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Social distancing brings rise in 3D virtual home tours

Real estate agents and homeowners can't give tours or hold open houses and now some are using a more creative approach.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The coronavirus is impacting every facet of our economy, and the housing market is no different.

Social distancing measures are preventing real estate agents and homeowners from giving home tours or open houses, so those trying to sell are using a more creative approach to show off their homes in Zillow’s 3D virtual home tour.

“A lot of people were planning to sell their homes, set everything up with no expectation that in March now we’d be dealing with a global pandemic,” said Jeff Tucker, an economist at Zillow. 

He said that’s where the Zillow app’s 3D virtual tours are increasingly starting to come in. “We’ve seen the creation of those essentially triple over the last week compared to the normal pace at which they’re created,” Tucker said. 

Tucker said the 3D tour allows you to walk your way through a
home with your fingertips. ‘You’ve got a panorama of the whole room from the center of the room,” Tucker said, “you swipe around on the app to look in every direction of the room.” 

Real estate agents usually make these, but any homeowner with a listing on Zillow could do it too. “Literally just use an app on your phone and you walk through and take panoramas of the house and then our AI stitches it together,” Tucker said. 

Nelly Rush, a real estate agent in Charlotte, says it can help fill in the blanks while buyers aren’t allowed in homes. “A big concern that a lot of these potential homebuyers are having is, well I can’t just look at photos, photos can sometimes make a room look bigger,” Rush said.

Still, the 3D tours can’t replace physically seeing a home. “The way the light looks in the house, if there’s an airport with planes flying overhead if the house has a smell, you want to know,” Tucker said. He says it can help narrow down the home search until social distancing restrictions are lifted, though. “If every potential buyer continued to do business the way we used to do, bouncing from open house to open house, not a great idea from a public health perspective right now,” Tucker said.


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