Home buying process goes virtual amid the statewide stay-at-home order

Business has been consistent for some realtors, but there is concern it’ll change as the coronavirus death toll continues to rise and the stay-at-home order was extended until the end of May.

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Virtual 3D tours by Matterport have replaced in-person property tours as realtors adjust to circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual 3D tours by Matterport have replaced in-person property tours as realtors adjust to circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zach Kogut, Weinberg Choi Residential

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the process of purchasing real estate has altered. Some still want to get physical with the property, while others are fine with virtual viewings.

Some of Rodessa Joiner’s clients still prefer the in-person approach, and for them she has developed what she likes to call her “COVID-19 showing package.”

“I’ve provided wipes, sanitizers, gloves and masks so that if someone schedules an appointment and they arrive and have forgotten anything, each one has a kit they can provide to whoever is walking through their homes,” said Joiner, a broker with Realty Services Consortium.

In order to reach buyers who may be a bit more hesitant to view properties in-person, Joiner and her colleagues have embraced different forms of technology to take the place of traditional showings.

“It’s important that we as brokers are equipping ourselves with the tools in order to reach the consumers and our clients,” she said. “We have been hosting virtual open-house tours, and there are other platforms, such as Facebook Live, that allow us to continue to reach our clients.”

During the stay-at-home order, any property that is currently tenant-occupied can only be viewed virtually, according to Zach Kogut, broker with Weinberg Choi Residential.

“There is a service called Matterport, which allows [potential buyers] to take a virtual 3D tour of the home as if you are actually in it,” Kogut said. “[The software] works with the VR Oculus goggles, and it also works with a service offered by Google called Cardboard.

Virtual 3D tours by Matterport have replaced in-person property tours as realtors adjust to circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual 3D tours by Matterport have replaced in-person property tours as realtors adjust to circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zach Kogut, Weinberg Choi Residential

“You are able to download an app on your phone, link it to the listing you are interested in and you turn your phone sideways and you are essentially walking through the home. We have seen a lot of success [using virtual tours] narrowing down our searches.”

Kogut believes virtual tours will remain a preferred way for potential buyers to see homes, even after things start to return to normal, as a way to minimize time spent outside.

“If a buyer wants to go out and see seven homes when the pandemic is all over, I would recommend that we do a virtual tour of those homes and narrow things down to the top three we would like to see in person,” Kogut said.

The demand for homes and the introduction of new clients also has increased during the pandemic, as working from home has led some potential buyers to realize they aren’t satisfied with their current living spaces, Quentin Randle, a broker with Ani Real Estate said.

“I have had new clients say, ‘Hey, I’ve been working from home with my wife and kids, and I’m seeing that we need more space; I’m going to get pre-approved for a loan,’ or they are concerned with a COVID-19 outbreak in their apartment complex, so they want to look for their own space,” Randle said.

Business has been consistent for Randle, but he’s concerned it’ll change as the coronavirus death toll continues to rise and the stay-at-home order was extended until the end of May.

“For now, the market has been in good shape, but if we are this way for a few more months and people remain unemployed or unable to work, I’m not sure what things will look like going forward, even into next year,” he said.

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