The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for many businesses. While Canadians continue to do their part, staying home as much as possible and practicing social distancing to slow the spread, entire industries are looking for creative and effective ways to operate safely. Real estate is no exception. Despite being an essential service, many provinces and territories have placed a ban on all in-person open houses. This, paired with the necessary stay-at-home measures, means Canadians are limited in how they can visit homes that interest them.
The effects of this were immediately evident in the numbers. In the week leading up to the provincial and Canadian COVID-19 response, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) had already felt the negative impact of the situation, with visits to REALTOR.ca having dropped by 30%. It was clear the industry and its tools had to adapt, and quickly.
The New Normal | Virtual Tours and Live Streams
Going virtual was the obvious solution. Pivoting to the new normal, CREA integrated live video tours into their website from various popular platforms, such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Zoom and YouTube. However, to make the feature as useful as possible, they required mobile app integration for iOS and Android, as well. Lixar and CREA have a long-standing partnership, as we have supported their mobile app for quite some time, so they immediately approached us for help.
With the circumstances of the pandemic applying ever-increasing pressure, time is of the essence. Lixar has a demonstrated reputation for accelerating solutions, “which is key for CREA to provide state of the art technology to its 130,000 members” (CREA). Aligning the app and website means offering home buyers an accessible and practical way to join live streams of open houses, so that they can view what might just be their next home, even in these challenging times. At the simple click of a button on their phones, consumers will be able to join live open houses, being instantly redirected to a specific video platform. This also allows REALTORS® to continue working throughout the pandemic, safely and within regulations.
Since launching the new and improved virtual tours and live open house feature, CREA has seen a 14% increase in website traffic, and a 25% increase in consumer inquiries. Moreover, the tool itself has already been used to conduct more than 5000 tours. These numbers will only increase once the feature becomes available through the app.
– Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of CREA
While video streaming itself may not be anything new, what CREA and Lixar are offering is a whole new user experience for REALTORS® and buyers. In the short term, this means the industry can remain effective during the pandemic, and buyers can continue to search for their next homes. This is especially important now that we are all spending more time inside than ever, getting a better idea of what we want out of our homes; access to virtual home viewings allows consumers to better assess their needs, and ensure they find exactly what they’re looking for. In the long term, this new normal will prove beneficial for buyers who are facing any number of challenges to in-person visits, from organizing moves across long distances to having limited mobility or time.
We are all living in a new reality, and this is a new market. Industries must be ready, and with Lixar’s support, CREA has ensured that it is. Not only does this technological shift facilitate an essential service, but it’s reimagining what that service might look like from here on out. More accessible. More inclusive. And right at your fingertips. Simply put, this technology is a game changer, and Lixar is proud to have a role in making it possible.
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