The jump in virtual tours
We are already 6 months into the pandemic. Everyone’s world has changed. At Captate we have seen an increase of more than 3x in inbound queries relating to virtual tours. Now, more than ever, brokers stress the need to shorten the sales cycle, reduce marketing spend and provide business intelligence to understand buyer behavior.
We imagine that we weren’t the only company to see a silver(ish) lining to the world crisis. This jump in digitization of the real estate industry is in line with general trend for online searches of 360 and 3D tours. Google trends shows that searches for “virtual tours” in the US property sector jumped significantly since March 2020. (See image below)
The longer the pandemic goes on, the more it looks like a structural change on how property will be bought, sold, leased and developed over the next few years. As such, we are pretty confident that the increased move to digital viewings during the marketing of properties is here to stay.
The bounce of the housing market
The interest in virtual tour is being further fueled by a surprising uptick in the US of development of new properties after an initial collapse. The US housing market has also seen a post-peak-pandemic jump. We imagine that most of our readers from the real estate industry have seen headlines over the past weeks that “U.S. homebuilder confidence matches record high” and “Builder Confidence Matches All-Time High on Record Traffic” (NAHB).
Indeed, speaking of our friends at the National Association of Homebuilders, our own micro-level analysis of website traffic and inbound queries are consistent with the v-shaped recovery seen by the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) (see image below).
CRE & Digital Marketing:
Virtual tours and digitization is not only affects in the multifamily and new homes sectors. According to sources at proptech, VTS, “80% of [commercial] tenants want to experience a space online before touring it in person.” Indeed, they recently published an article title “The New Virtual Touring & Leasing Landscape“. CRE brokers, need to remember, however, that virtual tours are not a silver bullet. Like we said in a recent post, “online virtual tours are for digital marketing of spaces” – they need to be part of a well planned and executed digital strategy,
We wish our friends at VTS all the best with their new product, VTS Market, which they describe as “The industry’s chosen marketing solution for today’s digital world”. Watch that space…
We think that is safe to say that the digitization of real estate and such tools as streamed virtual tours, are here to stay, and hopefully will make the industry more efficient and robust in the long term.
As we like to say, real estate companies need to “digitize or die”!