Open Houses are Returning. But Don’t Abandon Virtual Tours

Open Houses are Returning. But Don’t Abandon Virtual Tours

As stay-at-home measures are eased across the country, buyer actions are increasing week over week, new listings are slowly ticking up, and live, in-person open houses are starting to make a comeback after nearly two months of all-time low activity levels. 

In fact, according to Homesnap data, this past week saw the number of in-person open houses reach their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic.

Source: Homesnap

New questions emerge amid rising open houses

While the data is certainly another encouraging sign the market is rebounding, it should be noted that open house invitations are still down—by as much as 75%— when compared to May of 2019. Of course, that is almost certainly due to the relative recency of lifted stay-at-home advisories and low levels of inventory. As restrictions loosen and more sellers enter the market over the coming weeks and months, it’s not unreasonable to expect the number of open houses hosted per week to more closely resemble last year, following a similar trajectory to buyer activity levels earlier this month.

But can we expect the same from attendance?  Stay-at-home advisories are being lifted, but all states still have social distancing guidelines in place. How will that affect open house policies?  Will less homebuyers be allowed inside at a time?  Will open house hours have to be extended to stagger admittance and accommodate the same number of prospects as years prior, and if so, will sellers oblige to turning over their home for longer periods?  Will high-risk or immunocompromised buyers forgo open houses entirely?

We’ll have to wait and see for answers to these questions, but to cover their bases, agents should not consider the return of open houses as a reason to abandon virtual showings altogether.  Instead, they should use the tactics they’ve employed over these past few months, namely those virtual tours, open houses, and walkthroughs, in conjunction with more “traditional” in-person open house marketing.  In doing so, they can ensure they’re capturing the interest of the maximum number of buyers and sellers.

Three ways to market your open house, both virtually and not, as the market comes back

Continue to create virtual walkthroughs to appear on your listing pages

As you know, virtual tours and walkthroughs are an effective way to replicate the traditional, in-person open house experience.

In using Homesnap Stories, you can add a video tour of yourself walking throughout a property directly to your listing page on Homesnap, highlighting key amenities and allowing prospective buyers to see a property in a way that is difficult to convey from photos.  You can also go to your MLS data feed and instead of marking your listing as a regular open house, you can designate it as virtual. Homesnap will then tag the listing as having a virtual open house accordingly.

In these videos, you can also record yourself addressing prospective buyers directly to show your understanding of the situation and assuage the concerns of those who might be hesitant to attend an open house by, for example, discussing the ability to book private, in-person showings.  A little bit of compassion goes a long way.

After using Homesnap (and if your MLS Supports it), hey can go to the data feed where they would normally mark a regular open house and designate as virtual. we will then tag a listing as having a virtual open house accordingly. 

This virtual tours blog will walk you through getting started, step-by-step.

Repurpose these virtual tours in your online marketing

We covered it in an earlier blog, which you can read here, but many consumer-facing publications are urging buyers to seek out digital savvy agents in the wake of COVID-19.  You can already push out Homesnap Stories directly to your social media feeds, but we recommend repurposing these tours into your paid marketing tactics.

Advertising on Facebook and Instagram has never been cheaper, and Instagram’s video ad platform makes an ideal, unobtrusive vehicle to showcase compelling videos to attract homebuyers, particularly younger and first-time ones. 

Additionally, the analytics reports you receive from these campaigns can be easily shared to your sellers via the Homesnap app, which is a surefire way to demonstrate that you’re the type of motivated, digitally adept agent today’s consumers are looking for.

If you’re already going to create a virtual walkthrough, why not maximize efficacy and put it to work for you? 

Advertise your in-person open house on Waze

There have been numerous think pieces written about how COVID-19 will affect travel and commute, and many of them believe consumers will be driving their personal vehicles far more often than they did prior to the pandemic.

Waze’s platform allows you to target users using the company’s GPS platform.  Waze offers three types of advertisements that allow you to safely target drivers within a specified radius of a target location (your open house)

When a user clicks on any of these ads, they’ll be offered an option to (re)direct their GPS navigation to your intended location.  Waze advertisements are particularly effective in removing a lot of the friction (e.g.,[mis]remembering an address, getting lost on the way) that can come from attending an open house. 

You can read a complete guide to advertising on Waze here

How Homesnap can help

Homesnap Pro Ads automates the ad buying process and can help you market your open house on both Waze and Instagram. Our experience running thousands of advertising campaigns at any given time, in combination with our ability to leverage our consumer behavior for deeper insights, allows us to more precisely target motivated buyers and sellers.

Agents who use Homesnap Pro Ads will never have to create ads from scratch or have an extensive knowledge of digital marketing to ensure they’re running fully optimized, targeted campaigns.

Learn more about Homesnap Pro Ads