Video home tours never seemed necessary to one veteran agent, until the day they became indispensable.
illustration woman on live video

© Steve Musgrave

I started selling real estate well before the internet arrived, and I’m pretty sure the lines on my forehead could navigate any buyer through the streets of my community—without GPS. Sure, I’ve become comfortable with email, electronic signatures, and apps that make our business easier. But ordinarily, I’m slow to change. I like meeting clients face-to-face, holding their hand through the sales process.

Everything changed in March with California’s stay-at-home rules in full swing and no hand-holding—or handshakes—allowed. No open houses, broker tours, or in-person showings. Good client service could no longer be a tug-of-war between high-touch and high-tech; instead, high-tech is the new high-touch. I found myself scrambling to embrace all things virtual. In April and May, I attended more webinars and Zoom trainings than I ever thought possible. I have a twitch in my left eye to prove it. But I became reenergized about my work in this new era.

3D Matterport tours, 360-degree virtual walkthroughs, drone photography—I embraced them all after the outbreak. But one adaptation had me in hives: conducting a virtual open house on Facebook Live. I briefly considered ending the career I’d enjoyed my entire adult life rather than do a live, on-camera tour. But when Open House Saturday arrived, I pushed ahead.

Because of the event’s precise start time, I emailed and text--ed the sellers a week ahead to remind them of the drill: Be sure the house is pristine and vacate at least 30 minutes beforehand. I thought all was on track when I arrived garbed in mask, gloves, and booties. What I found was clothes on the floor, an unmade bed, and the seller still in the shower. I got her to leave in a hurry.

When I launched the tour, I started describing the town, the weather, and the recreation paths as if I had done this before. When I turned the camera away from me to show the yard, texts started pouring in, which I ignored because, hey, this was a live open house and I couldn’t stop to read texts. I went inside and saw more texts—now with exclamation points!

Begrudgingly, I took a glance, and then died a little inside as I continued: “I’ve just received some helpful texts telling me to rotate my camera,” I calmly announced. “Apparently this video is playing sideways.” This was about six minutes in. I turned the camera vertically so the video would right itself. I didn’t lose it or apologize. I kept going. Just like I did when I heard the belongings tumble out of the linen closet and onto the wood floor behind me as I walked down the stairs. A moment of comic relief?

Snafus aside, the effort was all worth it. Online views of the listing doubled within 24 hours and I got three showing requests. My next on-camera appearance surely will be easier. I’m almost looking forward to it.