The COVID-19 pandemic has not just caused a significant change in project deadlines and designing, but also in the way real estate sales are conducted.

With the lockdown and stringent social distancing norms in place despite relaxations in rules, real estate agents have had to take the aid of technology to do their jobs.

 

3D Virtual Tours are the new norm.

The current COVID 19 pandemic has affected every sector across Canada, and real estate is no exception. Due to the social distancing norms, buyers are wary of visiting new properties. Virtual tours, a nascent but growing technology pre-crisis, are rapidly gaining traction in lockdown times – and could become a mainstay of the commercial real estate transaction process.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, virtual tours were largely the domain of the residential lettings sector, although they had limited use among commercial occupiers and investors. Attitudes have changed significantly in just a few months.

 

Virtual Tours have helped every industry.

As more industries shift to remote working during the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses are having to make fundamental changes to their everyday processes. For commercial real estate, that means that property tours are not always possible, but leases continue to expire, and space decisions need to be made.

While there’s nothing like experiencing a space in person, virtual tours have come a long way and offer a close equivalent. In the era of physical distancing, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of this technology. While virtual tours are a necessity as long as travel remains restricted, they could have proved their worth sufficiently in just a few months to secure a longer-term place in the decision-making process.

The transformation the industry has undergone in a matter of days is immense. Changes that industry stalwarts had imagined would only happen in a distant future have happened overnight. For instance, from the time when a physical property visit was indispensable to rent or buy a property, to today where startups are seeing numerous customers finalising properties for rent, via 3D Virtual Tour Walkthroughs (Matterport)!

 

What’s included in a Virtual Tour?

For many real estate professionals currently working remotely, the list is endless. And it’s only a matter of time till more features are available to them.

From Google Street View footage to the widely-adopted 3D Virtual Tour (Matterport), is being used in the early stages of the buying or leasing process to help buyers take online showings of properties from the comfort of their homes. Real estate HDR photography provides realtors with stunning exterior photographs which acts as the first impression of their property. Floorplans help real estate buyers visualize the layout of the property. Drone videography gives a cinematic bird’s eye view overlooking the property and surrounding areas. Night/twilight shoots further impress buyers by capturing stunning exterior photos right after dark. 

Some realtors are using drones to show off property at a distance. These come in handy, as virtual tours are playing a key role. For some the coronavirus pandemic is providing some memorable firsts. Virtual open-houses are an all new way of doing business. Realtors showcase their listing to thousands of potential clients. This turnover ratio was unheard of previously.

The latest technology off the block is virtual staging, saving realtors thousands of dollars just to stage their properties for showcasing.

 

A new must-have for real estate?

An app may never replace a friendly face, but it can be an alternative for a property visit and help families choose a home that they believe is best for them, especially at a time like this when there really is no alternative. Thus far, realtors have indicated that the virtual reality tours are helpful and effective, enabling them to reach out to a bigger audience than before. This suggests that these virtual tours could play a bigger role in the future, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic lingers and beyond that.

Yet the need for a site visit remains. No investor or occupier would sign a large deal without viewing the building in person. But as real estate becomes more digital and people become more comfortable with new technology, they are trusting it more. A shift in the way things are traditionally done is inevitably going to happen in the coming years.