NYC real-estate agents are now holding virtual and self-touring showings

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April 3, 2020
virtual home tours are a thing right now

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, there are still New Yorkers looking for a new home to rent or purchase. So how do open houses work now with the shelter in place mandate?

Real estate in New York City: open houses right now

With the severity of the spread of COVID-19 in New York City, it is no surprise that traditional and typical apartment searching is a bigger challenge. So how does the Coronavirus affect NYC real estate exactly? For one, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a shift from many people attending open houses to some open houses without even a single visitor.

The fear of the Coronavirus has led to the cancellation of the majority of open houses, and social distancing and reducing exposure to other people have become the new norm. This means that brokers had to find a new way to give great service to clients while also caring for their health and well-being by reducing the spread to COVID-19. 

Types of open houses during the Coronavirus pandemic

Government recommendations of shelter in place, social distancing, and only going out for essential grocery runs means that open houses right now are not the typical ones you would think of. Instead, virtual home tours and open houses have become increasingly popular. If you’re currently apartment hunting from your home, here are just a few types of open houses you can attend now.

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3D home tours

One simple way to virtually tour an apartment is by looking at the three-dimensional tours available for some listings. It’s a great way to preview the apartment before deciding if you want other types of tour formats to further view the space in more detail.

It is also a lot better than just simply viewing the pictures of an apartment listing because the 3D home tours are interactive. You can click through the space as if you’re there in person and walking through it! It can give you the feel of the space and how the layout is like to help you determine if it’s the type of place you would like to live in.

the best 3d apartment viewing website
3D tours available for 2605 Marion Avenue in the Bronx

Agent-led video home tours

Another great virtual open house option is an agent-led video home tour. Depending on the company and broker, it can be either a high quality video that an agent had taken of an apartment beforehand, or even a live stream upon request. These streams can take place using various platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook, and many more.

One company, RICOH Tours is an example of how brokers can create these high quality tours that will immerse you into the feel of an actual apartment viewing. They do it by using cameras that are able to capture a high definition 360 degree space that’ll make you feel like you’re standing in the space yourself. Agent-led video home tours are also a great way to showcase a space to many people at one time while practicing social distancing.

Video chat tours

For those that don’t want to leave their home or take public transportation to view an apartment space, video chat tours are also a great option. Unlike agent-led tours, which are videos or streaming of an apartment, some brokers are doing video chat tours instead. These tours are FaceTime or video calls with the agent.

This form of an open house is more personal and allows for more flexibility compared to a video because you are able to directly talk to the broker one on one. Additionally, it is also customizable to your needs, such as being able to ask certain questions about the space or viewing aspects of the apartment in detail. 

how to self your apartments in nyc
Attend a virtual tour at 526 East 83 Street in Manhattan


If you feel comfortable or are allowed to leave your home, but want to maintain social distance, there are also self-tour options in place for you! Rently is a software company that makes this possible through digital lockboxes. Buyers are able to register with their information online to view a home or apartment, then go up to the front door with their phone and valid ID, and get a one-time access code to the space.

That way, the buyer to tour a space in person without having to come into contact with others. It is even better for the sellers because they can still have people tour their home even if a broker can’t meet with the potential buyer. 

Touring with robots

Yes, you read this correctly: you can also tour a space with robots. Attending an open house during this time can pose many potential worries for the broker, buyer, and even seller. A company called Zenplace allows potential buyers to tour an apartment without the broker being physically present. Their robot tours consist of robots with screens where a real estate agent can talk to a customer through video chat. The robots are also able to move so the agent can even lead the buyers around the house!

Open houses guidance

Although many brokers have chosen to temporarily stop traditional open houses and there are plenty of virtual tour opens available, some may still want to see an apartment in person. So how are brokers able to still host open houses amidst the Coronavirus pandemic? 

For one, there are new guidelines in place for when buyers meet with a potential buyer. These include restrictions of how often and how long these open houses occur, with some apartments requiring a pre-registration to access. Some new standard practices for brokers also include making sure to follow CDC guidelines about having gatherings of less than ten people, ensuring the potential buyers are not sick, don’t bring children, and have not travelled recently. There are also sanitary rules in place such as washing or sanitizing hands when entering, no touching of surfaces, and taking shoes off at the door or at least wearing protective booties.

It is important to note that these guidelines can vary from state to state and while NYC had these guidelines in place at the beginning of the pandemic, things are quick to change.

Let Localize help you with your NYC home hunt without leaving your own. We have insights on every property listed on the market and you can even read reviews about different buildings and learn about things you wouldn’t be able to find out with just a one time tour.

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