Real Estate
6 minute read - Feb 24, 2021

The rise of virtual tours for real estate

The virtual tour – a technology once reserved for high-end luxury homes – is now a primary selling tool for most real estate transactions.
Michael Szelenyi
Enterprise Partnerships

According to the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the pandemic has accelerated changes in homebuyers’ habits. And most industry experts believe those changes are here to stay in a post-COVID world.

The biggest change is that buyers are trusting more in technology to make the process of home buying faster, easier, and more convenient. Here are three trends that show why virtual tours are the future of home sales.

Homes with virtual tours get more online engagement

Look at these first page results on the most popular real estate search websites. What do they have in common? They all have virtual tours.

First page result on Redfin.com for San Francisco, CA
First page results on Zillow.com for New York, NY
First page results on Realtor.com for Austin,TX

A record-high 97 percent of buyers searched for a new home online last year, an increase from 93 percent the year before. And the average time spent looking for a home decreased to only eight weeks from 10 weeks in 2019. During those eight weeks, home buyers looked at an average of nine houses, with five of them viewed exclusively online.

As more and more buyers search online for their homes, photos and virtual tours have increasingly become the best way to attract their interest and hold it there.

One study found that web visitors remain on a site with virtual tours five to 10 times longer than sites without them. And it’s no stretch of the imagination to say that the longer a buyer stays on a page, the more likely they are to contact the agent or the seller for more information.

“Real estate listings featuring virtual tours are clicked on 40% more often than those using still photos alone. When asked, 75% of all prospects surveyed said that they preferred virtual tours to assist in the decision making process.”  - Planet Home Study

Virtual tours also boost the visibility of listings on the major search engines, such as Zillow, realtor.com, and Redfin. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2020, virtual tours soared up 750% in the month after COVID stay-home orders went into effect across the U.S. and continued to remain twice as high as the previous year through late November.

Here’s more proof of the new power of virtual tours in the real estate industry. Realtor.com statistics report that listings with virtual tours receive 87% more views than home listings without tours and that 54% of buyers skip over listings of properties that don’t include virtual tours.

More buyers are making offers without ever visiting a home in person

Redfin agents report that about one in 10 of their home tour requests is for remote video tours. And here’s a stunning statistic. According to a Redfin survey of more than 1,900 home buyers across 32 major real estate markets, 63% made an offer on a property that they hadn’t seen in person. That number is twice the number from the previous year.

And data from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also shows that people are becoming more comfortable with buying a home all online - without visiting the property at all. The percentage of buyers who bought a home without seeing it in person has almost doubled, up to 5 percent in 2020 from 3 percent before the pandemic. This trend will only continue to rise as people get more used to relying on virtual tours and as younger generations of homebuyers enter the market who prefer to use new technology.

Today’s industry experts agree that virtual tours help reduce both agent and home buyer time spent in wasted viewings by about 40%. And a Planet Home study found that 75% of home buyers consider a virtual tour to be a significant factor in their decision-making process.

In an interview with realestateboston.com, Brian Caluori, a broker with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, described virtual torus as a valuable pre-screening step that is here to stay.

“Why take the time to go see a property when you can view the virtual tour before you even step inside the house?” he asked.

Buyers are expecting virtual tours as the gold standard for buying a home online

Gautam Pant, a professor of business analytics at The University of Iowa, conducted a study on thousands of homes sold in southern California and his team found that virtual tours make agents appear more professional. In in an interview with radioiowa.com professor Pant said:

“Sellers of desirable homes that are more likely to fetch a higher price are more likely to choose an agent who uses virtual tours in their marketing package” - Professor Gautam Pant, University of Iowa

Pant’s team found that homes with virtual tours sold about 6% faster and sold for 3% more compared to similar listings without virtual tours. The 2020 study also revealed that agents who hosted more online virtual tours and open houses sold more properties than those who did not use those tools.

Home buyers’ behavior is changing, they demand more convenience and are using more technology to shop for homes. Agents that will continue to perform are the ones that will adapt and embrace new technologies such as virtual tours.

Need virtual tours or photography for your listings?


If buyers are ruling homes in or out based on virtual tours – and all the data shows that is precisely what is happening – then those visuals must be of the highest quality. That’s why top-earning agents are using Snappr.

Snappr is the one-stop marketplace for all your real estate photography needs and we offer virtual tours and professional photography so you can get all you need to list your property fast and sell for more. Get everything you need to list a property so you can create an online home shopping experience your customers will love and won’t soon forget.

Snappr has the largest network of professional photographers and we cover 90% of the US so you can get photography and virtual tours for your listings. Let Snappr take care of your home’s photos and virtual tours so you can focus more on selling.

Talk to a Snappr representative to see how we can provide you a complete photography solution for your real estate needs.

About the author

Michael Szelenyi
Enterprise Partnerships

Michael Szelenyi leads partnerships for enterprise Real Estate clients at Snappr. He has helped dozens of major players in the industry with their content strategy. He is available for a no-obligation consultation about your Real Estate photography needs.

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