RE/MAX has added another dimension to open houses and its agents look set to attract a greater proportion of qualified buyers and renters after the national franchise signed a partnership agreement with a fast growing Australian virtual tours company.
The deal will result in the franchise – which has more than 900 members and associates across Australasia – partnering with Brisbane-based Virtual Tours Australia (VTA) to provide 3D virtual open homes on properties for sale or lease.
Under the partnership, RE/MAX agents and property managers will deliver 24/7 virtual open homes and inspections to customers in an effort to drive more qualified leads.
Early results have shown promising results, with agents already reporting soaring buyer and renter interest in listings.
RE/MAX Cairns sales agent David Murphy said hundreds of potential buyers from across the nation had virtually inspected a property in Cairns recently.
“The number of views and extra time buyers are spending in our listing, along with the incredibly affordable price, just makes it a clear choice to use in as many listings as possible,” Mr Murphy said.
“It sold to a local Cairns buyer but there was plenty of interest from interstate buyers. A number of potential buyers even flew up to Cairns for the auction after seeing the virtual tour and feeling confident in bidding.
“We wouldn’t have secured the price without the interest from southern buyers.”
VTA statistics for the Cairns property showed 519 unique groups virtually inspect the property, with a combined inspection time of 31.5 hours.
VTA CEO Josh Callaghan said the deal cemented the changing ways that buyers and renters are engaging with real estate online.
“We both have a clear purpose in the market to deliver innovation for customers and this agreement will ensure our continued commitment to the evolution of real estate,” Mr Callaghan said.
“In the past nine months, property consumer behaviour has changed significantly with the ability to provide unrestricted access to view and experience a property now more important than ever.
“Our virtual open homes enable our partners to gain unique insights into their buyers as well as attract more vendors who are keen to take advantage of this cutting-edge technology.”
VTA’s parent company Little Hinges was founded in April last year, with Mr Callaghan, who was previously Chief Operating Officer at REIQ, coming onboard in August.
He said the fledgling company experienced “a fair bit of success in the last six months” and had already engaged with agents from a range of groups.
“We’ve really wanted to focus on residential sales and leasing, and RE/MAX is the first that’s come on as a true partner in a national way, so we’re really excited about it,” he told Elite Agent.
Mr Callaghan said its interactive nature meant VTA generated far greater engagement from audiences than traditional videos.
“It’s the question that everyone needs to ask because I feel like once they wrap their head around it, it becomes an ‘aha’ moment of, ‘Oh, this is why we use it’,” he said.
“We all know that getting video views is difficult, if you produce a video and you’re getting an average view time of 60 seconds you’re in the top echelon agents, but that 60 seconds is all passive, so people could be having a chat to their mate while it’s playing, you don’t know.
“With virtual tours, it’s not only interactive – people have to drive through it – but also, the average time on a virtual tour is more than four minutes, generally.”
RE/MAX Australia Finance Director Chris Chapman said the partnership would be an essential component of the franchise’s ongoing digital transformation.
“It will complement our already successful online presentation, livestream, 3D floorplan, virtual staging, and other innovations,” Mr Chapman said.
“VTA brings a one-click property scan booking solution to RE/MAX agents, increasing efficiency, and reaching more buyers and renters more quickly.”
Under the agreement, RE/MAX will also benefit from Virtual Tours Australia proprietary customer data insights, enabling them to better serve their clients across all of their digital channels.
RE/MAX agents said they were also seeing the benefits of using virtual tours on their rental listings.
“By using strong and professional marketing tools such as 3D virtual tours and quality photography, I have increased interest in my properties by up to 70 per cent,” RE/MAX Results Property Manager Faith Williams said.
Virtual Tours Australia CEO Josh Callaghan recently sat down with Elite Managing Editor Samantha McLean to discuss how VTA came about, and where they plan to go from here. You can catch that (and a whole lot more) in the Elevate podcast on Saturday, February 20.