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LI agents offer virtual tours to replace open houses amid coronavirus

Tal Adla, of Douglas Elliman, shows the equipment

Tal Adla, of Douglas Elliman, shows the equipment he has been using to offer potential buyers 360-degree video tours of houses for the past few years.  Credit: Douglas Elliman Real Estate/Tal Adla

How do you sell real estate in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic when people are advised to stay home and keep a safe distance from others? Some realtors have a solution — the virtual tour.

“I think it’s a really good temporary fix to what’s going on right now,” says Tal Adla, a broker with Douglas Elliman. “There’s nothing else that you can really do besides getting there.”

360-degree video vs. video

Though many realtors use video, Adla maintains that those don’t get into the nitty-gritty or any real visual details of the house and property as 360-degree video, where a view in every direction is recorded at the same time.

Some agents use Photoshopped, high production video that shoots at certain angles and vantage points which make the homes look better, notes Adla, adding that when they actually see the house, buyers are frequently disappointed.

“When you’re on 360, you look all around,” he says. “You’re there, looking all around. You can’t hide anything. It’s all there in 360. People love it because it’s very transparent.”

Having used this technology for the past four or five years, Adla says it’s especially convenient for people who are out of state or, for some reason, unable to attend an open house.

“It gives them a true vision, secondary to their being there personally,” he says.

At Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, brokers can create 3-D walk-throughs with Matterport digital technology that allows clients to see properties, three-dimensional floor plans and virtually measure areas around the house. In addition, Daniel Gale’s website offers short videos highlighting pertinent information to potential homebuyers on more than 100 communities throughout Long Island.

How it works

To host a virtual open house, Adla posts an announcement on his Facebook page, inviting people to join him for an interactive tour when he goes live.

Armed with his 360-degree gadgetry, Adla does the virtual tour by strolling around the house and property, as he highlights points of interest to his viewers.

“They don’t have to necessarily be watching me — they can be scrolling around on a computer,” he says, adding that on a cellphone, you can preview the house in all different directions.

Viewers can text Adla questions, which he then reads aloud and answers on the video, so that everyone can hear it, as they would if they were all actually there at the house.

The technology isn’t quite perfect, Adla admits, and it can at times distort sizes and shapes, like making his head appear too large for his body. To correct that, Adla supplements the 360-degree tour with a cellphone video of the house.

This weekend, Adla plans to do two 360-degree live video open houses for two of his listings: one in East Hampton, the other, in Southampton.

“It’s literally a virtual open house,” Adla explains. “You can be on your couch. You go through the video, you watch me walk through and we’re chatting. And then, once we’re done, you can re-watch it: forward, slow down, reverse —  whatever.”

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