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The real estate industry turns to virtual tours to keep it moving forward

COVID-19 is seeing the real estate industry rapidly ramp up its use of technology, with virtual tours among the tools which are being embraced to keep transactions flowing.

On the back of the social distancing measures imposed by the Government, real estate agents and property managers alike have had to alter the ways in which they allow potential buyers and renters to view properties.

The first stage was moving away from open homes to appointment-only viewings – a move that the industry made ahead of the imposed ban on group gatherings. The next stage appears to be using technology to improve the process further.

As uncertainty in the real estate industry mounts by the day, technology providers that can assist agents and property managers do their jobs in this climate have been high demand.

Tom Dorawa, the founder of VirtualToursCreator.com.au is already seeing overwhelming demand for his company’s platform as the industry is forced to change its approach.

“Things have gone through the roof. That was unexpected. We are now trying to help as many businesses as possible,” Mr Dorawa said.

“It is a huge responsibility but we are doing our best to train everyone as soon as possible. We are in complete home isolation to make sure we deliver all the cameras and training on time without interruptions.”

Virtual Tours Creator is an end-to-end service that helps agents and property managers create virtual tours to help showcase properties to buyers, renters, and even landlords.

They also offer extensive training and support so that agents can create virtual tours in a matter of minutes.

Tara Bradbury of Active Agents at Hervey Bay is using Virtual Tours Creator to help attract new tenants during this tricky time for property managers.

“I’m finding it extremely beneficial, particularly for the tenant inspection side of the business,” Ms Bradbury said.

“For those who can’t physically be there, they can still put an application in and I can continue that side of the conversation afterwards.”

Ms Bradbury also noted she found the level of support important when adopting the new technology.

“The training and support I think is fantastic. Just picking the phone up and being able to talk to Tom and the team is really beneficial,” she said.

In recent years, virtual tours have been growing as a tool for agents, but with the recent Government lockdown on certain industries, Mr Dorawa feels this crisis might end up being the catalyst for widespread adoption of the technology.

“It’s a very unfortunate time in the property industry particularly if everything goes into lockdown. But what that means is that people need to use virtual tours to protect themselves,” Mr Dorawa said.

“If, for example, property managers create a virtual tour of all of their properties, people will still be able to inspect them, even if we go into lockdown.”

Mr Dorawa feels that even after lockdowns end, virtual tours will continue to play a key role in how the industry operates – given the safety that they provide.

“Even after the Coronavirus, people aren’t just going to rush back to open homes. We’ll need virtual tours to help get us out of the difficult situation we are already in.

“That might even be the tipping point where virtual tours become a staple like a floorplan or a video. This has been an eye-opener for everyone involved.”

Even before the recent crisis, users of virtual tours, such as agents and property managers, had been utilising the tool to do their job more effectively. Mr Dorawa believes this is where the real hidden benefits lie.

“Our current customers are simply able to do their jobs better. They have their 360 camera, they have been trained by us. Instead of answering the same question 10 times, they can direct people to the virtual tour that will answer all their questions.”

Virtual tours for property management

One of the biggest innovations with virtual tours in recent months has also been the ability to use them in property management. Previously the management side of the industry had been slow to adopt the technology because of the cost involved.

Joel Davis from Image Property in Brisbane has been using virtual tours throughout the property inspection process and has found it to be highly effective for time management.

“We use it as an entry condition report of every single property we do. It doesn’t replace the written entry condition report, it works in conjunction with it,” Mr Davis said.

“We actually had to take significantly less photos because the virtual tours put everything into perspective, so at that point in time we’re taking photos of damage or of items that need to have photos taken of them, as opposed to taking a photo of every single thing for the sake of it.”

One of the main drawbacks of virtual tours has in the past been the high costs, making it prohibitive for the likes of rental properties.

However, services such as Virtual Tours Creator are able to feature for as little as a few dollars each. That also opens the door for property managers to use the process for both rental inspections and even property condition reports.

Online ingoing condition report for a rental property – Jason Partridge from Patterson Real Estate

Mr Dorawa believes that more and more principals will be adopting the technology and some never even realised the real scope of how they could be used.

“There are a number of agencies out there that are using virtual tours for sales and they don’t even know they can actually use it for property management,” he said.

“Imagine sending a property report in the form of a virtual tour to a landlord. They love that. And that will often replace those leads that might not be coming from an open house.”

Rob Woolmer, BDM at LJHooker City Residential in Perth, has seen the speed at which properties are being leased jump since they implemented virtual tours.

“Since implementing VTC tours, our leasing efficiency has increased significantly. Of all the properties we have implemented this feature on, most will go within 1-2 weeks of listing – we are in a 60-day marketplace,” Mr Woolmer said.

“Virtual tours are probably the best thing I’ve adopted into my business – probably ever.”

Mr Dorawa is also starting to see property managers and leasing agents generate new leads, thanks to how impressed tenants, landlords and buyers are with the process.

“We are seeing that landlords are recommending property managers who are using virtual tours to their family and friends and that’s how you can generate a lot of new leads as well,” he said.

With the uncertainty in the real estate industry only growing by the day, adopting virtual tours is one way agents and property managers will be able to regain some form of control in the current volatile climate.

For more information, contact Virtual Tours Creator

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