Julia Falcon

April 20, 2020

During a time when we are told to stay home for our own good, there are still home shoppers out there. But how are they shopping?

According to a survey from Realtor.com, about 25% of shoppers say they would buy a home without even stepping foot in it.

As more people are remaining socially distant, technology is taking center stage. In MarchRedfin saw a 94-fold increase in video chat tour requests, while Zillow had a 191% increase in the creation of 3D home tours.

Uncertainty around COVID-19 and limitations around social interactions and group gatherings like open houses have made buying and selling homes more difficult than ever,” said Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer of Realtor.com. “As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy and sell homes moving forward.”

Despite social distancing guidelines, 47% said they still would prefer to see a home in person with a buyer’s agent; 23% would prefer to go alone; 13% prefer an online video tour and 6% of shoppers preferred their agent going to the home and showing it via video chat.

When asked which technology features were most helpful when deciding on a new home, 61% said they preferred a virtual tour of the home; 58% said they prefer accurate and detailed listing information; 53% preferred accurate and detailed neighborhood information; 51% preferred high-quality listing photos and 39% preferred the ability for the agent or landlord to walk them through the property via video chat.

But does this mean home sellers are comfortable with others touring their homes?

When asked by Realtor.com about selling within the next six months, 56% of sellers said they were comfortable with letting their agent in their home to take photos. Over half of the respondants would allow their agent in the home to give a virtual tour; 47% would let an agent walk a buyer through the home in person; 44% would let the agent walk a buyer through the home via video chat and a whopping 53% would actually hold an open house.

Looking toward some stability in the housing market, 68% said their plans to move or not to move haven’t changed in response to the pandemic. But, of those whose plans have changed, 9% said they weren’t planning to move, but need to now; 14% canceled their plans to move altogether; 9% said they would rent rather than buy and 7% said they would rather buy than rent.

Thanks to virtual advances, 24% of people said they would be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person and 30% said they would be willing to rent one.

While 83% of respondents said their living situation has not changed because of COVID-19, 8% said they moved in with immediate family; 6% moved in with a partner; 2% moved in with extended family and 2% moved in with a new roommate.

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