“Virtual” has been our reality in 2020. A nationwide shutdown of businesses and travel bans forced us to conduct our work online with a never-ending whirlwind of zoom meetings. Eight months have passed and there has been amazing progress toward technology adoption in builder and multifamily industries especially in the use of virtual tools to help visualize, market and sell homes and home technology.
Home and Rental Property Virtual Opportunities:
Virtual touring proved to be one of the most important tools for builders and property owners this year. With model home visits having several visitor limitations or closed altogether, adding virtual tours for houses or units was imperative sales and marketing tool. This will not change moving forward as people are getting more comfortable with shopping for homes online and over a third preferring it according to a recent Zillow survey. “For homebuilders, having a virtual tour model is an absolute must”, says New Construction Marketing Podcast host, Anya Chrisanthon. “Most people will not bother to drive to your physical model home unless they first have the option to preview it online.”
This presents a perfect opportunity for builders to utilize virtualization tools to present what their physical model homes cannot. One of the main advantages of virtual models is the ability for clients to see their choices in real-time giving a greater sense of what can be built. Whether it be a room, a shower upgrade, or a bedroom loft, your client can actually see how those options are going to look–leading to a deeper sense of connection to the process and high buyer satisfaction.
With multifamily rentals, virtual touring has been growing, not only because of the limitations imposed by covid-19, but digital natives such as Millennials and especially Gen Z overwhelmingly prefer to interact digitally before booking an in-person tour. Research shows that apartment listings that include virtual tours get 87% more views than those without. For property managers, this is good news as it will filter out less interested parties allowing more time to devote to serious leads.
High-Value Potential in Home Technology Sales:
Taken a step further, virtual tours can expand to more robust experiences when it comes to adding integrated technology. Gordon Van Zuiden of CyberManor recently created an iPad app smart home tour of their experience center in Los Gatos California. The Matterport rendered tour of their beautifully restored and tech loaded 1926 schoolhouse, highlights the many possibilities that smart technology can offer. “We know going forward the business will have two branches,” says Van Zuiden. “Of course, the physical presence and events but increasingly the virtual world is going to be important and this gives us a new way to tell our story.” See our interview with Gorden Van Zuiden.
When Savant remodeled their 8000 sq ft experience center this past summer, they wanted to create a virtual experience that would help homebuilders, the specification community and integrators who couldn’t open their own model homes or show rooms. “The way that we are all trying to sell and educate homeowners is changing and it’s changing every day,” says Angie Larson, Senior VP of Customer Operations at Savant. Her team strove to help customers continue to carry on an immersive smart living tour in an innovative way. Using a combination of Matterport renderings, educational videos, and live cameras, you can tour and interact with the many rooms in the NYC Experience Center. For example, you can explore the Savant and GE lighting energy lab to “nerd out” on their energy and lighting control platform or visit the residential lux loft that lets you see what it’s like to live in a fully-loaded smart home. Watch our sneak peek of Savant’s Experience Center
The acceleration of virtual tools came out of necessity but has proven real value to the home and home tech industry. With the next generation of home buyer and renter preference for shopping and interacting online, it’s no surprise that these innovative shifts in marketing and selling homes and home technology is taking off in the industry. Virtual offerings will become the expectation for homebuyers and an important part of the marketing mix for builder and multifamily industries.
by Erin Chartier