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Virtual viewings are here to stay. Agents have woken up to the fact that virtual viewings can help to filter their candidates and avoid wasting time on numerous physical viewings - a strong example of how agencies have demonstrated agility and pivoted to find a new solution to continue bringing value to landlords. Read more about taking your virtual viewings to the next level by downloading our free guide, How to maximise your agency's potential.1. Live stream your viewings
Many apps offer live video call functionality, which Andy McHugo, Associate Director at Birmingham-based James Laurence recommends, to offer tenants more variety in how they can view the property. "If applicants are further afield, we can do a WhatsApp video walkthrough or a FaceTime tour as well. This type of live video tour has probably proved to be the most successful for us, the ones in real time."
Alternatively, you can go through a professionally recorded video with your prospective tenants, answering any questions on the way, as is the case with Bidwells. "We hire a company to visit the property and shoot a video for us. We then send a link to anybody who's interested in doing a virtual viewing. If needed, we can share our screens and virtually walk any prospective tenant through the property," says Alex Bloxham, Partner and Head of Residential Lettings at Bidwells.
Catrina Merrigan, Founder of Cloverhill Properties, has found that it's important to have a voice behind the camera, if you pre-record a video to share directly, so you can still replicate the experience of an in-person viewing. “You'll find some agents are walking around the property in the video, but there is no communication. There's no face behind the camera. Tenants give feedback that it's lovely to see a person and to hear a voice.”
Some properties may not be accessible to create the virtual viewings, especially in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or if a current tenant is self-isolating. This is where the current occupant can help out. "Some tenants have kindly shot a mini video for us on any occupied properties that we haven’t been able to access and we've sent those on to a prospective applicant," says Bloxham. "It's been well received and we've let properties off the back of those too."
You can of course choose to email the video, or share it on your site. But why not use some different methods, to reach a wider audience and generate some extra interest in a property? "Our Marketing Manager's just putting up a snippet on Instagram, saying to contact us - and people are really coming back to us," says Lucy Hobson, Assistant Account Manager at Thornley Groves.
If you know that that your agency plans to continue virtual viewings using mobile phones to capture the video, why not invest in the right technology to support this decision? Thornley Groves recognised that virtual viewings were here to stay and so the agency upgraded all the mobiles of the staff filming the viewings, to get the best possible quality, says Hobson.
Other technologies have been booming this year, with Matterport seeing a 630% increase in 3D camera sales in the first month of lockdown. A 3D or 360 degree viewing platform can help tenants put themselves in the space and gain more of an understanding of dimensions, without having to physically visit it. Using this type of technology or professional service can mean that your agency has a point of differentiation, to help it attract new landlords.
“In lettings, we're one of the only companies in Sussex to offer virtual property tours on every property as part of our standard offering,” says Mark Howell, Group Operations Manager at Michael Jones & Company. “I believe most agents charge for that service, whereas we provide the 3D tours for free, as our focus is to offer a great customer experience, offering as much detail and help as possible.”
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Oh Goodlord Limited is an Appointed Representative of Goodlord Protect Limited for general insurance products and credit broking. Goodlord Protect Limited is directly authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, registration number 836727. You can check this information on the Financial Services Register by visiting www.fca.org.uk/register or by telephoning 0800 111 6768 (Freephone) or 0300 500 8082 from the UK. The FCA is the independent watchdog that regulates financial services.