Virtual Open Houses in the Time of Social Distancing

woman taking virtual tour of house

As the National Association of Realtors released their first guidelines in response to the spread of COVID-19, one of their early recommendations was to leverage technology to continue conducting business, including promoting current listings. In an age of social distancing, one of the best ways to limit exposure while successfully marketing your client’s home is through a virtual open house. 

If you haven’t been doing a lot with video, you may feel intimidated at the idea of streaming an open house or conducting a virtual walkthrough. However, the same things that make a successful live event contribute to a successful virtual event—friendliness, knowledge, and market expertise.

Here are seven strategies to help make your virtual open house successful—and to help you repurpose it to more effectively market your listing.

1. Promote your virtual open house ahead of time.

You don’t want to just turn on Facebook Live or IGTV and hope for the best. Promote your virtual open house the same way you would promote an IRL open house—through the local MLS, email blasts to buyer leads and fellow agents, and through your social media platforms. Give a timeframe for the virtual open house and build interest with details about the property.

2. Spend time on your tour.

You may feel somewhat camera-shy, causing you to talk too fast and rush through your presentation of the listing. A virtual open house should take time, much the way a traditional, live open house does. Aim for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of the house) of streaming as you take viewers on a virtual tour of the home.

3. Provide plenty of detailed information.

Start outside and guide viewers through the front entrance just as you would for an in-person private showing. Next, proceed through each room, ending up back outside with the outdoor spaces. Show closet space, upgrades, and finishes, as well as attention-getting extras, like the view from the bedroom or deck. You’ll want to take some time to talk about the neighborhood, local amenities, schools, and other highlights. Be sure to stop and answer questions from viewers during the livestream. You’ll find that the time flies by and before you know it you will have reached or surpassed your timing goal.

4. Consider multiple tours in a day.

If you want to make a big impact, consider a day of virtual tours for all of your current listings. Create a schedule—maybe one tour every two hours—and create 30-60 minute tours of each. Promote these heavily beforehand through email and on the day-of through social media. It’s a great way to promote both your listings and your services.

5. Find a partner to work with.

If you don’t have enough listings of your own, consider partnering with an agent in your office or on your team to show additional properties. Put together a number of agents and keep the fun going throughout the day with a series of virtual open houses, or add presentations from a local lender or title representative. The more people you partner with, the greater your sphere of influence and the more social media followers you’ll reach.

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6. Upgrade your video equipment and platforms.

We live in an age of extraordinary technology at our fingertips. However, you may want to upgrade your video capability beyond what is available on your phone. Consider upgrading your camera, optimizing lighting, or using a tripod to make your virtual open house a little more professional. Want to stream to multiple platforms simultaneously? A multi-stream switchboard can make it possible.

7. Repurpose your content for ongoing promotions.

Once your live stream is over, you’ll want to download, edit, and repurpose the virtual open house as video content for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and at your website. Follow up your previous email with a link to the tour, and invite those who couldn’t attend the live broadcast to catch up. If you collaborated with other agents or affiliates, share their content on your platforms—and send them your links to share, as well.

Whether you’re adept at creating video content or just starting out in response to social distancing guidelines, you may just find that virtual open houses become a favorite platform for promoting your listings. In response to increased demand, many providers are offering special rates and enhanced services to make your virtual open houses even more effective.

Most of all, be yourself and have fun with your virtual open house. Bring your personality, your sense of humor, your second-to-none market expertise—whatever makes you the best agent in your market—and use it to engage your fans and followers to get that listing sold.

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