NYC real estate agents are now doing virtual showings

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

Despite the pandemic, there are still New Yorkers looking for places to buy and rent. So how do agents do open houses now with social distancing enforced?

NYC open houses right now

With the severity of the spread of COVID-19 in NYC, it is no surprise that traditional apartment searching is a bigger challenge. So how does the Coronavirus affect NYC real estate exactly? Real estate agents are used to a ton of people attending open houses, and have found now that they can host some without even a single visitor stopping by.

Many agents have cancelled or are limiting the amount of open houses that they will do these days for the sake of social distancing. This means that brokers had to find new ways to serve clients while also caring for public health and reducing the spread of COVID-19. As a result, 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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3-D home tours

One way that agents have been able to create a decent virtual touring experience is by creating 3-D models of their listings and sending them to prospective bidders. This tour format has become popular because it allows bidders to view the space in more detail than by just looking at 2-D photos.

These 3-D tours are also interactive! You can click through the space as if you’re there in person and walking through it.

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3D tours available for 2605 Marion Avenue in the Bronx

Agent-led video home tours

Some agents are deciding to do simple video home tours. This is sometimes a high-quality video that an agent has taken of an apartment beforehand, and sometimes it’s a livestream over Zoom, Skype, or Facebook.

One company, RICOH Tours is an example of how brokers can create video tours that are high-quality. They use 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 really want to see the place in person—but still want to maintain social distance—there are also self-tour options! For example, Rently is a software company that makes this possible via digital lockboxes. To use Rently, you can register online to view a home or apartment. After registration, go up to the front door with your phone and valid ID, and get a one-time access code to the space. Then, you can tour the listing in person—without having to come into contact with others!

Touring with robots

Yes, you read this correctly: you can now also tour apartments with robots. One company called Zenplace makes this possible. This company has robots with screens on them, and the real estate agent can talk to the customer via video chat through the robot. The robots can move around like a person, so the real estate agent can lead the buyers around the house!

Staying COVID-free during open houses

Although many brokers have chosen to temporarily stop traditional open houses and there are plenty of virtual tour opens available, some people may still want to see an apartment in person. So, there are new guidelines in place to do this, which include restrictions on frequency and length of open houses. Additionally, some apartments require 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 guidelines can vary from state to state. So NYC had these guidelines in place at the beginning of the pandemic, but 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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