27 July, 2020
Since the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world, we’ve all had to quickly adapt to a changing environment and even once lockdown is officially over, we’ll be moderating how we interact for months (if not years!) to come. If you have been considering getting on the property ladder or indeed climbing the next rung, you will have probably heard people mentioning virtual viewings or a virtual house viewing as the new way to minimise human contact during the selling or letting process.
So, what actually are virtual viewings and what are the benefits? In fact, there are many benefits of using this technology for all parties involved in the home buying process that go over and above the obvious need to reduce physical interaction with a property’s occupants.
What are virtual viewings?
The phrases ‘virtual viewings’ and ‘virtual house viewing’ are used to describe a whole host of different ways of presenting a property either online, through the medium of video or via 3D 360 walkthrough tours.
Current government guidance states that “Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and that property agents should help you do this.” Most agents are now offering one of these options as a virtual way to conduct a first viewing but in the scrabble to comply with safety guidance and meet the demand for this highly sought after service, it has to be said there is quite a variance in the quality of offerings. Let’s have a quick run through of the different services.
Live virtual viewings using smartphone technology
Sellers show buyers around their home on their smartphone or tablet via a video conferencing app, such as Whatsapp, Facetime or Zoom, often with an agent on the call too. A cost-effective and cheap option for an agent to employ that will give a prospective buyer an overall impression of a property, but it does come with limitations for a buyer looking for a comprehensive virtual house viewing. Just one section of a room can be viewed at any one time, details are easily missed and it is hard to get a good perspective of the property as a whole. Once the viewing is over, there is little to refer to other than the property photographs and floorplan.
Video tours for virtual house viewing
Using professionally filmed video tours for virtual house viewing are nothing new but have understandably gained traction in the current climate. Filmed with proper camera equipment rather than a smartphone and accompanied by tinkling piano or upbeat music, they can provide a glossy overview of a home but come with a serious price tag. They are commonly used to market very high-end properties, especially where there is likely to be strong demand from overseas buyers but despite the plethora of new apps and technology that allow for easy editing and branding of video content, it is still a small minority of homes that are coming to market with a pre-recorded video tour.
360-degree walk-through tours
A 360-degree walkthrough tour created by a 3D imaging camera is probably the most high-tech option currently available. A 3D camera uses scanning technology to create an interactive ‘digital twin’ and dolls house of a property that buyers can navigate either in their own time or as part of an accompanied virtual viewing.
Matterport, the leading provider of virtual walkthroughs in the UK, offer immersive tours that allow users to be ‘in the room’ and move through the property using only their mouse, keyboard or finger on smartphones or tablets.
As we mentioned, one of the benefits of a virtual house viewing is that a viewer can walk around the property in their own time, but new technology launched May 2020, now enables an agent to host an accompanied virtual viewing whereby they can present a 3D tour via video conferencing facilities to potential buyers who can be logged in and not necessarily in the same location! A prospective buyer can ask questions as they move around and gather vital information from an agent about the local area, catchment schools etc.
At Michael Hardy, we strive to offer the best possible quality of marketing assets which is why we are proud to be able to offer a Matterport 3D walkthrough to those who choose to sell or let their home through us. Find out more about our property marketing in the video below.
The benefits of virtual viewings
We all understand the need for social distancing and keeping the viewing process as safe as possible but there are other benefits to carrying out at least that first viewing of a property remotely with a virtual house viewing.
If you are selling your property, and dreading the endless tidy-ups required prior to showing people around, then offering a 3D tour at the first viewing stage, can ensure that it’s only genuine buyers who will walk through your door. You will experience far less of the usual inconvenience that comes from last-minute cancellations and time wasters. You can potentially even sell your home quicker if all first viewings take place online as more people can be fitted in more quickly for virtual tours!
When you’re looking to buy or rent a home, virtual viewings can help you quickly draw up a shortlist without the need to traipse around numerous unsuitable properties. There’s a huge benefit from being able to look around a property at any time of day, at a time that suits you. If you’re attending an accompanied virtual viewing, your partner doesn’t need to be under the same roof, or (chance might be a fine thing right now) even in the same country! You can save a huge amount of time during the early stages of your search as well as the petrol costs/carbon emissions involved with travelling from property to property.
For all the benefits offered by virtual viewings, in most cases, they are not intended to replace the need for a physical viewing - simply offer a speedier and safer introduction. We feel that even after the pandemic is over, there will continue to be great demand for this technology. As a society we are all busier than ever, so anything that saves time and saves the costs and carbon emissions associated with travel has got to be a great thing in our book!
If you’re interested in finding out more about our 3D virtual tours or selling/letting your property through Michael Hardy, please contact us today on Wokingham 0118 9776 776 or Crowthorne 01344 779 999.