Video chat home tours surge during the month of April

Plus, 1 in 7 offers are now signed by customers who viewed the home virtually.

Requests for agent-led video-chat tours soared 350% last week from the same period a month ago. Of the offers signed last week, 1 in 7 were signed by customers who had toured the home they made an offer on via video, up from about 1 in 8 the prior week and close to zero at the beginning of March.

Seattle Redfin agent Mikala Murphy is working with one couple who is moving from Phoenix to Lummi Island, WA. Her clients were originally set on seeing homes in person, but were unable to due to the coronavirus outbreak, so Murphy hopped on a ferry and showed them three homes via video-chat tour.

“They had a very specific checklist: trees surrounding the home, privacy from neighbors, a deck with a view, no galley kitchen, big windows and vaulted ceilings,” Murphy said. “The last house checked all of the boxes. This is their forever home and they’re buying it completely sight-unseen.”

To complement video-chat tours, Redfin began piloting live-video open houses in Portland, OR, Boston, and Oklahoma on April 4, and has expanded the program to Redfin-listed homes in Minnesota, Raleigh and South Carolina. While video-chat tours are typically between one agent and one client, live-video open houses are accessible to numerous customers simultaneously. On April 16, Redfin began hosting these open houses on Facebook Live in addition to Zoom.

As the coronavirus continues to turn the homebuying process on its head, Redfin has also introduced features that allow more customers to view houses without an agent. On March 27, we expanded our Direct Access program to our vacant brokerage listings, letting buyers safely self-tour our sellers’ homes without having to meet an agent at the property. Buyers can use their Redfin app to unlock the door and visit these homes on their own schedule, any day of the week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To keep touring buyers safe, listings with Direct Access are professionally cleaned and sanitized at least twice a week and more frequently if they experience a high volume of tours on a particular day. 

The Direct Access program is now available to Redfin customers selling vacant homes in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Inland Empire, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Springs, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura County. We plan to expand this option to additional markets, beginning with Phoenix in early May.

Redfin is also 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 or consulting an agent. As of April 19, views of these walkthroughs had climbed 300% since the beginning of March. This week, Redfin.com began highlighting on a map which listings offer 3D scans, and allowing customers to filter search results to show only homes that can be toured in 3D. This feature is currently available in select markets and will be rolled out nationwide in the near future.

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.

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