This article was originally published with Estate Agent Today on 8th January 2021.
With the Government announcement this week of another national lockdown across England amid the surging coronavirus infections, it once again puts Estate Agents in the same dilemma as they were faced with last year, as to whether they should continue with physical property viewings, or only as a last resort, or not at all. Along with the latest Government guidance, The Guild of Property Professionals has also urged Agents to ensure that prospective buyers and tenants go through virtual viewing first and then, only if deemed necessary arrange a physical meeting and viewing.
Despite the pandemic dominating most of 2020, it ended up being one of the busiest years for the property industry, driven by a post lockdown surge in activity and the Governments stamp duty incentive. With hope of successful mass vaccination and a rising trend in people looking to move home, as a year of homeworking has led people to re-evaluate their housing needs, there is confidence across the industry that momentum will continue into 2021, albeit a possible slow start.
Last year, many Estate Agents fast adopted technology-led services to assist them in continuing business operations, that would otherwise have been interrupted or ineffective throughout the ups and downs of the pandemic. 2020 proved that there really is a place for PropTech within the industry, not only to protect business continuation during a ‘virus outbreak’, but also because of the efficiencies that come with proven technological solutions. One big game changer for many Agents last year was going digital on property viewings, whether that was through video or 3D virtual tours.
Award-winning Shropshire & Worcestershire Estate Agent Nock Deighton are advocates for virtual tours, considering them an essential part of everyday property marketing, especially during current times, where safely is paramount. Nock Deighton decided to team up with CoreLogic last year to use the HomeVisit Virtual Tour services. Michael Nettleton, Chairman of Nock Deighton commented ‘Stewart and the team have been brilliant partners for Nock Deighton. They have the drive to continually improve and raise standards in our industry. A genuine pleasure to work with’. Agents like Nock Deighton who recognise the benefits of technology, such as virtual tours and are willing to adapt to changing times, will certainly thrive in 2021, no matter what they are up against.
Virtual tour technology is not just useful during a pandemic when physical viewings are restricted, but a serious and effective marketing tool that all Agents should be adopting. Virtual Tours shouldn’t be seen as an expensive ‘nice to have’, the benefits for all parties significantly outweighs the cost.
Buyers can view properties with ease and quickly eliminate unsuitable contenders. The viewing experience is fully immersive where the buyer walks through the property as if they were there in person, with the ability to zoom in and out, access floor plans, dollhouse views and measuring tools.
Sellers receive better quality marketing of their property whilst minimising the inconvenience and disturbance caused, by restricting physical viewings to only those buyers who are really serious.
Virtual tours drive higher engagement and quicker sales, by attracting more fully informed remote viewings and potential buyers. They save considerable time, by not having to facilitate so many physical viewings and eliminating time wasters from the onset, leaving more time to focus on sales.
Although 2021 will undoubtedly be a challenging year for the property industry. Estate Agents who are prepared to adapt to make sure their business can continue to operate efficiently, even if branches are shut or physical viewings cannot take place, will get ahead.