Not long before coronavirus first hit his home state of North Dakota, James Jensen, a broker at RE/MAX Lawn Realty in Valley City, went to a house he was selling and made a video tour using a Ricoh camera and Ricoh Tours software. He had been filming 3D tours for a while, but after the lockdown started and Jensen’s team was told to not to come into the office, he decided to turn the tours into a virtual scavenger hunt.
“It always bothered me why people weren’t loving this technology,” Jensen told Inman, adding that he came up with the idea as a way to keep clients engaged (something Jensen is particularly skilled at; during the holidays, he and his colleague installed Santa mailboxes in their communities). “I realized that maybe they either didn’t understand or want to take the time to navigate through the picture.”
The first scavenger hunt, which Jensen held in partnership with the local RE/MAX Now in Jamestown, asked viewers to find a set number of items — a summer hat, a red teapot and wagon wheel among others — by clicking through the different rooms of the house. Participants wrote down locations and emailed them to the brokerage for a chance to win a gift card to a local supermarket.
“The 360 tours are the closest thing I have found to physically [viewing a property],” he said. “It is a good time to figure out how to best utilize it.”
The first scavenger was a big success. The home tour had 313 unique visitors while the Facebook post Jensen used to tell people about it had 2,400 views. As a result, Jensen decided to do it as a weekly event for a different property each Sunday for the duration of the pandemic. So far, he’s hosted two games. Each hunt will be announced on the brokerage’s Facebook page, and players will have several days to submit answers.
They are currently collecting footage of vacant homes and homes owned by those who let Jensen in to film when they’re not there (to maintain social distancing) because they still want eyes on the house even if prospective buyers can’t visit.
“Everyone is home right now, and they like to do scavenger hunts,” Jensen said. “[…] This round of 360 virtual tours has had the fanfare I was expecting a few years ago when I last did them.”