I’ve seen firsthand how the virtual renaissance has helped businesses connect with customers — in fact, my business is built around it. But across all the industries I’ve dabbled in, few have seen the profound enhancements from technology that real estate has. It’s largely a matter of necessity; the coronavirus pandemic made in-person showings impossible, and realtors took to tech to help bridge the gap. Clients visited virtual renditions in the meantime, either online or guided by AR on-location.

In-person showings have resumed, but virtual tours haven’t vanished. To see if that was a fluke or the future, my company, Resonai, surveyed 300 real estate professionals for their thoughts on virtual tours. What we’ve discovered is that virtual tours aren’t a fad, but are now a staple feature of an industry that’s ready to expand.

Touring Augmented Abodes

“Virtual tour” is a bit of a loaded term. Your mind might jump to a 3D model that you can click through via an internet browser, but technology has moved beyond that. Virtual reality headsets are found in more households every day, and almost everyone has an AR-capable smartphone in their pocket. Expand your view of virtual tours to include immersive digital layers that enhance the tour experience, and you’ll have a better understanding of the current reality.

Virtual Tour Adoption

If you pop onto your local real estate agent’s website right now, there’s a good chance you’ll see virtual tours on offer. Our findings show that 75% of realty companies have adopted virtual tours to improve their marketing and prospect viewing experiences. These companies aren’t just trend chasing. The overwhelming majority of adopters are seeing tangible benefits from using virtual tours. In fact, 90% of adopters have seen boosted revenue from virtual tours.

With the majority of realty pros offering virtual tours and reaping benefits, non-adopters need to evaluate whether or not they can afford to leave virtual tours out of their services. Universal adoption of technology in an industry doesn’t make it an amenity, it makes it an expectation. Just as consumers expect 2-day shipping at major retailers, they’ll soon expect virtual tours at major realtors. Neglecting virtual tours is risking customers taking their business elsewhere.

Fake World, Real Benefits

I’m a proponent of AR and VR because they can show the potential of what something could be, not just what it is. Realtors, understandably, get it — highlighting possibilities is the name of the game, after all. When technology and realtors meet, it’s natural that they form a symbiotic relationship, thanks to their shared nature. If you haven’t made the switch, consider all the benefits you’re missing out on. Luckily, they’re easy to quantify.

Please indulge me as I throw more numbers at you:

  • 95% of adopters report enhanced brand perception
  • 92% report improved prospect viewing experiences
  • 85% report better prospect qualification
  • 82% report employee training benefits
  • 92% report higher qualified prospect volume
  • 90% report increased revenue generation.

Put simply, nearly every customer-facing aspect of the real estate industry is being enhanced thanks to the addition of virtual tours. When you walk away from virtual tours, you’re walking away from a shot in your business’ arm.

The Barriers to Adoption

All of the benefits beg the question of why there are still analog tour holdouts. As it turns out, the most common barrier to adopting virtual tours is the simplest: They just never thought of doing it in the first place. That excuse will only stand for so long, however. Virtual tours are clearly no longer a stopgap meant to tide the industry over through the pandemic; they’re a crucial tool for attracting and relating to potential buyers. Anyone not thinking about implementing them may soon find their business looking outdated and old-fashioned by comparison.

Another barrier to adoption is, of course, expense, and make no mistake: Virtual tours are an investment, but businesses are meant to be invested in. Even organizations that currently lack the resources for virtual tours will want to reconsider their priorities, and how virtual tours could positively impact their operations. It’s not difficult to imagine how that might play out — just scroll back to that bullet list a little further up. More prospects, better prospects, increased revenue, take your pick of positives.

The business implications of neglecting a staple convenience feature are, to put it gently, less than ideal.

Looking Forward

Technology pushes us forward in ways we can’t account for. The internet changed real estate forever, and virtual tours are the logical next step in the industry’s evolution. It’s rare for anything to be universally embraced, but the benefits of virtual tours in the realty industry are clear.

Emil Alon is CEO of Resonai.

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