TAMPA, Fla. -- Realtors always relied on beautiful pictures and video to sell homes. But, the pandemic is changing its business model to go nearly all virtual and using some hi-tech software to sell homes sight unseen.
The technology to buy a home and feel comfortable about it from your couch is getting better.
Software company Matterport is revolutionizing home buying with immersive software that allows a customer to tour the home in full 3-D.
"It gives you a full view of the space," Robin Daniels, the Chief Marketing Officer for Matterport, said. "Not only can you view it as if you were there, but you can start measuring up, let me see how big that couch is, how big that wall is, can I fit a new countertop here and so on."
Daniels said since the pandemic; the company has seen unbelievable interest from customers.
"We have more new account signups in the first week of May than we did in the last eight years of being in business," Daniels said. "That is how much engagement we are seeing on our platform, and we are just seeing virtual tours skyrocket."
The software allows a customer to measure walls, the distance between rooms, and show multiple layers of floor plans to explore the home.
"We are seeing millions of views every single day on our platform," Daniels said. "The data shows we've talked to thousands of both buyers and sellers and houses with a Matterport tour sell 20% faster and 9% higher cost. So, when you think of it that way, it's kind of a no brainer."
Realtors are also producing more high-quality videos linked to social media to sell homes.
"You have to make people still feel connected," Stella Tornabene, a realtor with Align Right Realty said. "So, we used technology to be digitally connected, but we stayed emotionally connected. Making virtual real estate personal real estate."
Tornabene sold two homes to clients during the pandemic sight unseen.
Realtors were considered essential during the lockdown. But, for nearly two months, open houses were not allowed, forcing Tornabene to get creative.
"We were doing virtual open houses. No one would be in the home," Tornabene said. "We would go to the home and just do everything virtually. So, that video feed would either be linked to my Facebook business page, or it would go through IGTV, YouTube or Vimeo, technology we used it to our advantage."
While products like Matterport allow customers to use hi-tech software to sell homes, real estate photographers are still in high demand.
"I definitely have not had a problem working, and it's a good thing," photographer and videographer Robi Tempfer said. "Video is the new curb appeal, so you need to really stick out in that production and at least get on the list of homes to see in person."
According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, a housing rebound is underway.
"Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 21 points to 58 in June," according to their latest data.
But, new surges in coronavirus cases will keep some buyers and sellers hesitant to go into homes, making online shopping a new norm for the foreseeable future.