The MHInsider blog for Manufactured Housing Professionals strongly encourages readers to follow guidelines provided by local, state, and national authorities (including the CDC) regarding COVID-19 safety procedures.
Virtual Tours on the Rise for Home Sellers, Homebuyers
For many years, virtual tours existed near the periphery of the home buying process — nice to offer on a listing but not yet ready for prime time.
But the fight against the spread of COVID-19, including restrictions on group gatherings and other social and economic norms, puts virtual tours in the real estate spotlight like never before.
One big reason: they help prospective manufactured home buyers practice shelter-in-place and social distancing practices espoused by health experts. The National Association of Realtors reports that the average home buyer visits 10 homes over 10 weeks before a purchase, and those numbers seem untenable in today’s climate. However, accessing a listing directly from a desktop or laptop computer practically eliminates risk from the home shopping equation.
If you, your brokerage, or your community is considering a virtual tour — a digital simulation of a property that leverages video, photos, and imagery — here are five virtual tour best practices to consider.
Review Your Software
When it comes to real estate virtual tour software, there are many from which to choose. The particular use-case will help determine which one you select:
- Is a comprehensive, all-in-one solution necessary?
- Will collecting the various digital assets to compose a virtual tour be an issue?
- At what resolution will prospective buyers view the virtual tour?
There are some good options out there. Take a quick look at one of the top search results for leading real estate virtual tour software packages.
If photographing model homes — and COVID-19 best practices allow for it — consider professional photographers who offer Matterport Virtual Tour services or a similar service.
Set the Stage
Just as with an in-person tour, the property must look its best. That means:
- Cleaning, decluttering and removing personal items from all rooms
- Lighting the space well, with natural and artificial light as necessary
- Staging spaces to accentuate their best features and future possibilities
To extend the theater metaphor just a bit further, rehearse a walk-through before the cameras roll. This includes capturing video, still images, or 3D virtual tour/360-degree virtual tour display.
If the virtual tour is for a model home, put away any marketing materials such as flyers, posters, and table tents.
A tip: Creating a list of each room and its most attractive qualities will help ensure that all footage necessary to create an effective virtual tour is captured.
Look at Live Tours
Several popular online destinations now incorporate live video into their platforms, including:
Add device-focused Skype from Microsoft and FaceTime from Apple and home sellers today can host their own broadcasts and make the home listing the star of the show.
In the right circumstances — perhaps a currently unoccupied listing cleaned beforehand to the CDC’s recommendations — arranging a live video walkthrough for a prospective manufactured home buyer is a relatively straightforward process.
One caveat: Reliable network connectivity is a must. Fortunately, there are several tools to help gauge connection speeds. One of the simplest ways to check internet speed is to do a Google search for “internet speed test”, then click the blue “Run Speed Test” button on the top search result.
Offer a Different Perspective
There are few real estate offerings as attractive as a manufactured home nestled within a great land-lease community. Yet, highlighting those offerings can be a challenge in a crowded market.
To play up any especially distinctive features of a listing, consider drone footage of the property and surrounding area. Proximity to a community center, pool, play area, or beautiful natural splendor may add distinction to a virtual tour.
Get Up Close and Personal
Even the best virtual tours cannot completely replicate the experience of being on-site … but they can come closer if you implement these virtual tour best practices and offer buyers a thorough sense of a home’s condition.
That’s because manufactured home buyers aren’t just interested in the general characteristics of a home. They want to know whether the carpet is worn, whether there’s any water damage near the windows, what sort of shape the roof is in, and other similar detail.
It’s easy to share this information. Increase the frequency and scope of close-ups at a listing during live video or more traditional virtual tour offerings.
Read More from the MHInsider blog for Manufactured Housing Professionals
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Looking for more about marketing manufactured homes? MHInsider’s marketing-related posts include Analytics Matter: Fundamental Metrics to Understand Your Web Traffic and Manufactured Housing Industry Trends and Statistics.