Home Selling Goes Virtual

Technology has permeated many facets of our lives – our smartphones seem to be glued to our hands and communication across countries has become easy and affordable through apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype. It’s no wonder that this technology has made its way into real estate.

In the current, low inventory market, when a home does go up for sale, buyers pounce and competition becomes fierce, making efficiency and immediacy increasingly pertinent. That’s where the convenience of video streaming comes in.

With video streaming apps like Skype, FaceTime and Periscope, real estate agents can give virtual live tours to clients who can’t physically be at a home to view it. This allows out-of-state buyers and buyers with a busy schedule to have a fair shot at making an offer.

For example, California-based agent Jordan Clarke was driving on the freeway when he received a panicked phone call from clients in Washington, D.C. to tell him a home in Del Mar had just gone on the market. The race had begun. There are few homes for sale in the affluent coastal city, and, chances were, other agents had clients interested too. Clarke pulled off the freeway, called the listing agent, got into the home and pulled out his cellphone to show live video to his East Coast clients of the home’s interior. The clients were impressed by what they saw, made an offer and in just a few hours, the home sold for $1.1 million — beating out a higher offer an hour later from another agent.

The value of live streaming in real estate has been recognized as real estate brokerage Redfin has incorporated a Live Video Tour function that allows users to have an agent take them through the home with his or her phone. It is the first time a real estate company has set up live streaming connected directly to a listing. Redfin says it has been used mostly by local buyers who have had a long day at work and don’t have the time, or energy, to go to a listing in person.

Mark Goldman, a finance and real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, said the real estate industry is quick to adapt to new technologies. “You fast-forward to today where you can get real-time video streaming on a property, people can negotiate from around the world, send documents in a service like DocuSign. It’s just another way technology increases efficiencies and transactions,” he said. The lack of new home inventory will continue to push the industry to innovate and be aggressive.

What technologies are you using in your business to help clients in the competitive market? Have you used video streaming to show a property?

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