Capture for Smartphones

Back in 2019, Matterport shifted its focus, so to speak, from hardware and tour services to developing capture technologies, both 2D and 3D. As part of that, it managed to squeeze its industry-first technology into an app for both Android and iOS. Its spatial recognition tech, which depicts room heights and distances, is really practical, especially for buyers with artwork or unusual furniture.

Insight into how the new technology measures spaces to get an accurate rendering | Photo credit: Matterport

3. BoxBrownie 360 Image Enhancement

The Australian image enhancement company has gone from joey to Croc Hunter in only a few years, rocketing its way from Down Under into the U.S. real estate scene on the backs of its overnight picture improvement services. The company can take any 3D tour and make it look like it cost way more than it did. The company can also virtually stage 3D tours of vacant homes, perfect for those times when even the furniture is on self-quarantine.

4. Asteroom

New to the market in the Summer of 2019, Asteroom is a mobile tour creation app for both major platforms. The app allows for an array of text designs, links, information tags, floating still images — for detail shots, like appliance close-ups or a view through a window — and even logos to be presented for interaction within the app. You can also add 3D objects to virtually stage an empty space.

Asteroom offers rotating “dollhouse” views and floor plan capabilities. Finished tours can be shared to various social media accounts, emailed and embedded on webpages.

asteroom app tour

5. Rylo

Introduced first to the action sports world, the Rylo mini-cam is known for its incredible image stability and auto-removal of selfie-sticks and tripods from final footage. But you need to act fast if you want one of these cameras — its new parent company wants its internal tech, not its camera body. The camera is being phased out over the next year.

Rylo was acquired by image editing app company VSCO in December 2019, and it will cease production of the Rylo. However, cameras are still available at Best Buy. The Android and iOS apps can be downloaded until 2021 and will be perpetually supported. The Rylo is still worth getting for video services and high-end marketing visuals. It’s very cool.

 

Maximizing your options

So, have one of the above products in mind? Here are a few ways to ramp up your virtual tour marketing.

Virtual open house

Instead of putting up sidewalk signs and worrying about how to get handwritten signatures into your CRM, create a livesteam event for your listing.

Use the home’s coming soon status as a way to promote it to your sphere. Consider doing a blog post about it. Creating a landing page with a link to the stream site is also be effective.

Using Facebook Live or use other live stream options such as Periscope or Vimeo’s live stream suite, broadcast the home’s feature to a live, at-home audience. You can record the event for later publication and ongoing marketing content. Consider running a live market tour by showing multiple brokerage listings in a single day.

Host an in-listing video event

Instead of a traditional tour, use one of your listings as a “studio” to host an educational workshop, market update or even your podcast. Choose a “highlight” room or unique listing feature as your backdrop, such as a well-tended garden patio or sitting area.

And it should go without saying, remember to drop an occasional reference to the listing during your event. This is effective passive marketing at its best.

Interview open house visitors

Assuming permission is granted, ask open house visitors if they’d be open to sharing their reactions about a listing with your audience. This man-on-the-street style video would require a more open-minded seller in most cases, but they’re out there. And the unique marketing play might really pay off in terms of driving competition among buyers with good things to say about it.

From industry-halting illnesses to change-making technologies, the real estate industry is in a place few will ever forget. At least some cool video can help us remember what it was like.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman. He lives near Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.

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