With in-person showings no longer the norm because of the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s a new virtual spot to place your open house signs.
Thanks to the REALTOR.ca live stream feature, Canada’s No. 1 real estate platform* now supports all major livestreaming services and prominently displays them on your listing.
Maintaining an online presence can be an essential part of succeeding as a real estate professional, but what if you’re not all that tech-savvy or up to date on all the trends? Sure, you can tweet and know how to upload photos to Facebook, but do you know how to take full advantage of hosting a open house live?
DID YOU KNOW: Real estate portals are reporting an increase of between 200% to 500% in requests for virtual home tours since the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a survey done by Local Logic.
“REALTOR.ca visitors who view videos and virtual tours are 48% more likely to reach out to a REALTOR®,” says Justin Wah Kan, Associate Director, REALTOR.ca. “Buyers still want to interact with the listing agent—the person who knows the home best—and so we made it a priority to introduce this live stream open house feature on REALTOR.ca listings.”
OK, so you want to take the dive and go live. Excellent! It’s almost as easy as pointing and shooting, but obviously there are a few things you’ll want to remember to make sure your virtual tour or live stream goes off without a hitch.
- Take care of yourself
While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, the most important thing you can do is make sure you are conducting the live open house safely. Conduct the open house alone, to practice physical distancing. Protect yourself and your clients’ home by cleaning things you’ll be touching throughout the livestream, like doorknobs, using a disinfectant—but try to touch as little as possible. Ask the homeowners to leave lights turned on and prop open doors, if possible. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. While you aren’t entertaining many people at once, the virus can live on surfaces for up to days at a time.
- A smartphone
You don’t need much to get started, but a smartphone with a high-quality camera or different lens options is a must. Newer smartphones often have a variety of lenses, including wide-angle options, but there are third-party companies that make lens attachments for your phone. Be careful of fisheye-type lenses distorting the viewer’s perspective too much. Use a high-speed internet connection during you stream to ensure good quality.
At its core, a live video only needs a phone and an operator, but to stand out and make your experience more enjoyable to viewers, consider using a gimbal and a Bluetooth microphone. A gimbal will help stabilize your video if there are no built-in stabilizers on your smartphone and while audio is often overlooked in livestreams, a 2018 study by the University of Southern California and the Australian National University shows audio quality influences whether people believe what they hear—and whether they trust the source of information.
TIP: any type of headphones with a built-in mic will do, so long as they can connect to your smartphone.
- Promote your event
Would you expect people to show up to your party if you didn’t send out any invites? Of course not! Make sure to promote the live open house on your social media channels. “We advertise on our social media channels a few days before the live stream to help build excitement and get people intrigued about the listing,” says Lyne Burton, a REALTOR® and salesperson from Ottawa.
- Set a time limit
Go live for too short amount of time, and you won’t attract many viewers. Go too long and viewers will tune you out. A walk-through should take about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the property, and then you can open up the floor for a Q&A session.
- Practice and prepare
Before even thinking of going live, you’ll want to make sure you know the ins and outs of the property like the back of your hand. This will help you stay cool when prospective buyers are asking their questions. Research the areas of the home you want to highlight and use as selling features. Then, with your phone in your hand and thumb off the record button, rehearse as if you were going live. Focus on how you look, how to flip the front-facing camera to the rear-facing one and walk through the house to determine the best flow. “We have to live and work outside the box,” says Zee Zebian, a REALTOR® and salesperson from Calgary. “Things that make you feel uncomfortable at first may end up being the reasons you excel in your business.”
- Engage with your audience
You’ll want to entertain as well as inform. If you’re camera shy, the easiest way to entertain is to encourage your audience to ask questions. Monitor what people are typing in the comments and address their posts. Even by welcoming new viewers to the virtual open house, you’re engaging with your audience.
- Let your personality shine
If you’re a natural entertainer, now’s your time to let loose. If you’re more reserved, don’t feel pressure to be someone you aren’t. Remember, this is a time to show potential buyers your brand and why they should feel comfortable doing business with you.
- Remember your lighting
We’ve all been in rooms with no windows or burnt out bulbs, and those aren’t the places to post during your live stream. While you still might have to do your best to show off every nook and unlit cranny of the home, when responding to questions or when addressing your viewers, make sure you can be seen. The best lighting will be beside windows, just make sure you aren’t backlit.
- Track your performance
Social media sites like Facebook make it easy to track who viewed your live stream, how long they stayed on the video and your post’s reach. Use this information to build on your next live stream to figure out the best time of day to go live, elements that attracted the most engagement and how to attract a larger audience.
Remember, REALTOR.ca also supports many virtual tour and video service providers, including:
- Property Panorama
Share your live stream tips in the Comments below.