Virtual viewings may be the saving grace for Estate Agents and lettings agents in the UK now they have the green light to start up business again. Haing several weeks of kicking their collective heels in the UK lockdown, only cave spiders gained from the property limbo as tenants moved out but landlords failed to find new occupiers of their flats and houses.
As the property market moves again from Mid May 2020 however, it comes with many provisos on allowing prospective tenants access to houses and flats. The market is embracing several ideas such as virtual viewings that, although have been available for a while, are new to agents that are more traditional in their approach to business.
At the heart of the problem is the issue of allowing physical access to the rooms of properties, while an existing tenant is in situ. Obviously, these tenants are reticent to allow access by strangers to their living spaces. The same is true for homeowners looking to sell. The pressure on these people is immense: They want to protect themselves and loved ones. They want to do the right thing, but the need to move forward with their lives – to bigger properties, or new towns – is important too.
If you analyse what people want from physical visits to properties, there are four main important ‘tests’: To see the property exists – there are actually bricks and mortar; to see the building’s location – where it lies compared to the main road or rail station; to get a feel for the space – will the sofa fit?; to see the layout – how far the bathroom is from the bedroom. Two of these tests are easily checked without any access, but the other two must be done within the new guidelines.
These Government guidelines mean physical viewings are allowed providing all parties agree to safety measures that protect everyone. For property sales, only serious buyers may physically view the home and these must be by appointment only. While the prospective buyer or tenant is on site, the windows and doors should be kept open so there is an airflow through the building. Also, the existing tenant or property owner should vacate the home while the prospect views the rooms. Being in the garden or out to the front of the property is fine and for flats, moving to common areas is also fine providing all parties observe social discancing guidelines. Following the visit, all surfaces, including door handles that may have been touched, should be cleaned. Lastly, everyone should follow the advice on hand washing.
Just reading these measures creates anxiety in people. Having to carry out these measures for visits is important but who wants to go through this worry needlessly? The main property brand (supported by five professional property associations), Propertymark, suggests that prospects have access to an online viewing of some sort, showing aspects of the home. How then, to best achieve this so prospective tenants or buyers can see what’s available?
Property listings need high end professional photography as part of their marketing pack these days, so showing room layouts is normal, but these do not indicate the relationship or layout of how rooms are connected. The best way of achieving this is via video or interactive 360 tour. The advantage of the 360 virtual viewing is being able to completely see every aspect of rooms as well as their interconnectivity. Additionally, 360 image tours work well with virtual reality headsets (which most videos do not). Below is an example of a four bed house, listed with one of my estate agent clients, that has a full 360 photo tour from the front elevation to the back garden as well as everything inbetween. Take a look.
The advantage to lettings and estate agents then is being able to qualify the enquiries for properties, so only the most serious prospects can physically visit the home. With the Live Video Chat function on the Bresserphotos 360 photo tours, agents may walk their prospects through a virtual viewing. They have the chance to point out the features of a place, focussing on the plusses rather than any negatives. Similary, the agent can offer control of the virtual viewing to the prospect so they can revisit areas where they may have queries or simply want a longer look at a particular room.
If you would like to find out more about the advantages of virtual viewings and 360 photo tours, simply get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org