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Home-Video Tours Skyrocket Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak

Redfin reports that it has seen a 494% weekly increase in requests for agent-led video home tours. 

As of March 22, 18.9% of tour requests for agents were video-chat tour requests, which is up from 0.2% at the beginning of March. 

Other measures Redfin has taken to combat COVID-19 include:

  • Three-dimensional scans of nearly every Redfin listing, replacing open-houses with an online, interactive experience. In 2014, Redfin invested in these scans as a standard feature for the majority of homes listed by Redfin, but now views of these scans are up 9% in March as compared to February. 
  • Electronic closings, which Redfin brought to the market in November 2018, mean notary services and the entire closing process can be conducted online if permitted by a state. To protect the health of our customers and employees, the company has shifted every possible closing to this format.
  • A wide range of new policies, first instituted on March 3, to protect the health of our customers, agents, photographers, and others, limiting in-person customer meetings and blocking anyone with cold or flu symptoms from participating in those meetings.
  • New protocols for listing consultations to let agents see the home when no one is present, then confer with the homeowner online. 
  • An industry-wide live-stream event on Thursday, March 19, for sharing best practices with competing brokerages, so we can all stay open and close sales together while protecting public health.

Redfin encouraged buyers to ask for video-char tours on March 3 and on March 17 Redfin upgraded its tour-request forms to let buyers choose a video-chat tour. Redfin allowed users to choose their preferred video-chat tool on March 19 and on March 22 video-chat tours are available on the iOS app. A release states this will soon be available on the Android app as well. 

"The future of real estate has come earlier than any of us could have anticipated," said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. "The way things are during the pandemic won't last forever, but at the end of all this, things won't go back to the way they were either. We hope we're well prepared."

Redfin states agents have adapted during these uncertain times to make buyers feel like they’re at the home with the agent. 

"During video tours, I become the eye of the buyer," said Indianapolis Redfin agent Jill Thompson. "I'm talking more than I would on a traditional tour, pointing out things that would be obvious in-person but that isn't as clear through a camera lens, like the quality of workmanship on any repairs or whether or not a room would fit a king-size bed."

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.

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