Virtual home tours spike

Zillow saw a 190 percent increase in online 3D home tours. CNBC’s Diana Olick reports how some companies are helping home buyers attend open houses while social distancing. While homebuyer demand has plummeted, there are still some out there who may need to move, and either purchase or rent a home. So, much like all interaction in the age of COVID-19, home touring is moving online, using robots and going solo. Zillow, a home listing site, said it saw a 191% increase in the creation of 3D home tours in the first weeks of March compared with the average number created in February. Even before the coronavirus, listings including a 3D Home tour were saved by users 50% more, and those homes sold on average 10% faster. Redfin, a real estate brokerage, saw a 494% increase in requests for agent-led video home tours two weeks ago and at the beginning of last week 18.9% of tour requests from were video-chat tours, up from 0.2% at the beginning of March, a 94-fold increase. At Rently, a software company that makes digital lockboxes that allow individuals to tour empty homes all on their own, demand is soaring. A renter or buyer can register with their information and credit card online, then go up to the front door with their smartphone and valid ID, and get a one-time access code to the home. Self-touring data shows that for the month of March 2020, the company is expected to facilitate 197,964 self-tours, a 30% increase annually. “That’s really helping now with the COVID-19 because property managers and those that are selling properties can still place people in homes even when an agent can’t meet them at the property,” said Merrick Lackner, CEO of Rently. “We don’t know how long this social distancing will stay in place, but with rates coming down the way they have, we’re probably going to see another homebuying surge, and if agents can’t meet to show those properties for sale, they can still be purchased with potential buyers seeing them on their own.” Rently has also seen a surge in demand for its devices, which nearly tripled in the second week of March with more than 1,500 devices sent to real estate operators. The company works with large landlords like Brookfield, American Homes 4 Rent, Roofstock and Pegasus Residential. “Our shipping center, as an essential service, has stayed open, and we have added more shipping and receiving hires to facilitate the outbound shipments,” added Lackner. Another real estate start-up, Zenplace, provides both virtual tours and tours with robots. The robots have a screen, where the real estate agent can speak to the customer in a video chat and lead them around the house. “We are seeing unprecedented demand for our platform across 35+ states, across both large urban areas that have been most affected, to smaller cities where people are increasingly practicing increased social distancing,” said Jason Green, a spokesman for Zenplace. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO:… » Subscribe to CNBC TV: » Subscribe to CNBC: » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: Follow CNBC News on Facebook: Follow CNBC News on Twitter: Follow CNBC News on Instagram: #CNBC #CNBC TV
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