Locked but not down

With the entire world now going through a very difficult period due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, demand for remote working, meeting and collaboration tools is higher than ever. Many companies have furloughed employees, and various degrees of lockdown have left workers deprived of their familiar office settings.

All this has changed how people work and engage with one another, making it one of the most fundamental social disruptions in over 80 years.

More than a billion people are quarantined or are working from home. Thankfully, the revolution towards digitization has helped companies to adapt to remote working, video conferencing and virtual events.

But there’s no substitute for making real person-to-person connections. This is especially apparent when it comes to making big life decisions. And buying your very first house ranks up there.

Buying and selling items of relatively low prices and small quantities is part of our daily online routines. After all, lots of people rely on Amazon and other e-commerce sites for their daily purchases. But when it comes to large-ticket items like a house or a car, it’s no surprise that people still want to see and get a better feel first before making a decision.

We’re not quite at the stage where buying a home can be done entirely online. Yet viewing homes virtually has already become a must-do. According to Redfin , one-third of home-tour requests are now virtual.

It goes without say that estate agents need to adapt to this new era of distant property sales. In-person visits are unlikely to be replaced by virtual tours anytime soon, but the advantages of virtual tours are clear. They’re not just an effective outreach tool for agents but also save tremendous time for buyers.

Instead of visiting 2–3 houses and wasting the better part of your day, taking virtual tours of 5–10 houses within 2–3 hours is a breeze. “Couch surfing” properties from the comfort of your home with beer at hand (crisps anyone?) is…well, standard operating procedure. Not to mention the benefits of staying at home and escaping the traffic and, most importantly in these times, the threat of the virus.

Zoom in, zoom out. Snap

When it comes virtual tours, the most common question that pops to mind is: “How in the world do I create one?” And that’s when most estate agents give up even before taking the first step.

The barriers to entry can seem daunting. Usually, a virtual tour camera is a costly investment and you’re stuck with it. Legit picture quality, yes, but it comes at a hefty $300 at least for an entry-level model. During these times of economic uncertainty, $300 doesn’t sound very appealing.

What if you could capture virtual reality images for less than $50…using just your smartphone?

That’s exactly what’s possible with iStaging’s solutions. With the VR Maker app and a fisheye lens clipped on, estate agents — anyone really — can start capturing panoramic virtual tours with ease at a much lower price.

Edit with ease

Once captured, many users simply edit the image in the app. There’s no need to go back to a computer for additional work. This on-the-go/couch(!) editing tool and time-saver is designed to allow agents to do what they do best — closing deals — and not be fussed by technical stuff.

Creating content is just the first step. There’s a lot more you can, and will, want to do.

With iStaging’s VR Editor, you can add more details on to a virtual tour. Add different tags to highlight certain features in a property. What about a short audio intro? Done. What’s more, iStaging also offers 3D mock-ups of a property to estate agents.

These can quickly and clearly show how different rooms are connected. iStaging can also provide a 3D floor plan with room features and allow estate agents to easily link panoramas to a 2D floor plan, thereby showcasing the contents more realistically.

Walk this way

Once potential buyers get an immersive view of the property, it’s likely they’ll want to ask questions. Enter TourRing. Designed to fulfill a call to action, it works like this: Potential buyers can simply click a button to send an inquiry to the agent within the tour. The agent can then pick up the call and synchronize screens with the buyer!

That’s not all. There’s also a ‘pointer’ tool, so the agent can highlight certain features during the call, making it feel like both parties are in the same place. (Actually, they ARE, just virtually.) The agent can also switch modes and allow the buyer to take the lead in the walk-through, standing ready to answer any questions that might come up. Pretty much just like a real on-site, in-person visit.

Stay home. Go far

With the on-going pandemic out there, iStaging is doing its part to help get things done from indoors. Improving the efficiency of business communications helps, not only for the real estate industry, but also for retailers, automobile sellers, and tourism.

With 5G technology around the corner, a significant shift in how people work and communicate is on the way. Capturing virtual tours, adding rich features to them, and allowing for a walk-through like no other takes customer engagement to the next level.

Contact us to learn more about how our customers can do so much more with iStaging.

Author: Benjamin Tsai, Product Director at iStaging Corp