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Selling a Home: Does an Open House or a Virtual Tour Work Better?

Selling a Home: Does an Open House or a Virtual Tour Work Better?
4 min. read

Image: Artazum / Shutterstock.com

As the second decade of the new millennium draws to a close, technology is advancing faster than ever. Even the world of real estate—a bricks-and-mortar industry—is seeing powerful new tools enter the market, helping sellers and buyers alike. One of the most groundbreaking innovations in real estate is the virtual tour. 

Great for sellers who want to make their listing stand out, and invaluable for buyers looking to narrow down their options, virtual tours are becoming increasingly popular. But will they ever replace the good old-fashioned open house?

Open House

Opening your home to potential buyers is a tried and tested method of selling it. After all, very few of us are willing to make the largest transaction of our lives without seeing the goods first, especially at a time when home prices are increasing fast and mortgage affordability is eroding in many in-demand urban centres across the country. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine the use of an open house being neglected altogether, but times do change.

Consider the way younger generations shop, socialize and relax—almost everything is done online. It’s only natural to use the Internet and technological advances to improve user experience and make processes more efficient.

Does this mean the end of open houses? Probably not. There are still huge advantages to sellers who agree to stage their home and open their doors to potential buyers.

The Advantages of an Open House

  • Potential buyers can not only see but touch, feel and smell the home when they visit in person. They can more readily detect defects and any potential problems, such as noisy neighbours, damp patches or poor wiring.
  • Buyers are able to ask questions and get a better understanding of what it’s like to live in a home that they visit. The more information they can collect, the better equipped they are to make an offer.
  • On a virtual tour, a home will be shown at its best. When buyers visit in person, they can see it in other conditions and climates. Rainy days may expose a leaky roof, while icicles can indicate poor insulation.
  • Buyers will also get to see and experience the surrounding area and neighbourhood, rather than just the house and possibly the yard.

The Disadvantages of an Open House

For the seller of a home, an open house can present a number of disadvantages. However, most of these are only short term, and the long term benefits may outweigh the short term disadvantages.

  • It can be stressful to vacate your home in case a buyer decides to visit at the last minute, especially if you have kids or pets.
  • You have to work extra hard to ensure your home is presentable and clutter-free, all the time.
  • You may end up showing your home to a lot of time-wasters who aren’t particularly interested in it.

Virtual Tour

A virtual tour can offer many benefits to both the seller and the buyer, but there are also some downsides to using this method. Bear in mind that there are now several options open to you as to what type of virtual tour you use. From fully interactive walkthroughs, featuring floor plans and 3D remodels, to simple, 180-degree click-and-drag photo tours, it’s worth considering which is the best option for you.

The Advantages of a Virtual Tour

  • You can reach and engage a wide range of potential buyers.
  • Buyers can view your home at any time, saving you the stress of vacating it for a certain period.
  • It’s ideal for properties looking to attract buyers from further afield, such as vacation homes, as house-hunters don’t need to make the journey.
  • You can show your home at its best each and every time.
  • It’s useful for filtering out time-wasters, ensuring only serious buyers approach you for more information.

The Disadvantages of a Virtual Tour

  • It costs extra to create a virtual tour and can take a little more time. However, new systems allow simpler tours to be created from a smartphone.
  • Low-quality virtual tours can put buyers off and are worse than not doing one at all.

Which is the Best for You?

When selling your home, the best practice is to use both an open house and a virtual tour. This combines the advantages of the two options, allowing both buyer and seller to enjoy the many benefits.

Unless you’re selling a luxury property, there’s no need to go overboard with your virtual tour. Most potential buyers simply want to see inside the home, rather than being wowed by state of the art video technology. It is, however, essential that you ensure the photo quality is high, otherwise you may put buyers off.

Adding a virtual tour to your listing will also help filter out time-wasters, ensuring that only the most serious buyers will go on to actually visit in person. This saves you time and allows you to target the buyers who are most likely to put in an offer.

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