In order to comply with COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders and to minimize contact, many real estate agents and homeowners are finding themselves hosting virtual tours. Whether it’s a home tour recorded for a website, a Facebook Live virtual open house, or a FaceTime video stream, virtual tours provide the opportunity to share your home with potential buyers and buyer agents throughout your market.
How can you make your home look its best for a virtual tour? As it turns out, many of the same things that you’ve probably already been doing still apply. However, there are a few things to keep in mind and to discuss with your real estate agent before filming begins. These tips will help you ensure that your home shows its best and that buyers get everything they’re looking for from your tour.
Start at the front door.
The best virtual tour should feel like an in-person tour, beginning at the entrance to your home. If, like many homeowners, you commonly enter through a side or garage entrance, take a moment to walk through the front door. This is your chance to make sure that the first impression is a great one.
Dust off your front door, clean the light fixtures, and make sure everything looks its best. If you’ve been doing some quarantine gardening, consider putting a pretty plant or pot of flowers at the entrance, as well.
Take decluttering seriously.
Your listing agent may have already talked to you about decluttering your home, but this becomes even more important when it’s time to get your space camera-ready. Viewed through a live stream or video, everything tends to look a bit more jumbled and a little less thoughtful.
The more you can reduce clutter and emphasize clean lines and orderly spaces, the better your home will show. This is especially important in the kitchen and bathrooms, where countertops should be left as clear as possible. Use this opportunity to pack away books and knickknacks throughout the house for a more minimalist, streamlined look on screen.
Show hidden spaces.
You may not like thinking about the places that people look when they’re on a home tour, but when they’re buying a home they want to see it all. Inside closets, inside cabinets, even inside the refrigerator — it’s all fair game. In order to help people make a fair determination about your home, you’ll have to allow them the opportunity to peek into those spaces, as well.
Dust the cobwebs out of your crawl space and clean out the medicine cabinet so that your virtual visitors can see inside. Neatly arrange your kitchen and bathroom cabinets for inspection so that buyers can see how much room they have to work with.
Don’t forget the view.
On a home tour, people like to see the view from the kitchen window or the owner’s suite. Give them the same opportunity on a virtual tour. Be sure to clean your window coverings so that there’s not a cloud of dust when they are moved. Alternatively, consider opening them wide so that your agent can get a great shot. Clean the windows and the window frames as well so that the view is picture-perfect.
Highlight outdoor spaces.
Wherever you live, outdoor spaces are a major selling point. Whether you have a fenced backyard that’s perfect for kids and pets or an elegant outdoor dining room and summer kitchen, you’ll want to make your outdoor spaces look their best.
Clear away debris, clean off furniture, and get your outdoor space looking shipshape before your virtual tour. Consider asking your agent to film during a time of day when the light is particularly flattering from your deck or terrace or to show off your beautiful sunset view.
Emphasize your home’s best features.
What made you fall in love with your home? A sweeping staircase? A fabulous gourmet kitchen? A charming sunroom? What space or feature do your visitors often complement? What does your listing agent say is particularly in-demand this year? Determine your home’s best feature, and then be sure to highlight it in the tour.
This is a great opportunity to show your home at its most beautiful and spend more time on the elements that sell. Don’t forget to turn on all of the overhead lights and lamps, even in the middle of the day. That way, viewers will be able to really see the space without shadows or shading.
Keep security in mind.
While you definitely want to share your space with buyers, be mindful of your personal property and safety. If you have a safe in your closet, cover it before filming the closet space. Don’t leave an elaborate jewelry box out on the dresser or leave jewelry out on a bedside table. Avoid showing expensive computer equipment, gun safes, or other items that might be tempting. This is especially important if your virtual home tour will be housed online for everyone to see.
Home security is particularly important for the popular 360° virtual tours that often accompany listings. Because the 3D cameras capture everything, they can inadvertently advertise your security system setup, entrances and exits, and expensive personal property to prying eyes.
Virtual tours are an invaluable way to keep you and your home safe during the COVID-19 shutdown. They allow you to reach out and nurture the interest of the most enthusiastic buyers in your market. By taking some time to give your home a little extra TLC before your virtual tour or open house, you give it a leg up on the local competition and get closer to sold.