Virtual Tours Help Sell Homes

In our current real estate market, even with bank foreclosures and short sales, one thing is absolutely true: to sell a house quickly or for top dollar, you have to DO MORE to sell it. But if you look at traditional “old school” methods of marketing a property like newspaper advertising, you will see it isn’t a good value. This is so much so that one of our broker clients (one of the largest privately held brokerage firms) has completely stopped subsidizing advertisements in the newspaper (like the Washington Post) all together for their sales staff.

This is partly due to the fact that newspapers continue to paint a picture of doom and gloom in the real estate marketplace that hurts homeowners’ views of real estate professionals and the home buying and selling process. Why should agents continue to supply revenue to a newspaper business that is talking badly about your business environment and hurting your chances of generating revenues? The fact of the matter is that the amount of homes on the market, or inventory, is actually at a “normal” rate for the marketplace. The prices are “falling” because they shot up so fast that the market has to correct itself. Lenders are hurting because they wanted to cash in on those escalating prices without understanding that there is historically ALWAYS an end to this pattern.

Here at BakerB Solutions we conducted an analysis of a homogeneous neighborhood in the Washington DC suburbs of Potomac Maryland. It is homogeneous because all of the homes are relatively the same size and were built within 2-3 years of one another. All were modest single family homes (no condos or townhouses) and most did not have any major renovations in this time frame to make them have a greater relational value. According to our findings, we saw that over a 50 year period the values of homes doubled every 8 to 12 years (10 being the average). By looking at these results, we found a spoon shaped curve or pattern to the upward prices of homes. Effectively if you start the beginning of the 10 year cycle, you see that the price of homes start fairly flat and even recedes for a period. Then it flattens again and then stars a gradual climb. Near the last 3 to 4 years there is an exponential rise (or close to that) in the values before the next plateau or slight decline. This pattern holds true for all of the five 10 year cycles in this time frame.

So while prices are down a bit in our area, the trend is actually normal. And a normal market means that homes that are prepared well and priced well sell in the first 30 days. Homes that are priced too high in good condition and whose owners recognize the need to lower their price under the advisement of their agent usually sell within 45 to 90 days. Homes where the condition or location is not ideal, AND the owner is unwilling to drop their price stay on the market for 180 to 365 days or more. This last scenario is usually the case where the owner is in over their head by leveraging too much of the bank’s money. If they were to sell at current rates, they would actually owe the bank money. But most don’t pay the bank; they let the bank have the house. But if you think about it, how motivated is this owner now to sell their home? They won’t see a penny of the money. So it becomes the bank’s problem. But with a disgruntled owner, the condition of the property usually drops steadily.

So while it is a difficult market to sell homes, selling a home is what agents get paid to do. For all classes of home sellers the STRONGEST tool they have to sell their home the fastest is the Internet. Gone are the days where people waited to get the Sunday advertisements in the newspaper to mull over what open houses are available to look at after breakfast.

Now are the days of instant access to homes via the Internet. Access by way of interactive virtual tours provided by companies like BakerB Solutions backed by RTV technology. The virtual tour is THE source of ruling a house as “IN” or “OUT” for consideration. And homes listed in the MLS without as much as a single photograph are instantly ruled “OUT”, because “obviously something must be wrong with it if they won’t even show us some pictures.”

Homes with 360 virtual tours let you view the home’s exterior and interior. They allow you to navigate through the home as if you were actually there walking up the stairs and into bedrooms. They show panoramic views so you can tell that the home office is on the main floor or that the laundry room is in the hall upstairs.

We work with agents that have actually sold homes sight unseen because of our beautiful photographs integrated into our virtual tour. In one case the wife is in Mississippi looking at homes online. She discovered a modest single family home in Germantown Maryland priced near $500,000 that had a BakerB Solutions virtual tour. Her husband is in Iraq defending Democracy. From Mississippi and Iraq the couple was able to use our virtual tour to see that the home we helped to market was a good fit for their needs. They made an offer on the house solely on the information and description provided by the agent along with the BakerB Solutions virtual tour. Now both buyer and seller have a ratified contract.

So you can see that even in this real estate climate homes still can be sold. Buyers still need homes to live in. But homes without a virtual tour are just not as likely to get the same level of attention as homes WITH a virtual tour.

The end result is that while other types of businesses are struggling in this economy, strong virtual tour providers such as BakerB Solutions are actually increasing business. In fact our business doubled in the past 3 years alone. We are on track for another record year again. And we are growing, opening up new offices outside our market area. Already we have offices in N Potomac and Salisbury Maryland, Ashville North Carolina, Surrey UK, and Vienna Austria.

Real estate agents and home owners need to do more to sell homes, and the best way to do that is by having a professional provide a virtual tour. More and more people are starting to understand that. And this means that our business will continue to grow such that virtual tours become the norm for all homes being sold in our market area and across the country and even across the world.

Alex Saenger
BakerB Solutions
Maryland Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour – 301-424-8272