Realtor.com released a new feature on its website Friday morning, allowing homebuyers to attend an open house without leaving their couches.
The company said as COVID-19 continues to spread, it is working closely with MLSs to enable listing agents to show homes safely while practicing social distancing.
“Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen a bit of a slowdown in home buying and selling activity as consumers and agents adjust to this new normal,” realtor.com Chief Marketing Officer Nate Johnson said. “However, we know that many people still need to buy and sell homes, and realtor.com is dedicated to helping ease real estate transactions as much as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re working hard to roll out technology solutions like Livestream Open Houses and we’ve set up microsites dedicated to providing information and resources to help both agents and consumers move forward with searching for, buying and selling homes during times of social distancing.”
Much like a traditional open house, Livestream Open Houses will allow agents to show homebuyers the property in real time.
Homebuyers are able to join the open house at any time during open house hours. But unlike virtual tours, these are scheduled in advance and broadcasted live, allowing agents to interact with the homebuyers.
“While virtual tours are a great resource for consumers, most home shoppers still want the opportunity to walk through a home with an agent and ask questions in real time,” said Ryan Green, vice president, product management at realtor.com. “Especially during this time of social distancing, realtor.com’s Livestream Open Houses will give agents the opportunity to showcase their properties, and will allow consumers the ability to still explore a home through a live online experience from the safety of their own homes.”
According to a survey from realtor.com and Toluna Insights, 24% of people would be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person, while 21% of people said that COVID-19 has made them more than likely to move into a home without stepping foot in it first.
The Livestream Open Houses, available now, can be performed via Google Hangouts, Zoom, join.met and Zoho, with more being added over time.
More recently, realtor.com rolled out its own home value estimate tool, which will appear on for-sale and off-market listings on the site.
The company previously displayed an estimated home value on off-market listings, but for the first time, realtor.com is now displaying an estimated home value on for-sale listings as well.
The website also introduced a noise indicator feature, providing home shoppers with data at the property level, where others can only do so at a neighborhood level.
According to the company, new listings typically make up around 9% of active for-sale listings this time of year, and in the last three weeks, they’ve averaged to just 7%, a share of the market more typically seen in the fall.
Pre-COVID-19, new listings were increasing 5% year-over-year on average, realtor.com said. Now, in the week ending April 11, new home listings have decreased by a whopping 47%.