Plus, video-chat tours now make up 1 in 3 tour requests.
One-third of home-tour requests made by Redfin customers last week were for agent-led video-chat tours, up from less than 1% during the first week of March. Of the offers signed last week, 12% were signed by customers who had toured the home they made an offer on via video—about double the prior week’s share, and up from close to zero at the beginning of March.
Homebuyers and sellers are increasingly seeking out virtual viewings as cities across the country institute and extend stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus outbreak, and Redfin agents are finding creative ways to serve customers and help them stay safe and healthy.
“Video-chat tours are not only a great way to minimize contact with others during the current crisis, but also a cost-effective way to see homes across town or in a different city,” said Redfin lead economist Taylor Marr. “Homebuyers and sellers are becoming more comfortable with this technology, which may remain a popular way to view homes once the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, especially given many Americans may need to relocate to find work.”
One Redfin agent in Florida recently worked with a client who was relocating from New York City to Jacksonville. The family toured multiple houses via video chat before finding the one that was right for them and was able to choose their new home, make an offer and sign the deal all from their New York apartment.
When taking virtual tours, customers can choose the video service that’s most convenient for them. FaceTime is currently the most widely used program, with half of all digital showings last week conducted over the app. Zoom came in second place, at about 23% of tours.
On April 4, Redfin also began piloting live-video open houses via Zoom in three markets: Portland, OR, Boston, and Oklahoma. While video-chat tours are typically between one agent and one client, live-video open houses are accessible to numerous customers simultaneously. We conducted 10 live-video open houses this past weekend and plan to bring the service to additional markets soon.
While Redfin customers are increasingly viewing homes virtually, they’re also turning to technology to facilitate other parts of the homebuying process, including title and mortgage services. Redfin subsidiaries Title Forward and Redfin Mortgage saw digital closings spike in recent weeks. In the first five days of April, 10% of deals that were closed with Title Forward were done electronically, up from an average of 3% in March and 1% in February. At Redfin Mortgage, about 12% of April closings are expected to be entirely virtual—twice the share we saw in March and up from zero in February.
In addition to being among the first to offer entirely electronic closings for title and mortgage services, Redfin is the only brokerage to offer three-dimensional Matterport tours across its nationwide listings. In 2014, we began providing these interactive virtual walkthroughs, which allow customers to explore every nook and cranny of a home without leaving the couch. So far in April, we have seen views of these walkthroughs double from the prior month. Redfin.com will soon launch a map that shows which homes have 3D scans and allows customers to filter search results to show only those that can be toured in 3D.
Recent Coronavirus Measures
Since early March, Redfin has been implementing a variety of measures in response to the coronavirus, including encouraging homebuyers to use agent-led video-chat tours and bringing video-chat tours to mobile apps.
On March 19, we also established a company-wide COVID-19 response team that is monitoring all state and local government orders and providing guidance to our employees to ensure compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. And, on March 27, we published an online tracker for the industry that maps state and metropolitan area stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, what they mean for residential real estate and where real estate is considered an “essential service.” We are updating this resource on a regular basis.
How to schedule a live video-chat tour
Homebuyers can schedule a live tour via video-chat instantly at Redfin.com or in the Redfin app by selecting “Tour via Video Chat” next to the home they are interested in, then choosing their preferred date and time. Once the request has been submitted, a Redfin agent will reach out to confirm the live video-chat tour.
Want to know more? Check out our complete guide on how to take a live tour via video-chat with a Redfin agent.