More and more home search sites and brokerages have been adding new digital offerings to their respective websites to fuel the demand for home-buying despite the current pandemic, including home search portal Homesnap, which added live open houses to its website last week.
Because COVID-19 led to open houses being paused across the country, Homesnap Chief Product Officer Lou Mintzer told HousingWire that the company had to spring into action to make seeing a home still possible.
“We have devised our entire business and product to work in such a way that if agents are successful, we are successful,” Mintzer said “At this time, not being able to meet people and go tour houses, coming up with a solution like this is critical. So this is actually like a business and success enablement feature by necessity right now, a super-important part of our business and the way that agents conduct business during the pandemic.”
Through the Homesnap platform, agents and home shoppers can search for homes and take open house tours virtually.
Homesnap Stories is a free tool available within the Homesnap platform, and operates similarly to Facebook and Instagram stories, the company said. This product was launched a year ago.
Through this platform, agents can create video tours themselves and make those accessible to home shoppers until the property is off the market.
On the map view of a home, there is an icon that indicates if a live open house is scheduled for that listing. If the open house is live at that moment, the icon will “pulse,” the company said. Like regular open houses, the listing’s Open House Property Card Banner will feature the date, time and icon to indicate that the open house will be a virtual experience.
Meanwhile, Homesnap says it has seen a 143.7% increase in the creation of Homesnap Stories since the COVID-19 pandemic started, from January 2020 through March 2020. Homesnap also said there has been a 92% increase in the creation of Homesnap Stories compared to this time last year.
“This is a big movement within the industry specifically pushed by MLS’ that we’re really endeavoring to support,” Mitzner said. “I think what it really kind of highlights, is that in a world of being completely remote, all the time, video is king.”