The most critical part of the home-buying process is impressing the buyers enough for them to want to make an offer. Open houses have a pretty straightforward formula for decades. The broker will prepare a sumptuous snack bar and invite potential buyers for a home tour. Of course, this involves preparing the home for the tour, which will take potential buyers to every room in the house, including the attic and basement. It’s a time-tested formula that always, always work.
But with the advent of technology comes new ways for real estate agents to attract potential buyers. People who live in another state don’t need to spend hours on the road to see a property they want to buy. Of course, that’s still an option that many people want, but those who don’t have the time will rely on virtual tours before making their decisions.
So no, it’s not the coronavirus pandemic that pushed real estate brokers to offer virtual open houses. It’s the technology itself. Homebuyers are too busy earning to physically check out a place they can see through video conference anyway. It’s a revolution that’s been happening since before the pandemic. If anything, the coronavirus made the tours more sophisticated and necessary.
How do you prep a home for a virtual tour? Remember that this tour is akin to taking potential buyers on an actual tour of your house. You cannot miss anything. You have to show them every nook and cranny of the house—from top to bottom.
Garden, Landscape, and Yard
Every tour starts with the garden. It’s the same as having an actual open house. People will want to see how the property looks like from the street. If possible, you also need to show them the “feel” of the neighborhood. Is the house in the corner lot? These things matter to potential buyers.
Then, move on over to the yard and garden. Here’s where you need to be extra careful because a yard that’s not maintained properly will look bad on video. Spruce it up by trimming the grass and using commercial grass blower equipment to remove the debris. You can even use the blower to clean the crevices of the windowpanes. Your property will look more attractive when the yard is well-kept.
Clean the house and organize everything. Make sure the surfaces are sparkling clean, so they look great on video. Remove furniture if possible because they obstruct from the view of the whole room. When touring potential buyers, open the windows so that natural light can stream into the room. That will create a glow that will make the rooms more attractive.
You’ll find that most homebuyers are particular about the kitchen. What is the countertop made of? Is there enough storage space? Even people who don’t love to cook like having a spacious and well-equipped kitchen. People who love to entertain particularly like the kitchen to have enough space to move around. Are you selling the house with the furniture? If so, clean the refrigerator. Remove leftovers. Let the buyers see what they are getting.
The hallway (if there is one) leading to the bedrooms should also be clear of clutter. Keep the walls bare, too, because framed photos can make a hallway look cramp. Remember that when it comes to the home’s interior, what you’re selling to potential buyers is the space. If a decoration or furniture will make the home look cramped, remove it.
Finally, clean the basement and attic. Maybe the new owners will use them as storage space, too, but that’s their problem and not yours. Let them see what they’re getting by cleaning the space as much as you can. Organize the boxes. Keep them on one side of the room and let the viewers see how much space they can get in the basement and attic.
You can choose among these five platforms when creating a virtual tour of the house: live walkthrough, pre-recorded walkthrough, professional video, self-navigable tour, and virtual showing. But regardless of the type of tour you offer, your home needs to look the part. The three rules when prepping the home for a sell are deep clean, declutter, and depersonalize. The last one will make the potential buyers see the house as their own and not yours.
These virtual open houses are nothing new. They have made the jobs of real estate brokers easier the past couple of years. They will help them survive the changes in the industry, too, because of the pandemic. Virtual open houses might have taken away the excitement of seeing the place in person, but thanks to technology, it’s also not going to be that different.