As COVID-19 looks set to change our lives for the near future, industries are adapting, and virtual property viewings are leading the way in real estate and home buying. Impacting both the rental and housing market, but more the latter, sellers are turning to modern technology, so life carries on in a world where social distancing is the new norm.
There is a saying in the business world that disasters always present opportunities. For makers of virtual technology viewings, their businesses look set to enjoy a fruitful time. Agents in massive real estate markets like London are reporting more interest in viewings, as buyers and renters find themselves unable to visit in person.
Marketing their products like virtual reality, anybody performing a property search can view potential homes from their armchair. The technology would never replace the "see and feel it" human experience, but even when life returns to normal, virtual viewings look set to stay as they save both buyers and sellers time.
Many agents also say in the world of property investments, where people purchase buy-to-let and new homes for capital gains, rather than lifestyle needs, offers have peaked because they can boost their investment property portfolio at the touch of a button. Hence this technology has massive potential, especially for investors buying homes in more than one country, and those tapping into Golden visa schemes and citizenship rights.
Virtual property viewings rely on 3D images, also called three dimensions. They can observe 360 degrees into any room of a house for sale, so it feels like they are standing there in actual life. All this is done via mobile phone or computers.
As well as placing the viewer in a room, the technology also creates floor-plans and a scale model; hence the viewer will see the overall home and look at it as if it was a dolls house. If requested, the real estate agent can also talk the viewer through each room, in case they have questions to ask, and to present local knowledge and the personal touch.
One significant benefit for any estate agency, seller and buyer is time. Showing ten people around residential properties takes up hours, and not all will be recouped in money. Investing in one virtual viewing matches buyers and seller in half the time. In the USA where viewing an open house with no obligation is a common theme; this also weeds out serious buyers from the weekend browsers.
Using technology, virtual viewing firms scan a room and stitch together images for a fixed fee. Once complete, which is a 2 to 3-day turnaround, they upload it to a portal which the seller will then give details of, to potential viewers. The viewer, when logged on, can exit rooms, scan in for more detail and see the overall scale model house. Any homebuyer with 3D headsets will also receive an enhanced experience. Some agents also combine the 3D viewing with drone photos of the garden, parking spaces and terraces area so they can tap into the kerb appeal.
Any proprietor or seller thinking about investing in virtual viewings can take specific steps to maximise the impact. It is the same advice real estate agents give to sellers for viewing in person. De-personalise your home to help the viewer imagine the property as if it was their own.
Complete all maintenance jobs, even the small ones, because virtual technology picks up the most minute of details. Cleanliness is also a must, and in the cases of neglected properties for sale, it is worth getting a cleaning crew in for a deep clean. While cameras scan rooms, all people should leave to maximise the viewer's experience.
Virtual viewings cannot replace location knowledge, and homebuyers will still need to do their research for that aspect. Still, the technology helps them to weed out which properties suit their lifestyle needs the best.
The biggest take away from the rise in virtual viewings is that they are here to stay even when governments relax social distancing rules so visiting in person can resume. The reason being, is they are a vast improvement on the current industry trend, which is to display listings with professional photos.
Virtual viewings show far better attention to details than pictures ever could. The future will see both images and virtual viewings used, but the latter by far trumps the first in terms of quality, user experience, and selling time.
With major real estate market portals like Zoopla and Right Move now displaying virtual property listings, it is proof estate agencies believe they are the future of the real estate industry. The same portals say featured properties with this function receive more interest.
In current times, where doom and gloom dominate the news headlines, the home buying industry has adapted to one of the biggest threats to worldwide economies. Providing flexibility, professionalism, and convenience, real estate professionals, believe selling your home via online shopping is now an actual thing.
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