'Coronavirus clauses,' virtual tours become norm for real estate industry during pandemic

Real estate business looks to keep running as crisis continues

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As the coronavirus pandemic is keeping more would-be homebuyers at home, real estate agents are looking for new ways to cater to their needs while adhering to social distancing and self-quarantining.

At The Agency, agents are sharing virtual tours of properties online.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen the online viewership for our listings increase exponentially as people are staying at home and keep up on the latest real estate on their computers,” agent Sandro Dazzan told FOX Business.

The Agency recently posted a video on Instagram showing Dazzan and fellow agent Cooper Mount giving a virtual tour of a 13,926-square-foot Malibu, California home with seven bedrooms and 13 bathrooms that’s listed for $18.75 million.

“Being able to offer virtual walk-throughs has been a compelling tool to keep buyers engaged in the market and up to date during this time,” Dazzan said.

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Brokers across the country have also been adding a “coronavirus clause” to real estate sale contracts, Inman reported. The addendums give buyers options to extend or back out of a deal under certain circumstances, similar to a “force majeure” clause.

Real estate firm Redfin reported a slump in the Seattle real estate market in the early days of the U.S. outbreak. Since then, the growing pandemic has effected markets across the country, with year-over-year growth dropping from close to 27 percent in January and February to a slight contraction last week, according to the brokerage.

Meanwhile, Redfin also reported seeing a 494 percent in requests for agent-led video home tours last week.

Auction houses have been offering similar options. For the upcoming sale of a 5,623-square-foot mansion in Naples, Florida, Elite Auctions posted a video tour of the four-bedroom, five-bathroom home.

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Elite is also accepting remote bids via phone or video, the auction house said.

Of course, real estate marketing videos existed before the coronavirus pandemic. But if they keep the real estate industry running in the meantime, they probably won’t be going away anytime soon. David Parnes of the Agency filmed a virtual tour for a $19.95 million Beverly Hills, California home with seven bedrooms and 12 bathrooms before the outbreak hit.

"In lieu of the traditional open house, virtual tours provide a way for buyers to continue their property search during this time and offer the ability to tour properties ‘virtually’ as many times as they desire from the safety and comfort from homes,” Parnes said.

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