As social distancing and stay-at-home orders become the new norm, the way we do everything from business to family dinners has changed. In a world of virtual game nights, online happy hours, and grocery delivery, it’s no surprise that buying and selling homes has turned to the internet, too. And there are some pretty cool new innovations making virtual real estate happen!
Virtual Real Estate: Made Possible by These Innovations
Twenty, or even ten, years ago, would virtual real estate have been possible? Certainly not like it is today! In fact, the online home shopping experience is so robust, it could one day replace the in-person experience all together.
Here are some interesting innovations that make it happen.
Online home searches
Online home searches definitely aren’t uncommon—long before the pandemic, buyers, sellers, and casual browsers alike turned to sites like Zillow and Trulia to see what was on the market.
But home searches have come a long way in a short time. Searches are now incredibly versatile and customizable. You can specify exactly what you want in a home—size, style, amenities, and more. You can even set price, location, age… and a whole lot more.
Like online searches, virtual tours aren’t really a new thing, but they are definitely becoming more common (and better quality!) as real estate shifts to a more virtual experience. A virtual tour is a non-interactive simulation of a home, usually consisting of video clips or a sequence of images, designed to give a viewer a more in-depth look at the home.
Unlike a photo gallery, a virtual tour usually involves more careful placement of photo or video footage to give a better idea of the flow of the home’s floorplan and layout.
(Psst: With our special online search, you can search only homes with virtual tours!)
3D virtual tours
Taking the virtual tour a step further, 3D tours are an interactive 360-degree three-dimensional experience designed to give the viewer a fully immersive touring experience. They’re typically created using a special 3D camera, and definitely aren’t as common as regular virtual tours.
Using the arrow keys or mouse (for a computer) or touchscreen (for phone), the viewer of a 3D tour is able to “walk” through the house, turn around, look up and down, revisit rooms, and fully explore the space, just as they might in an in-person showing.
Virtual home showings
Okay, so what happens when you find a home you love and you really want to get in and take a closer look? Real estate is considered an “essential business” here in the Triangle, so you could take an in-person tour, but for the safety of yourself (and your household) and the seller, it’s probably best if you stay put.
That’s where the virtual home showing comes in. Using a video chat platform like Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, you can let your agent be your eyes (and your nose and hands) while you sit in the driver’s seat from the comfort of your couch.
A virtual showing combines the interactive experience of a 3D tour with a personalized experience of actually walking through a home with an agent—asking questions, getting more information, seeing the house up close and personal.
Nowadays, even signatures can be done online, thanks to programs like DocuSign. No fancy technology necessary here! Your agent or lender should be able to send you a link to a very secure platform that’s able to verify your identity and allow you to adopt a “virtual signature”.
For paperwork that requires notarization, there are even online notary services available—though this might not be acceptable to all parties involved in the transaction.
Virtual Real Estate… Is Very Real!
The bottom line is that all the amazing modern technology we have today has made it very possible to buy and sell homes online. Almost every part of the transaction can be done from the comfort of home, and the entire process requires minimal in-person interaction.
Questions about virtual home buying or selling?
If you’ve got questions or concerns about any part of the virtual real estate process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 220 Agents at any time! We’d be more than happy to answer any virtual home buying or virtual home selling questions.