Being able to search and preview homes online has revolutionized the real estate industry.
According to a recently released joint study from the National Association of Realtors and Google, “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate,” real estate-related searches on Google have grown 253 percent over the past four years.
“Increasingly, online technologies are driving offline behaviors, and home buying is no exception,” said Google’s head of real estate, Patrick Grandinetti, in a press release. “With 90 percent of homebuyers searching online during their home-buying process, the real estate industry is smart to target these people where they look for and consume information — for example through paid search, relevant websites, video environments and mobile applications,” he said.
Prospective buyers search for loan information, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, garages, heating and directions to a home, the study data revealed. They also use photos and videos of homes to help narrow down their search — this is where the virtual tour or video becomes a sought-after feature in the early stages of a home search.
The virtual tour essentially allows you to walk through a property online and decide if you would like to visit the home in person.
Roberta Lorio, licensed associate real estate broker at Houlihan Lawrence in East Fishkill, said she started using virtual tours 10 years ago when she and her husband, Vincent, began their second career as real estate agents. “We can’t live without them,” she said.
Curt Darragh of the Mid-Hudson Valley Real Estate Investors Association said: “Virtual tours started becoming common practice around 2004 when the market began to heat up. Most of them were photos linked together and put to music or narration. Next came the 360-degree virtual tour that showed an entire room — then, with the explosion of smartphones and tablets, came full video tours.”
Since their inception, the virtual tour has only gotten better and easier for agents to use, Lorio said.