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Vail Valley real estate using virtual tech to continue to show homes to clients

Tools range from Facebook Live to 3-D images of homes and virtual reality tours

Technology allows viewers to see both a home's floor plan, shown here, down to details including current finishes and fixtures.
Take a tour Anyone can tour some pretty exclusive real estate these days. David McHugh of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty provided a link to a home on Holden Road in Beaver Creek. Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate’s Catherine Jones Coburn and Donna Caynoski can take you on a tour of a home on Vail’s Beaver Dam Road.

Technology often morphs quickly from a pretty neat thing to have into an essential tool. That’s happening now in the real estate business.

In order to maintain social distancing requirements, the most recent state health orders prohibit clients and brokers from taking in-person tours of homes for sale. That means home tours are now being done using online tools.

Local real estate companies have been using virtual tours for some time. That’s useful for potential buyers who live in other states, or countries. Using technology ranging from Facebook Live to 3-D home tours to virtual reality showings, brokers can show customers a wide variety of homes in a relatively short time.

Prospective buyers can also use technology to get a clear view of a home, with tools that allow measuring heights or distances. In short, you can see how high the showerhead is in the master bath.

Tools also include ways to envision possible changes.

It’s a time-saver

David McHugh of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty has been working with various pieces of technology for several years. He’s completed about $40 million in sales using technology that can save a buyer at least one trip to the Vail Valley.

That time saving is important, McHugh said. A client can look at several homes virtually, then focus on a select few on a visit.

Now, though, the only way to get an in-person tour is if a home is under contract. That can be difficult.

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate has also been using virtual tours for a few years.

Sara Roberts, the vice president of marketing, said the firm has been encouraging brokers to use technology in their business.

“We’ve been training a lot,” Roberts said. At this point, she said, those brokers are “pretty used to working remotely.”

Technology isn’t always using 3-D and virtual reality tours, though. Roberts said brokers are encouraged to use Facebook Live as they’re walking through their own neighborhoods as a way to connect with clients.

Brokers are also encouraged to use Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms.

That allows everyone to maintain their distance while still staying in touch.

Facebook Live can also be a good way to conduct a virtual open house, Roberts said. One of those sessions, in Summit County, ended up with more 1,000 views.

Michael Slevin is the owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties. Slevin said technology has become a good addition to a broker’s tool kit.

“People are learning to utilize technology in a variety of different ways,” Slevin said.

Helping sellers

“For sellers, we’re continuing to showcase their properties — we’re doing everything we can short of physically being there.”

The virtual tools add “more depth” to the process, Slevin noted. The company website has gone from property listings and open house announcements to 3-D tours of homes.

The addition of virtual reality to the available tools provides an even “more immersive” experience, Slevin said.

“Buyers for the vast majority of listings will be able to put on a headset and really experience (a home),” he added.

The technology available to show a home will only improve. It will also probably become a permanent part of how real estate is bought and sold.

Kam Bozich is the senior digital marketing manager for Slifer Smith & Frampton. Bozich said some of the business won’t change, but many things will.

Technology “will never replace that physical (experience — it absolutely will be essential.” But, she added, technology is a “game-changer” for the business.

“There are going to be new, long-lasting habits,” Roberts said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.


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