Brokerage Says Video Home Tour Requests Spike 500% Share

Home selling goes on, even as the COVID-19 outbreak causes mass closures across the U.S. Real estate pros have quickly adapted their businesses to market homes for sale online, and Redfin says it appears to be working.

The brokerage announced a 494% increase in requests for agent-led video home tours last week. That followed an 80% increase the week prior. The majority of the requests were made for video-chat tours.

“The future of real estate has come earlier than any of us could have anticipated,” says Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “The way things are during the pandemic won’t last forever, but at the end of all this, things won’t go back to the way they were either. We hope we’re well prepared.”

The brokerage Compass has rolled out new Virtual Agents Services tools to its agents. Agents can send clients live video postcards, virtual reality home tours, 3D house staging, real-time interactive virtual showings, and virtual neighborhood walks. Other brokerages also report that they’re conducting showings and office meetings using FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or other video services.

Anthony Marguleas, a real estate pro with Amalfi Estates in Pacific Palisades, Calif., created a three-minute video tutorial of how he uses Zoom.

Visitors to can request video chat tours from agents by clicking a single button. They can use the video chat app of their choice, too. Redfin is also making technology available so purchasers will be able to review and sign their purchase contracts electronically, in states where it’s permitted.

“During video tours, I become the eye of the buyer,” says Jill Thompson, a real estate pro with Redfin in Indianapolis. “I’m talking more than I would on a traditional tour, pointing out things that would be obvious in person but that aren’t as clear through a camera lens, like the quality of workmanship on any repairs, or whether or not a room would fit a king-size bed.”

How to Keep Your Phone, Laptop and Car Germ-Free

Cell phones and other everyday objects could potentially carry the coronavirus. Washing your hands and disinfecting areas frequently touched are the best strategies for stopping the spread of germs, according to the CDC.

For real estate pros, that also likely means paying careful attention to your laptop, car, and keys (particularly your clients’ keys). Homesnap, a real estate search portal, recently spoke with medical expert Amanda Nemecz to learn the most important strategies for keeping your tech and everyday objects clean.

How to Disinfect a Home Correctly

“Soap and water are one of the most effective weapons in keeping germs and viruses at bay,” Nemecz told Homesnap. “We advise people not to share screens and devices, and to wipe down frequently used items with soap or antibacterial cleaners, especially if others have been in contact with them.”

Homesnap also offers these tips for keeping common objects and surfaces clean daily:

Smartphones: Your smartphone should be disinfected two times per day. To effectively kill a virus or germs on your phone, use a disinfectant solution of at least 55% isopropyl alcohol. “Apple and Google have both confirmed that it is OK to use wipes that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol and it will not damage the phone,” Homesnap notes.

Laptops: Similar to your smartphone, wipe your laptop down two times per day with an antibacterial alcohol wipe (Clorox, Lysol, etc.) of at least 55% isopropyl alcohol, Homesnap advises. To clean the keyboard, lightly dampen a Q-Tip to get in between the keys.

Cars: The main areas to focus on cleaning in a car include door handles, the steering wheel, the shifter, seat belt buckles, and radio controls. You should quickly wipe down these frequently touched surfaces every time you return to your car after being in public. You can do this easily with disinfectant wipes or even soap and water. “Soap and water remains one of the most highly effective solutions to fight viruses and germs regardless if it has antibacterial properties or not,” Homesnap reports.

Keys: Car and house keys should be cleaned with soap and water (for non-electronic keys) or antibacterial wipes once per day. Keep your keys in your pocket or bag when out in public. Similar to washing your hands, wiping down the surface for at least 20 seconds allows the soap time to fully break down the virus or germs.