Facing a global situation, many real estate agents are coming up with interactive ways to sell homes online. Virtual open houses have become a popular way for potential buyers to learn more about properties and get their questions answered – right from the comfort of their own home. These online events allow listing agents to capture new buyer leads, grow their online presence, and sell listings faster. The process of putting on a virtual open house may seem overwhelming, but our step-by-step guide will show how easy it is for any agent to host an open house, online.
What is a Virtual Open House?
There has been some confusion about what a virtual open house is and what it isn’t. A virtual open house is a live event where a potential buyer can view a listing and get their questions answered in real time. The virtual open house is promoted beforehand, just like a traditional open house and takes place at specific date and time, online. Multiple buyers and agents can show up for a virtual open house at the same time.
A virtual open house is not a simple link to a virtual tour or a pre-recorded listing video. While these types of media can and should be used during virtual open house, on their own, they do not have the same interactive components of a virtual open house. A virtual open house always has a live portion, where buyers can ask questions and talk to the listing agent live.
Check out the example, below. You can see potential buyers asking questions and interacting with agent during the tour:
What Platform Should I Use To Host a Virtual Open House?
Logistically, hosting a virtual open house is a lot easier than most real estate agents think. The best free platforms to use right now are Facebook Live and Zoom because of buyers’ familiarity with these two services.
Both Facebook Live and Zoom have screen sharing capabilities, so real estate agents can use pre-recorded listing videos or virtual tours during their virtual open house. Zoom offers step-by-step instructions on how to share your screen. And while Facebook Live requires an easy-to-install Chrome Plugin, it is seamlessly integrated.
What Format Should I Use for My Virtual Open House?
There are two options for the format for your virtual open house. You can screen share using pre-recorded materials and virtual tours or you can go live from the property. There are pros and cons to both of these options.
Pre-recorded materials include screen sharing virtual tours or pre-recorded video tours in real time. Buyers can ask questions using the chat function while watching the pre-recorded materials that the listing agent shares.
If using pre-recorded videos or virtual tours, the real estate agent can share their screen so that the buyers can all join the listing agent in touring the home, room-by-room. Pre-recorded materials also allow the agent to practice beforehand and not feel the same pressure of a live video feed.
Here is an example of pre-recorded material from Emily Kirshaw for Realty Exchange:
- The listing agent can control exactly what the audience sees
- The listing agent can make mistakes and re-record until they are satisfied with the tour
- Pre-recorded materials can be used over and over again
- The agent cannot zoom in on areas buyers ask about in real time
- Sometimes there can be a bit of lag/delay when screen sharing
- Potential buyers may have already taken the virtual tour
Tips for Using Pre-Recorded Materials:
- If you are using a virtual tour that has already been available for listing, think about ways you can bring fresh insight
- Make sure to practice using the screen sharing function of your streaming platform beforehand
- Make sure you have a strong internet connection before the virtual open house
- If using a pre-recorded video, consider pausing after touring each room to offer insights and answer questions.
The other option is going to the listing and broadcasting live. There is a level of excitement generated by this type of online event that pre-recorded materials can’t match. But, It does take more coordination with the seller and planning.
The May Team records live using all of their team members.
- The level of excitement of a live broadcast
- The ability to focus on features as buyers ask about them
- Buyers who have already seen a virtual tour/listing video can get a new perspective
- Coordinating with the seller
- The agent may feel overwhelmed (not knowing what to do/say)
- The potential for bad wifi coverage
Tips for Live Tours:
- Arrive early to set up
- Be sure to test out how the lighting in each room looks on camera
- Make sure the internet connection is strong
- Practice a few times
- Always turn your camera horizontally
When Should I Host my Virtual Open House?
While most open houses are held on the weekend, live streaming is different.
Research shows that the best times to share online are between Tuesday and Thursday. People are more likely to log off of social media during the weekend.
How Should I Promote My Virtual Open House?
It’s best to start promoting 1-1.5 weeks before you go live. If you choose Facebook as your platform, Facebook will automatically alert all of your page followers when you go live. But, this alone will not get a high level engagement.
You should also:
- Contact buyer agents.
- Set up a Facebook Event page and invite all your contacts. This will send them reminders automatically about the event.
- Use listing websites like Single Property Sites, that come with integrated virtual open house marketing.
- Send calendar invites/reminders with your real estate CRM. Or use an extension like Boomerang for Gmail.
- Use your social media accounts to promote your event.
- If possible, send SMS text message invites to your contacts.
How Do I Capture Leads During My Virtual Open House?
The good thing is that live streaming platforms automatically create a record of who attended. You will be able to see leads’ names or profiles. Any time someone likes or comments, you will also have a record.
To really capture motivated leads, you must be prepared to offer something of value at the end of your live stream. Before moving to the Q&A portion, ask leads to message you their email address. Email leads more detailed information about the property and follow up aftward.
It is also a good idea to include a phone number and email address for buyers to set up a showing. These details should be displayed in the description section of the live stream.
How Should I Follow Up After My Virtual Open House?
Remember to send ‘thank you’ messages immediately afterwards. You can use private messaging or email. Be sure to include clear information about how to schedule a showing and always import new leads into your real estate CRM.
Unlocking the Power of Virtual Open Houses
This season has caused listing agents to discover new, interactive ways to market their properties. Virtual open houses are a free and highly engaging way to attract buyers, right from the comfort of their own homes. And, trying this new way to market homes is a lot easier than might seem.
Read the full article, here.