Virtual tours – why they are what every buyer and tenant has been looking for

For some time now, buyers and tenants across the country have almost exclusively been searching for property online. Digital property browsing is now de rigueur.

However, despite the convenience and flexibility they require, this hadn’t been the case for virtual/video tours before the pandemic struck. During lockdown, of course, they became an absolute necessity. Even now the restrictions are being gradually eased as part of the government’s three-step plan, the guidance makes clear that they should still be prioritised in the first instance.

Everyone involved in the moving process should do as much of it remotely as possible. For most this will include watching video footage or conducting a virtual tour to be sure that the home is one they are genuinely interested in. Buyers and tenants should only progress to an in-person viewing – with all the new protocols that requires – when they are serious.

In many ways, the industry has been crying out for this way of filtering out non-serious buyers. While timewasters might be too harsh a word, it’s definitely been the case in the past that some buyers and tenants view homes they have no interest in. Or out of pure curiosity.

Using virtual tours as a way of separating the serious from the non-serious will help to speed up the process for all.

The rise and rise of virtual tours

Circumstances have, of course, played a big part in their sudden popularity. Virtual tours have been around for some time, but while they weren’t a necessity they didn’t catch on. People generally preferred a physical viewing.

Now, with social distancing at play, they are likely to be the first port of call for buyers and tenants before they know they really like a place. In nearly all cases, they will still require a physical viewing. But sellers will know they have motivated, interested buyers entering their homes.

Virtual tours can’t quite recreate the sights, sounds and sensations of an in-person viewing. But they are the next best thing. And thanks to rapid advances in technology, the right software can mean you feel like you are really there.

For time-poor, busy people, being able to view a home on the move will be a dream. People will also only want to travel to a home – potentially by public transport if it’s in a major city – when they know it is right up their street.

Virtual tours can give an excellent idea of the layout and formation of a home. They can help to highlight the home’s main attributes. Whether that be an immaculate, spacious garden, a stylish loft conversion or a brand-new bathroom.

While some sense of normality is returning as lockdown restrictions are slowly relaxed, it’s not a case of as you were. Things are going to remain very different for some time yet, and there are likely to be long-term legacies from the pandemic.

As well a greater appreciation of nature, a greater take-up of walking, cycling and running, and a greater desire for a garden, remote working is likely to become far more commonplace. And virtual viewings are likely to be here to stay as a key tool for agents and sellers.

More investment will be made into this technology to make it better, more lifelike and more realistic. VR headsets/technology may be used much more, for an immersive experience.

One of the strange things, given how connected and digital-friendly the world now is, is how it’s taken a global pandemic for virtual tours to come to the fore. Some agents dismiss their usefulness, but many recognise the increasingly important role they will play moving forward.

The moving process is only going to get more digital and tech-led, accelerated by Covid-19. The Land Registry is already working with various conveyancing partners to introduce digital identity checks. While its ongoing Digital Street project is aiming to speed up the homebuying and selling process through tech solutions such as blockchain.

The coming years will be a time for tech to shine, alongside traditional agency techniques and solutions, as we adapt to a post-coronavirus world. Many have argued that the tech revolution – with a much higher number of people working remotely and a greater use of tech in all aspects of life – was coming shortly anyway. But Covid-19 has brought this forward by five to ten years.

Different solutions for buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords will be required. In-branch meetings will continue to be discouraged and likely remain on an appointment-only basis. While in busy cities such as London buyers and tenants might wish to rely more heavily on tech to avoid close contact. Communication is likely to continue its shift from digital to face-to-face in many aspects.

Here at Atkinson McLeod, our offices are open but we’re heavily promoting virtual tours, using a software called Matterport. Listen to what our Director, Giles Atkinson is saying about our partnership with this virtual tour software platform.

We are offering free virtual tours for any property. You can sign-up and get a virtual tour of your property here.

In a previous blog, we looked at what the property market looks like now and for the foreseeable. If you have any questions about selling, buying, letting or renting a home in the London area, we are here to help.

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To find out more about our services and current operations, please get in touch with our expert team today. You can find out how much your home could be worth on the current market by requesting a free and instant online valuation here.

Virtual tours – why they are what every buyer and tenant has been looking for
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Virtual tours – why they are what every buyer and tenant has been looking for
For some time now, buyers and tenants across the country have almost exclusively been searching for property online. Digital property browsing is now de rigueur.
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Atkinson McLeod
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