Virtual property viewings are not a new invention. They have been growing in popularity for years. But COVID-19 and the ensuing restrictions on people’s movements have led to soaring demand for this service. At a time when health concerns are paramount, many house buyers and sellers are keen to conduct viewings without the risks associated with indoor meetings.
Restrictions are being eased, but life is unlikely to return to “normal” any time soon, and a healthy number of your clients will continue to expect this service long after the coronavirus has dwindled — for example, people moving great distances and those individuals with disabilities or health issues that make travelling to an unfamiliar home problematic.
Demand for properties has not diminished during the pandemic, quite the opposite, and demand continues to outstrip supply. Estate agents need to master the art of hosting professional house viewings that convert into sales if they want to succeed in the short and long term.
- Manage Expectations. Many buyers use virtual property viewings as a stepping stone to booking an in-person viewing. If a virtual viewing does not immediately lead to an offer, don’t brand it a failure.
Virtual tours can save you and your client considerable time and inconvenience. Only those who are really interested in making an offer will go on to book a physical viewing. Make sure your clients understand this too — virtual viewings can help them secure high-quality buyers, not browsers.
- Invest in Advanced Technology. Every estate agent understands the value of professional photography when it comes to marketing a property. Virtual viewings are no different.
Service providers such as Giraffe360 allow estate agents to generate professional standard floor plans, photographs and virtual tours automatically within 24 hours of a visit to their client’s property. Investing in advanced technology like this will save time and help your agency to attract new customers by providing better value and an enhanced experience for the buyer and the seller.
- Get Your Customer on Board. The best virtual viewings need the customer’s cooperation. How can you create a professional recording or deliver a live viewing to be proud of if they’ve failed to tidy away clutter, light the home well and make sure children and pets are out of the way?
Developing a rapport with the customer is key to property sale success and this extends to virtual tours. Consider creating an information sheet that helps the client prepare ahead of the viewing or recording and be willing to explain why these steps are important.
- Script It Right. The secret to a great video tour is to plan your script carefully. How long will it take to film each room? Are there particular features you want to highlight?
There may be important information that could sway a buyer into making an offer or booking a physical viewing that is not immediately obvious from the footage alone. If so, allow plenty of time to include this detail in your audio commentary. For example, the apparently small box room that is currently used for storage was previously a home office and has a multitude of power points, great lighting and an ethernet connection.
- Offer Next Steps. If you’re hosting a live viewing, allow some time to explain potential next steps for the buyer. These could include booking a second online viewing, reviewing a recording of the viewing, scheduling an in-person visit to the property or arranging a call with you, the agent, to discuss the property. For recorded property viewings, this information can be provided on-screen or below the video at the end of the tour.
This may sound like a bit of a no-brainer, but virtual tours are still a new experience for many people and by clearly outlining the possibilities for exploring the property further, you will reduce the chance of the buyer disappearing when the viewing ends. Keeping the conversation going will allow you to answer questions and allay any concerns.
The Power of Virtual House Viewings
If you’re still unsure about whether virtual house viewings are worth investing in, consider the following:
- The number of property sale adverts on Rightmove with virtual tours increased by 77% between mid-November 2019 and mid-May 2020. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, virtual tours are a must.
- According to professional property photography provider, FocalAgent, 73% of vendors prefer to work with an estate agent that offers video marketing, and 83% of property businesses say that video has helped them to obtain more leads.
- Estate agents have reported between 30% and 70% fewer wasted viewings due to video tours, which allow people to vet properties before booking a physical viewing.
- Recent research has found that when a property listing includes a video tour, 60% of visitors click to view it.
Investing in high-quality virtual house viewings is fundamental to your success as an estate agent, both now and in the future. Take the time to perfect the art and it will pay dividends in the long run.