This article was originally published on 15 June 2020. Although we endeavour to keep our coronavirus (COVID-19) content as up to date as possible, the situation is rapidly changing, so please ensure you refer to gov.uk for the latest advice and information.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many letting agents into a virtual setting - in a sector that’s sometimes been hesitant to adopt new technology. Sure Property Group is one such agency. Having recently gone through a self-imposed period of change, with a rebranding to align themselves with a more cloud-based approach, it was prepared to act quickly in the face of this new challenge.
Sure Property Group set up all virtual viewings even before the lockdown came into force - a decision which has proven fruitful. “Before this all locked down on that Monday evening, we were proactive,” says Robert Buckley, Director at the Gloucester-based branch of the agency. “We got out and conducted video tours of all our properties. Now, when we receive a request, we can send out a link to the video as opposed to actually having someone visit the property - and we've had success with that. Last week, we let four properties via these videos.”
Lacking the time to set up virtual software, mobile phones have come into their own. “It wasn't too hard to take videos on our smartphones and then send them out by smartphone. So it didn't take a lot to adapt to create them,” says Buckley. “The time-consuming part was getting around all of the properties. But, because we’ve put in that time, it's enabled us to continue our business. It's been invaluable in securing the properties - or they would likely have stayed on the market until this situation was over.”
Looking to the future, Sure Property Group will continue with a virtual approach. “The virtual tours are something that can continue afterwards,” says Buckley. ”We've had situations in the past where the people are relocating to Gloucester so aren’t local. Popping out on their lunch break to do a viewing isn't easy if they're based in London or further afield.
“So, I definitely think that sort of a process could be implemented a lot better in our day to day business, even now we're all fully functioning and able to meet people in person.”
There are also new virtual avenues that Sure Property Group aims to explore. “To push the business forward, we’re in conversations with some local media companies as to whether we can push out virtual valuations, where a vendor or landlord can submit the information and photographs via an online tool to enable us to value that property remotely,” says Buckley.
“Even in a situation where we're past the lockdown period, that could be a tool that landlords find useful to do in the evenings in their spare time or if they’re busy with work - and enable us to increase our business levels as well.”
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