As the coronavirus upends the buying process, house hunters are increasingly relying on Redfin’s virtual technology for viewing and closing on homes.
Redfin saw a 494% increase in requests for agent-led video home tours last week, following an 80% increase the prior week, as homebuyers began relying heavily on virtual viewings amid the coronavirus outbreak. As of yesterday, 18.9% of tour requests made on Redfin.com were video-chat tour requests, up from 0.2% at the beginning of March—a 94-fold increase.
Along with live video-chat tours, prospective buyers can see the inside of nearly any Redfin-listed home with three-dimensional scans, powered by Matterport. Views of these 3D walkthroughs—which have been available for Redfin-listed homes since 2014—are up 9% in March as compared to February. Redfin expects to host nearly half a million of these virtual open houses this month.
“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.”
On March 3, Redfin updated its website to encourage buyers to ask for video-chat tours from agents. Customers can choose this option with a single click, and can select the video-chat app of their choice. They can also review and sign their purchase contracts electronically; in states where the law allows it, customers using Redfin’s mortgage and title service can close electronically.
“People are being forced to adjust their lifestyles as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and it could widely influence the nature of how buyers tour homes in the future,” said Seattle Redfin associate agent Edward Winkle. “We’re already seeing an upswing in video tours, and that trend will likely continue even when COVID-19 is in the past.”
Winkle has led three video home tours since the coronavirus outbreak started and said all have led to offers.
“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 aren’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.”
Other steps Redfin is taking
- Redfin’s priority is keeping its customers and its employees safe. To that end, the company last week canceled all open houses until further notice. Customers can still schedule in-person tours with agents in cities where local public health ordinances permit it, although no more than two customers are allowed on such tours, and agents won’t ask customers to shake hands, staying six feet away from them throughout the tour. Redfin has asked its agents and all prospective homebuyers who are experiencing any cold or flu symptoms to stay home or set up a video-chat tour instead of an in-person tour.
- To protect the health of our customers and employees, Redfin has shifted every possible closing to an electronic format.
- Redfin has new protocols for listing consultations to let agents see the home when no one is present, then confer with the homeowner online.
- We held an industry-wide live-stream event on March 19 to share best practices with competing brokerages so we can all stay open and close sales together, while protecting public health.
How to schedule a live video-chat tour
Homebuyers can schedule a live tour via video-chat instantly at Redfin.com or in the Redfin app by selecting “Tour via Video Chat” next to the home they are interested in, then choosing their preferred date and time. Once the request has been submitted, a Redfin Agent will reach out to confirm the live video-chat tour.
Want to know more? Check out our complete guide on how to take a live tour via video-chat with a Redfin Agent.