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Real estate agents are creating new ways to introduce busy, remote or self-isolated clients to properties online. In order to reduce foot traffic in sellers’ homes during the pandemic, new digital showing trends have emerged.

Defining these digital property platforms clearly is important to help agents and consumers understand the difference.

The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has gathered feedback from the real estate industry in order to provide a standardized way to distinguish them.

live stream open house

Virtual tour: a pre-recorded or pre-existing, static digital exposure of a property. This includes pre-recorded video tours, 360-degree panoramic images, 3D digital tours, and pre-recorded showings available for playback.

Livestream open house: a real-time interactive digital open house at a scheduled time where an agent can communicate with potential buyers via a live video service. 

Agents can provide links to both virtual tours and livestream open houses in the MLS, but the need to distinguish between them is important. Consumers who want to attend a livestream open house shouldn’t be provided a link to a pre-recorded virtual tour.

Livestream open houses are created by agents on livestreaming platforms. Some popular examples include:

  • Facebook Live and Events
  • Zoom
  • Google Meets
  • Microsoft Teams
  • YouTube Live
  • GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar
  • Skype
  • Webex
  • Whereby
  • BlueJeans

A livestream open house allows agents and sellers to expose a property with maximum visibility. Buyers who cannot physically be in the area can still get customized feedback while viewing a home. In the current environment, clients who are uncomfortable with in-person experiences can avoid close contact. 

Increased Flexibility for Professionals and Consumers

Agents can customize tours of a home on the fly based on the requests of open house visitors. Many features are similar to an in-person tour, such as walking back through a room, turning to focus on a different wall and opening up a cabinet.

Agents can also answer live audio or text questions from multiple viewers, allowing the visitors to learn from each others’ questions and enhancing the agent’s ability to deliver a wide range of information about the property to a broad audience

Livestream open houses in the MLS need to be clearly identified to avoid the unwitting arrival of buyers at listings that are not open to the public, creating consumer dissatisfaction as well as health and safety concerns.

The RESO Standards

RESO’s Data Dictionary Workgroup created standard ways to express this kind of livestream open house data. These results will go to the RESO Board of Directors for ratification and become the agreed-upon method to define these new open houses for the industry’s technology companies.

Agents can select from:

  • Livestream Public Open House
  • Livestream Broker Open House
  • Public Open House
  • Office Open House
  • Broker Open House

It’s critical that livestream open houses are designated correctly, and not accidentally listed as traditional open houses. Buyers showing up at sellers’ homes unexpectedly would be problematic for everyone involved.

There will be a URL field in the MLS for an agent to input a link to the online location of the livestream open house. The only URLs entered into this field should be truly live interactive video broadcasts between agents and consumers or other agents/brokers.

Words Matter

When these events were called “virtual open houses” in an MLS, 99 percent of the URLs entered by agents were incorrect; they were prerecorded. When the events were changed to “livestream open houses,” 90 percent of URLs entered were for livestreamed events. So the industry has coalesced around the term “livestream open house.”

If an agent would like to hold a traditional open house and livestream it as well, the agent could create both a livestream and a traditional open house at the same time. Even after current social-distancing measures subside, this may become a popular technique to increase open house attendance long-term.

After a livestream open house, a recorded version of the open house may be available. That recorded tour should be stored as a virtual tour in the MLS.

Moving Forward with Livestream Open Houses and Virtual Tours

Recorded virtual tours and livestream open houses will continue to grow in popularity, as will the innovative ways to employ them. Properly describing these events distinctly will help the industry continue to support professionals and consumers in using innovative practices to buy and sell real estate. 

For more information, you can contact RESO at RESO members can discuss topics like this and other important real estate industry matters with the Data Dictionary Workgroup and its chair, Rob Larson, the Chief Information Officer of the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), in RESO’s member collaboration system.

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