Social distancing required by the COVID-19 lockdown on travel and physical interactions has pushed real estate companies into new areas of creativity.

Potential buyers, who can otherwise not visit a property, are using applications of virtual reality and so-called virtual tours to ‘visit’ properties. Eddie Shapiro of Nest Seekers International, one of the world’s fastest growing real estate firms, says his company offers virtual tours and virtual reality options for its properties as well as Google meetings, YouTube Live and Facebook Live to orchestrate virtual open houses.

With conventional open houses — events hosted by real estate companies where properties are opened to visits by prospective buyers — all but impossible to have in the time of pandemic, virtual open houses have allowed buyers to continue viewing and touring properties as they otherwise would in-person.

Nest Seekers International says that approximately 60% of its listings have a video component and that they intend to have that number at 100% as soon as possible.

Property buyers in China, facing the brunt of COVID-19, have flocked to virtual property tours. In February 2020, according to news site SupChina, 350,000 virtual tours per day were hosted by Chinese real estate agents, 35 times the number of tours hosted just the month before. Chinese buyers have also become a force in international property.

According to statistics from the US-based National Association of Realtors, Chinese buyers have purchased the highest dollar amount among international buyers for the past seven years.