In response to social distancing efforts throughout the country, many real estate professionals have turned to virtual showings and transactions. The residential market has been a leader, with many agents already familiar or set up for virtual deals, and the trend could have a lasting effect. Consumers could prefer the ease of viewing properties virtually and handling obligations online.

"Once the pandemic ends, we expect that prospects will become increasingly comfortable with making buying decisions using virtual tools," Crel Vogel, sales manager at Optima Kierland, tells "They will see how seamless and effective the virtual tools are and might gain further confidence in the process knowing that many other buyers have adopted this modern method of home purchasing. The sales associates may see a shift in how they spend their time, with more relationship-building and cultivating contacts via phone and video chat rather than in person drop-ins."

Of course, once social distancing measures soften, interested buyers will still come to the property—and leasing galleries aren't going to disappear. However, the trend toward an online interactive experience will accelerate. "Although we still expect prospects to come into the sales gallery, the interactive platform is another great way for the buyer and the salesperson to interact," says Vogel. "We will continue to use our virtual tools after the pandemic ends and will have a much more effective and comprehensive virtual communication process to continue to be industry leaders."

Vogel expects these tours to be popular for both in-state buyers as well as out-of-state buyers, who are currently the primary demographic for these tools. "The virtual tours are a nice added option/touch that make the buyers feel connected and even more confident in their purchase decision," he says. "With the onset of Covid-19, we expect a bigger demand of virtual tours from both in-state and out-of-state buyers."

This is nothing new. Buyers have been slowly using online tools more and more often, and as a result, companies like Optima were already set up to accommodate virtual services. "Many of our homeowners prefer an online and by-phone experience during the purchase process, which we have been happy and adept at accommodating," says Vogel. "The sales team and many Optima Kierland buyers are very comfortable with progressing sales virtually. Not only did we begin doing this over three years ago with the first for-sale condo tower, 7120 Optima Kierland, but 50% of our buyers are also from out of state so virtual communication is the preferred method. These buyers and prospects have confidence in the Optima brand, are familiar with the high-quality that Optima consistently has delivered with four developments in Scottsdale, and are further energized by the high volume of sales at 7180 Optima Kierland to date so they don't need to come physically to the Sales Gallery."


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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.