Realtor predicts virtual home tours are here to stay

A view from a virtual home tour provided by The Solomon Group. (WSAW photo)
A view from a virtual home tour provided by The Solomon Group. (WSAW photo)(WSAW)
Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 9:01 PM CDT
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The COVID-19 pandemic and the Safer at Home order that came along with it forced the real estate market into unknown territory.

“It was a big transition for everybody,” explained Austin Solomon, a Wausau real estate agent and founder of The Solomon Group. “There was a lot of panic, a lot of hesitation for sellers to allow showings, and basically our industry got turned upside down real quick.”

That uncertainty of allowing strangers into the homes for sale allowed The Solomon Group to present a new concept that had been seen in other parts of the country, but is relatively new to the Wausau market.

“In the real estate space, we had to quickly adapt and pivot to modify our showing activities and modify how we conduct business,” said Solomon. “There was still a lot of people that wanted to buy a house or had to buy a house, so they were a little bit leery about going into other people’s homes and following protocol and stuff like that.”

The virtual home touring capabilities that the group offers allows those interested in a home to get a 3D virtual tour from the comfort of their own home, allowing potential homeowners to see all aspects of the home, including specific measurements and layouts that would otherwise be a challenge to see through basic pictures.

“They can tour a house at their own discretion. They can be the ones that are empowered to view the home,” Solomon said. “We always wanted to roll out that technology, and as soon as the Safer at Home order came out, we’re like ‘Boom,’ now’s the time. Let’s make the investment, let’s make it happen.”

Solomon says the virtual tours make it easier to separate those who are just looking from the serious buyers that are on the market, along with giving people that live further distances away the chance to get an in-depth look at a home they’re interested in.

“You can get a good sense of the home, the layout and everything that’s going on before you even step foot in the door,” Solomon explained. “A lot of times, you can eliminate a home by going on the virtual tour and it saves a lot of time.”

Solomon says the feedback that they received was very positive, encouraging the group to continue offering the virtual tours, which are included with the services The Solomon Group provides, for the foreseeable future as the real estate market continues to show a high demand among buyers.

“There’s people that, no matter what, are going to have job changes, going to have life changes. Those job changes and life changes drive housing changes,” explained Mike Zahrt, vice president of First Weber Realtors. “No matter good, bad, indifferent in the world, what’s going on; there are going to be needs for housing moves.”

Both Zahrt and Solomon agreed that following the pandemic, it’s a seller’s market, adding they believe it will stay that way for the remainder of 2020.

“As we move forward, there may be some shortages due to some of the building that wasn’t occurring or some of the supplies that may not be available to those builders (due to the pandemic),” explained Zahrt. “Meaning that, if you take that new home segment out of the market, there’s going to be an even larger demand on the current inventory.”

A demand from buyers that Solomon hopes will be able to utilize the virtual touring capabilities to help make the process more convenient and successful.

“People want to be able to see what’s really going on,” Solomon added. “We’re definitely not the first ones to implement this in the state, or the nation. I would say we’re the first ones at scale to implement it in the Wausau area and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people join in. That’s totally cool! Our goal is to provide the most value for our buyers and sellers and if other people want to do the same, that’s fantastic.”