The COVID19 pandemic has made some significant changes to how we do things, including how we buy and sell properties. Over the past couple of years, estate agents have turned to innovative methods to enable people to still view potential homes when they were unable to show buyers around potential properties in person due to social distancing measures. While COVID19 restrictions have since been relaxed, virtual viewings have taken off as house-hunters continued to look for new properties to buy during the COVID19 lockdowns. Estate agents have used virtual viewing technology that has proven so popular with buyers and renters that some were even willing to put in an offer on the property without ever visiting in person.
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How Virtual Viewings Work
There are various types of virtual viewings available, which will depend on the estate agent that is selling or showing you a property. Some virtual viewings use 3D cameras that enable potential buyers to take a self-guided tour around the property on their computer or smartphone, using their mouse or the touch screen to do almost anything that they would be able to do when visiting the property in person including standing in all the rooms, looking out of windows, and looking at various features and fixtures. Other virtual viewings are conducted by estate agents who take their own videos while walking around a property, before sending it to the viewer. Some estate agents also offer virtual appointments, in which they visit the property on their own and take potential buyers through a virtual viewing in the same way that they would if visiting the property in person.
If you are having a virtual viewing for a property and want to get a better idea of certain rooms within the property, you may be able to ask the estate agent to liaise with the buyer to send you additional photos, videos, or carry out a live tour of the property.
What To Consider During Virtual House Viewings
If you are in the process of looking to buy a property and are invited for a virtual viewing, it’s important to bear in mind that the video is unlikely to touch on any property negatives and is more likely to highlight the positives. Wherever possible, a live tour style of virtual viewing should be requested if you are unable to visit the property in person since this gives you the opportunity to look around the property and ask further questions. Buyers should take the time to make their own enquiries regarding the property and use tools like Google Street View to get a closer look. Before signing anything or making your offer, submit any questions or concerns that you have after a virtual viewing in writing.
How a Virtual Viewing on a Property Can Help Sell It
Nearly 8% of properties that are currently listed for sale offer some kind of virtual tour, according to Zoopla. However, virtual viewings are more likely to sell some properties than others, which has had an impact on the type of properties that you are more likely to find a virtual viewing option for. For example, residential properties are around seven times more likely to offer a virtual tour compared to commercial properties, and homes that are listed for sale are more likely to offer a virtual tour or video compared to rental properties.
Virtual viewings are beneficial for new-build homes in particular, and newer homes are twice as likely to offer a virtual viewing compared to older properties since buyers of newer homes may not be as concerned about visiting the property in person to look for any defects compared to when purchasing an older building.
How to Arrange Virtual Viewings on Your Property
If you have decided to sell your property, current guidelines advise both buyers and sellers that physical viewings are permitted as long as social distancing and other safety guidelines are followed, such as the wearing of face coverings. You may also want to allocate more time in between viewings on your property for cleaning and sanitization purposes. In a time where people are concerned about the COVID19 pandemic, however, it may be worth offering virtual viewings as a way for buyers to filter out your property if they are not interested or request a further viewing in person if they are serious about buying your property.
You can arrange virtual viewings on your property with any estate agent. There are several ways to do this, including taking your own video tour of the property, which you may be able to do simply using your smartphone, or having the estate agent visit to take a professional video tour of the property that will be uploaded to the listing. Live virtual viewings can also be arranged with potential buyers either through your estate agent or directly with yourself.
When conducting live virtual viewings, it’s important to be as honest as possible about your property and provide as much insight as you can. Bear in mind that any interested buyers may follow up by requesting a viewing in-person, where they will get a more thorough overview of the home.
Do Buyers Trust Virtual Property Viewings?
The Property Ombudsman published advice for estate agents on virtual and video viewings on 30 April 2021. The advice said that for property sales, video viewings should be used as a ‘filtering exercise’. A notice of offer agreed subject to viewing should be provided to serious buyers. In cases where it is possible, safe arrangements should be made for any serious prospective buyers to visit and view the property in person before an offer is accepted and the sale is completed. Estate agents have been advised to always offer customers a downloadable copy of the viewing, which should be kept on file in the event of a dispute. Sellers who are recording or conducting the virtual viewing themselves are reminded of the responsibilities that they have during this process using Consumer Protection Regulations.
Tips to Consider During a Virtual Property Viewing
If you are interested in purchasing a property that is offering a virtual viewing, there are some tips to consider before you make any further decisions after a video viewing or live tour. These expert tips include:
- After only seeing a property via a video or live tour, any agreement should always be made subject to a physical inspection of the property.
- Wherever possible, save any copy of a virtual tour either by downloading a copy or recording it. You can ask the estate agent or seller to provide you with a copy.
- Wherever possible, always ask for a live virtual tour rather than a pre-recorded and likely edited video tour. While this might not be as high-quality as a pre-recorded tour, it gives you the chance as a prospective buyer to give directions and ask questions, ultimately providing you with a more honest impression of the home.
- Remember to ask to see outside during the viewing; anything that you would be interested in seeing during a physical viewing such as the neighbouring properties, the garden, and how busy the area is should also be included.
Will Virtual Estate Agent Property Viewings Continue?
Despite COVID19 regulations being relaxed and physical house viewings allowed to continue, the current situation is uncertain, and with new COVID19 variants many people are still looking for safer alternative ways to go about processes such as viewing a new property. Because of this, virtual viewings are set to continue into the future as buyers use them to get a better overview of properties that they may be interested in before requesting a viewing in person on those that they feel strongly about. Virtual viewings may be likely to continue further into the future once the pandemic is over, as they save both time and money for sellers, buyers, and estate agents alike by allowing prospective buyers to view and make an initial decision about a property that they are interested in from the comfort of their own home.
Current Guidelines on Moving Home
During the COVID19 lockdowns, guidelines state that people should only move home if they had exchanged contracts on the property and were moving into a property that was not occupied. The guidance for occupied properties was for all parties to work together to agree on a suitable delay or follow appropriate social distancing guidelines in any circumstances where an agreement could not be reached. However, since lockdown measures were lifted and COVID restrictions relaxed, the process of buying and selling property has begun to get back to normal. Buyers can now look for new properties and move into one as normal, however, it is worth considering additional safety guidelines to protect both yourself and others during the process including social distancing during viewings, viewing a property virtually initially, the use of PPI such as face coverings or face shields, and additional cleaning of the property in between viewings.
If you are interested in selling or buying a property during these uncertain times, we’re happy to arrange a virtual viewing here at Greater London Properties.