With the COVID-19 pandemic looking like it will be with us for some time, it’s important all agents know the latest tools to market a home to buyers who may never set foot inside before closing the sale.

Buyers these days go online to discover whats available. And with the pandemic still very much a concern, they tend to visit the houses they find appealing by taking a virtual tour rather than an in-person look-see. 

Thats because many sellers still arent comfortable with strangers coming into their homes, masks or not. But a surprising number of agents  about 27 percent, according to a recent National Association of Realtors survey  arent making use of virtual tours at all. Worse, a poll of professionals at a recent town hall sponsored by Inman found that 74 percent had never made a listing video. 

Undoubtedly, many of these non-users are part-time agents, or those who only cobble together a few sales a year. But experts say it isnt all that difficult.  

Video programs range from the simple to the complex. You can use Facetime, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Zoom, YouTube, Instagram or any of a host of other apps.  

A smartphone is the only tool youll need, said Patty McNease of listing website Homes.com. If you want to produce something more memorable, you also might want to get your hands on a tripod, microphone and light panel. 

Otherwise, make sure to turn all the lights on and open all window coverings to allow as much natural light inside as possible. You might even consider replacing all your light bulbs with high-wattage ones. 

)Where to Begin 

All in-person tours start at the curb, so start your video there, too. The folks at Home Matters, a real estate e-newsletter, suggest picking an eye-catching location to start – say, a corner of your lot that shows your propertys expanse. Of course, make sure the yard and front door are spruced up; a dull door and shabby shrubs will defeat your purpose. 

As you move along to the front door, begin a narration to tell viewers about what they are seeing. But be careful not to divulge negative information. Saying the lot is a half-acre, the largest in the neighborhood, is good. But the fact that the owner pays someone $100 every other week to mow the lawn is not something a potential buyer needs to know. 

Once inside, point out the highlights of each room, both visually and verbally. Its better to stay focused on an attribute or two for too long than to move through too quickly. And camera angles are important, said Allen Alishahi of ShelterZoom. If you are looking to showcase the stone countertops, prop your camera on one side of the kitchen to show them on the other side of the room. 

While youre discussing certain items, try to build an emotional connection to them, said McNease. For example, at the fireplace, you might mention the many nights the seller enjoyed reading to their kids or grandkids in front of a roaring fire. Or at the rear deck, casually note how the family enjoyed picnicking outside when the weather was nice. 

Some desirable items to highlight: The size of rooms, as in 20-by-20 or 400 square feet; ceiling heights; trims and moldings; walk-in closets; dual sinks; expansive windows; hardwood flooring; custom tile work or anything else that might set a buyers heart fluttering. 

If you have vaulted ceilings in this listing, show them, too. But dont mention what it costs to heat and cool your house until you are asked. And if the seller redid the kitchen, say, or put on a new roof, then mention that. Tell folks when the job was done, and that they secured a permit from the local authorities. 

Virtual Staging 

If the buyer has already moved out of the house, consider virtual staging: a process of virtually adding key pieces of furniture to your video. Chicago agent Margaret Goss found several companies online that offer this service. This step can be helpful, since many people have trouble visualizing empty houses, especially remotely.  

Lew Sichelman

Its hard to say how long your video should run. Some buyers will want to see and hear as much as possible, but others will lose interest quickly. Jameson Doris of RISMedia suggests keeping it short  a couple of minutes at most  unless you are using Facebook Live. Then, its the longer, the better. 

If your photos and video are good enough, they might be sufficient to nail a sale  some people these days are buying houses without ever stepping inside them  or at least to whet someones interest enough to see your place in person. 

Above all, dont be overly critical of the quality of your work. You might have to take a couple stabs at it before you get it right. Said David Gumpper of the WAV Group consulting firm: This approach is new and will only get better over time. 

Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 50 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at lsichelman@aol.com. 

How to Create a Video Tour

by Lew Sichelman time to read: 3 min