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When selling a property, virtual tours are the way to go... right?

Virtual property viewings (otherwise known as Proptech) make getting a feel for a property easier than ever before, and have been a lifeline for sellers during the coronavirus pandemic.

As viewings across the country came to a standstill in March, for practically all sellers of property, virtual tours did their job. They kept the market ticking and interest buoyant by giving buyers the freedom to view properties at their leisure, without the risk of contamination. A handy asset which you’ll be pleased to hear remains a popular form of property marketing, even after the third (and hopefully final) Lockdown has been eased.

So yes, this means that frantically puffing up cushions, carefully positioning bowls of fruit that you’ll never actually consume and treating the hoover to a fresh bag, just to ensure that even the eagle eyed buyers aren’t put off by our somewhat ‘scattered’ way of living, could all be a thing of the past. Question is though, are virtual property tours just a fad or is proptech the next BIG thing? Read on to find out…

As simple as they may seem, there's actually quite a lot to virtual property viewings.

If you're after something specific about the rise of Proptech, use the menu below...
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Why are property viewings important?

Property viewings are a pivotal part of a buyer’s housing search, as they’re often the first time they view a property through their own eyes, and not through the enhanced wide angle lens of the sales literature. 

A special but nevertheless stressful experience for some buyers, especially those who are not yet on the property ladder. So it’s no surprise that property viewings are when buyers can be their most judgemental.

Successful viewings create committed buyers, which (as we all know) are the secret ingredient to any property sale. Get multiple of these and you could sell your house fast and have some generous offers coming your way. Even if they are based just on a proptech viewing and not one in the flesh.

What does virtual tour mean? Is proptech any different?

Virtual tours are much like they sound - an electronic simulation which a user is free to interact with. In this case, your property. 

The concept of the virtual tour has been around since the mid-1990s, but has only recently seen a spike in popularity. Most likely due to the growth in online sales and the BOOM of virtual reality. On the face of it then, it's actually a pretty innovative idea, especially for something as straight laced as the property industry!

What are virtual property tours? (The 3 main types of Proptech)

Virtual property tours are simulations of your house, marketed to you (the seller) as a custom made form of advertising to help buyers get an initial feel of your home. 

You could see them as an accompaniment to traditional property photography, that almost puts the photos into perspective. However, that's not to say that in property, virtual tours just come in one form.

In fact, there's many, so being well acquainted with all their pros and cons, as well as their best use is essential before reaching for your wallet. So to make sure you get the best out of Proptech, here's all the variants that we're currently aware of…

Virtual floorplans

Let’s start with the simplest first. Virtual floorplans deliver a three dimensional top down overview of your property that buyers can view floor by floor. This includes cellars and attic conversions.

Being an animated simulation, virtual floorplans include virtual chairs, tables and various other items of furniture that bear some relation to your property photography. 

An easy way to give buyers an ideal of how functional the space is. Plus, because it's a floorplan it'll come with measurements too - yet another handy tool to help buyers gauge whether your home is the perfect fit.

Best use: Virtual floorplans work well for sellers looking to accentuate their square footage or showcase a particularly unique build. Just less so aesthetics such as interior design. 

They can also be useful when selling large developments that are all of a similar size. Newbuilds for instance, or a block of identical student flats.

Professional Video

This one may require a bit of staging on your part, however video tours can prove useful when it comes to attracting buyers, particularly when showing off a property’s quirks and features.

Video also offers you as a seller a good level of control over what a buyer sees. So, for instance, if you’d rather them not inspect the peeling Anaglypta on the ceiling and instead be wowed by your 18th century period fireplace, you can make sure that’s the case. 

However, it’s worth noting that doing so could come back and haunt you. If a buyer attends a face-to-face viewing with high expectations and those aren’t met, this could result in a low offer and you being labelled a ‘dodgy’ seller. Not ideal!

But providing you don’t earn yourself such a rep, video tours are a great way to give buyers that ‘inside access’ they’re after and are a great addition to property photographs.

When it comes to filming, the process is reasonably quick, and thanks to technology such as gimbal stabilisation, professional too! 

A typical video tour can take around 1-2 hours to film, depending on size and location. Properties set in rural locations or with a particularly large plot may also benefit from some aerial shots taken using a drone.

Best use: Virtual property tours made using video are a great option for the majority of sellers, be it a period property or a fully furnished new build. 

The only instance where we wouldn’t suggest video is with properties that require substantial amounts of work – any serious buyer for them will likely want to check out this person.

Interactive virtual tour

If you’re alright with buyers having a nosey through your house at their leisure, then you may want to check out this avenue of Proptech. 

Interactive tours come far closer to simulating a real life viewing compared to any other form of property tour on this list. They do so by giving buyers a 360 panoramic view of both inside your house, and outside too.

Think of them as like a miniature video game, which allows them to sample pretty much everything your house has to offer. In the few clicks of a button, buyers can assess whether their furniture will fit, take in the view outside your front window and even take a stroll through the back garden. 

Obviously it will depend on the house you're selling as to whether going full-on virtual is a wise idea, but that being said, if your house speaks for itself, then it can be a great way to entice buyers into submitting offers.

Tours like these rely on digital SLR cameras and specialised software to stitch each panoramic photo together – nothing a property photographer can’t sort. However that does mean all this Proptech comes at a cost. Agents we found charged anywhere upwards of £250!

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How are virtual tours useful in property?

With Proptech being for the most part a big investment, being clued-up on how it stack up as an investment is only wise. Marketing your property with no strategy is as much use as crossing your fingers. 

So to help you fathom why in property, virtual viewings are such a hit, here's just a couple of their benefits…

Minimise time wasters – With property viewings, buyers can go one of two ways. They can increase their interest because the property meets or surpasses their expectations. 

Or, they can turn off within a couple of minutes and leave within the space of five - a frustrating outcome, especially when you’ve spent countless hours prepping the house (urgh). But that’s not to say it’s anything a virtual property tour can’t sort. 

In fact, enhancing your listing with a Proptech could weed out this breed of buyer altogether.
You see, buyers like this usually have very particular needs - i.e. an aspect of your home they need to assess for themselves. 

This could be something as simple as making sure your garage will fit a classic car or as complex as whether your spare room has the right atmosphere for a reading nook. So by equipping your listing with a virtual tour, you're letting them assess that without any inconvenience to you. All of which saves you time and effort in the long run!

Expand your reach

Thanks to the internet and virtual property tours, buyers are choosing to offer without even viewing a property in person – a common instance of this is when they’re living abroad. 

So as you can imagine, listing a property without a virtual tour can put you at a significant disadvantage, especially when you consider the difference in time zones. Navigating a virtual property tour at your own convenience across the globe beats getting up at 3am for a makeshift video viewing with a relative any day.

Speed things up

Time is precious when selling a property, so if through Proptech you can get more buyers taking an interest in your house, the quicker it should sell. Fact remains that the longer a house is sat on the open market, the more it raises a buyer's eyebrows. 

Why hasn't it sold fast? Is it unmortgageable? Perhaps the sellers are asking too much? All questions that will have funny stares and cheeky offers coming your way. Something a virtual property viewing could help to dilute.
As we’ve seen with the influx of people moving to Wales, buyers are perfectly willing to offer based on virtual property tours alone! A new way around the surge of demand.

Build Trust

From a buyer’s perspective, virtual property viewings clearly broadcast your confidence as a seller. Opening up your house to everyone on a property portal (Rightmove, On The Market etc.) takes guts, and is basically the equivalent of saying "I've got nothing to hide". 

All of which helps you build trust with buyers, which as we all know, is the foundation of a strong relationship. The ideal seeds to sew if you're on the hunt for stronger offers and a more committed pool of buyers.

Reduce spontaneity

Yet another perk of virtual property viewings which is commonly overlooked. 

You see, if used correctly, virtual property tours can make face-to-face viewings far more useful from a buyers perspective. In the end, the more familiar they are with what they're expecting, the less daunting (i.e. more pleasant) a viewing becomes. 

What's more, it's likely that because of which they'll spend more time getting to know you (the seller) and less time absorbing their surroundings. And as we all know, without rapport selling a house is a VERY tricky task!

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Are virtual property viewings worth it?

If you ask us, virtual property viewings are worth the investment if you choose to sell through the open market, especially now when the thought of Covid is still fresh in a buyer's mind.

Yes, restrictions around Lockdown are gradually being loosened, but there's no getting around the fact that lockdown itself has caused our dependence on technology to advance - some estimates suggest by as much as 7 years

So, if you ask us, it's only natural that virtual property viewings will to some extent follow suit. We'd even be tempted to go as far as to say that they're the new norm - something a buyer now expects when shopping for property opposed to an added perk.

But saying that, whether they're worth it or not purely depends on what type of house you have for sale. For those selling an investment property that's in need of renovation, virtual property viewings aren't likely to be all that viable. 

If anything, they're just going to take a bite out of your profits and show off issues that you perhaps don't want buyers to see.

However, if you're selling what could be classed as a 'forever property', virtual viewings could actually be quite a nifty idea. 

Not only a way to weed out genuine buyers from the open market, but also as a trust-builder, helping you to forge a more meaningful relationship with that buyer. All of which should work to prevent your house sale falling through later down the line.

Virtual viewings: are they the future?

Virtual property tours certainly help reduce unnecessary viewings and give the buyer a better experience (there’s no doubt about that), but whether they’re the future is debatable.

Personally, we’re not so sure, as even though many buyers are basing their offers on virtual viewings alone, there’s still a whole host of advantages to a face-to face viewing that buyers can't gauge through a virtual tour, for instance…

  • Road noise - High levels of this could be a black mark for some buyers.

  • Ease of parking - on street parking isn't to everyone's liking, especially those with classic marques.

  • Mortgageability - Virtual viewings don't really allow buyers to give a property a thorough-enough assessment. Mortgage issues are far easier to spot in person.

  • Your position - Talking to you and getting to know more about your position is something most buyers will want to know.

Alternatives of using proptech to sell your house

Using virtual viewings to sell a property isn't to everyone's taste. For some it's simply an extra cost and to others it poses a security risk. So if you're not sold on the idea of marketing your property with a virtual tour, then don't worry. 

There's plenty of alternatives for you to choose from! Here's just a few…

Go to auction

If you’re looking to sell your house quickly, auctions may be a good option for you. As soon as the hammer goes down, your buyer has to give you a 10% deposit and has just a month to give you the remaining 90%. 

Sounds ideal, only it's worth watching out for the auction fees. These are typically around 2.5% of the sale price but can be even more, so watch out! 

When you consider that some agent fees are just above 1% (some even go lower if you haggle) unless your property is low value and you don't mind taking a hit on the price, auction is probably not the best route for you.

Part Exchange

If you’re looking to move to a new build, this could be a viable strategy for you. Check with your developer to see what they offer. 

Taylor Wimpey for instance, says: "We'll buy your existing property from you, at a price we agree with you based on two independent valuations." Yet many customers report getting prices back substantially below market value, so it's worth doing your research. You don't want to lose a substantial chunk of equity just because of an exuberant marketing ploy!

Talk to us

As a trusted cash buyer of property across England and Northern Ireland, we know you've got far more important things to be doing than stressing over how to market your property, especially with the housing market looking so unstable.

Exactly why we pride ourselves in giving you a fast house sale with minimal fuss. 

We can have you exchanged and completed in as little as 7 days if need be and, unlike the methods mentioned above, we'll also pay for your legal fees and surveys, among other expenses too!

Discover how we can help you escape the wait on the open market and get an offer accepted today.

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Joe McCorry

Joe is our SEO Specialist that helps produce and develop content. He enjoys finding out about all the new property trends and learning about the property market.