Virtual viewing has been a key business tactic during the coronavirus lockdown, for all sorts of industries and customer groups. As a landlord looking to rent out or sell your property, could virtual house tours help you kickstart the process?
Property portal OnTheMarket has recently launched a first-of-its-kind virtual viewing tool on its site, allowing people to filter their searches based on virtual tour availability, including 3D and video tour options. This is in reaction to a surge in demand from prospective buyers and tenants – they might not be able (or want) to make a physical visit right now, but are still keen to view.
Property magazine The Negotiator ran a quote this week from OnTheMarket’s Commercial Director, Helen Whiteley, revealing the site’s findings that ‘users who engaged with a video were over 200 per cent more likely to send an enquiry’.
It sounds like a useful tactic, but how easy is it to put into practice? Our guide to virtual viewing covers everything from virtual house tours and how to run them to setting up virtual property viewings with your agent or listings portal/website.
They're property viewings without setting foot inside the property. Virtual viewings and virtual house tours let users take a 'walk' through a property, looking inside each room (often from different angles). They usually work a lot like Google’s Street View, but can also be a recorded ‘fixed’ video, or a full 360-degree viewing experience.
The level of sophistication depends on your budget, and technology set-up (or your agent/listing website).
What’s available will depend on your estate agent or website. Here are the most common property virtual tours, and how they work:
Again, this works a lot like Google Street View. A 3D self-guided house tour will often start from a bird’s eye view plan, zoom in and let you navigate the layout with your mouse or trackpad. The Zoopla example we looked at even lets you take your own measurements.
This is what it says on the tin – it's where you or an agent walk around the property and record a video. Not as easy during lockdown, and sometimes lacking in high-tech functionality, it's a lower-cost option if the property is vacant or all parties are able to observe social distancing measures.
If you’re doing this yourself, lots of agents will let you submit your video for editing, before they make it available to viewers.
This works in much the same way as usual, with a booking system and calendar appointment slots. You or your agent will connect online with the prospective buyer or tenant, and show them around the property, talking through any questions and giving lots of detail.
Zoom is a good tool for this, but lots of other video call options work too.
You’ll need to check in with your agent, and different companies will require different things from their selling/renting landlord customers. Here are a few key questions to ask them, if you’re keen to make use of property video tours:
If you're doing it yourself or you're not sure how to carry out a house viewing online, here are the basic jobs to do first:
Zoom is famed for its virtual meeting features, but works brilliantly for things like virtual property tours, too. You can give multiple people access (so the prospective tenant or buyer, landlord (or seller) and agent can all be on the tour together), and answer any questions then and there.
Other good options are WhatsApp, which lets you share a video easily, and Instagram or Facebook Live – familiar with millions of people, but you’ll need to ensure good privacy settings are in place.
This is just the same as a regular in-person viewing, but you may get more flexibility as you won’t all need to be there in-person, and evening or early morning tours, for example, might be an option.
You’ll need to decide this ahead of time. Once on the Zoom (or similar) call, who’ll be directing the show and talking the viewer through your property? Decide this in advance, go at your prospective buyer or tenant’s pace and leave lots of room for questions, feedback and next steps.
This is up to you. Read through the guidance we’ve set out in this article and weigh up the benefits of sorting a viewing out yourself against having a professional take care of everything for you. If you’re registered with an agent anyway, they may offer virtual viewing options as standard.
Virtual house viewings are similar to regular property viewings, when it comes to preparing your house or flat and making it as appealing as possible. The difference is, you might not be there to make any quick adjustments, or show the best assets and features off up-close. To get ahead of these niggles, here are our top tips:
From cultural institutions and outdoor beauty spots to the properties on the rental and seller’s market, virtual viewings (particularly virtual house tours) are popular with the UK’s still largely housebound public.
Have you used virtual viewing yet? What do you think of it (and will you continue when restrictions are lifted?) Let us know in the comments.
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