Are Virtual Property Tours The Future Of Viewings?

Written by Myles Hemingway

Myles is our self-confessed ‘word nerd’ and property geek. You’ll find him mythbusting everything from mortgages to maisonettes, as well as giving you our spin on the latest property news and industry trends.

Will virtual property tours help me sell my house?

Virtual property tours make viewing properties 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, virtual property tours helped sellers retain interest in the market by giving buyers the freedom to view properties at their leisure, without the risk of contamination. A handy asset for both buyers and sellers alike, which you’ll be pleased to hear remains a popular form of property marketing, even as lockdown eases.

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 the next big thing? Read on to find out…

FYI this article is quite long, so if you’re after something specific on virtual property tours, use the menu below to find the information you need fast…

Why are property viewings SO 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 we all know are the secret ingredient to any property sale. Get multiple of these and you could sell your house fast and be looking at some generous offers. Even if they are based just on virtual property tours and not a face-to-face viewing.

So, what does virtual tour mean?

In short, virtual tours are an electronic simulation of a certain location, which can be interacted with by a user. The concept of the virtual tour has been around since the mid-1990s, but has only recently seen a spike in popularity since growth in online sales and the software surrounding virtual reality. On the face of it then, a pretty innovative idea, especially for something as straight laced as the property industry!

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Okay, so what are virtual property tours?

Virtual property tours are simulations of your house, marketed to you (the seller) as a custom made form of advertising to help buyers get a better acquainted with the size, scale and usability of your home. You could see them as an accompaniment to traditional property photography.

The best type of virtual property tour for you purely depends on your property and your circumstances. Check out the various types of virtual property tours currently available, below…

    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.

    The animated simulation includes items such as virtual chairs, tables and various other items of furniture that are set out in relation to your property photography, to give buyers a greater understanding of how functional and liveable a space truly is. Being a floorplan, it will also come with measurements, which is another handy tool for buyers.

    Best use: Virtual floorplans work well for sellers looking to accentuate their square footage or showcase a unique build. Less so aesthetics such as interior design. It can also prove useful when selling large developments of a similar size, for instance student flats or new builds.

    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 reasonably quick, and thanks to technology such as to 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 location 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 is 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 one of these. Interactive tours come far closer to simulating a real life viewing compared to any other form of tour in this list, by giving buyers a 360 panoramic view of both inside and outside your house.

    As the name suggests, interactive tours mean buyers can sample pretty much everything your house has to offer behind the comfort of their computer. They can confidently assess whether their furniture will fit, take in the view outside your front window and even take a stroll through the back garden, so as a sales tool they really can work.

    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 it comes at a cost. Agents we found charged anywhere upwards of £250 for this service.

    Saying that, don’t write them off just yet. Sample an interactive property tour for yourself

How can virtual property tours help you?

Before making a firm decision as to whether or not a virtual property tour would be a wise idea when marketing your property, be sure to consider the points below…

    Minimise timewasters – 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 time prepping the house for their viewing (urgh). But that’s not say it’s anything a virtual property tour can’t sort. In fact, enhancing your listing with a virtual property tour could weed out this breed of buyer altogether. And here’s why.

    Buyers like these typically 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. Many of which a well produced virtual tour could help them answer.

    Then again, you could just skip the virtual tour and sell your property direct to us

    Get In Touch

    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 to at 3am for a makeshift video viewing with a relative any day.

    Speed things up – Time is precious, particularly when selling a property. The longer your house sits on the open market, the more odd questions, funny stares and cheeky offers will start coming your way.

    As we’ve seen recently in parts of Wales, buyers are offering without even having a viewing because demand is that high. According to property experts, virtual property tours played a large part in this surge.

    Read more about the recent influx of buyers moving to Wales here

    Build Trust - From a buyer’s perspective, virtual property tours clearly show your confidence as a seller. Opening up your house to everyone on a property portal (Rightmove, On The Market etc.) takes guts, and is a simple way to demonstrate that you’re not trying to mask anything about your property. A trait that goes a long way when looking to build strong relationships with your buyers. In turn, this could lead to a stronger offer and makes it a lot harder for them to instigate a chain break if things turn sour.

    Reduce spontaneity – If used correctly, virtual property tours can make a face-to-face viewing far more useful and increase the likelihood of an offer. You see, if buyers come to view in person and know what to expect, they spend less time questioning you and more time getting to know you as a seller, and building that valuable rapport!

But, are virtual property tours worth it?

If you ask us, in most cases virtual property tours are worth the investment if you choose to sell through the open market, especially in the current climate.

It’s reassuring to know as a seller that potential buyers still have the ability to view your property even in the event of a second lockdown. Plus, you’ll have a lot less bother during the sales process. Equally, the fact a tour distinguishes your property from others of a similar price and size is also an encouraging thought.

So, 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 tours 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

    • Ease of parking (if on street)

    • Mortgageablity - it's hard to judge if the condition may affect your ability to get a mortgage.

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    • Your position - knowing how motivated you are is something most buyers want to know.

Alternatives to the open market

If you’re not sold on the idea of marketing your property with a virtual tour on the open market, don’t worry, there are other ways…

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 aunction 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 loose a substantial chunk of equity just because of an exuberant marketing ploy!

Talk to us - As a trusted cash buyer of property accross 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 have a fast house sale with minimal fuss. We can have you exchanged and competed 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 exepnses!

Discover how we can help you escape the wait on the open market and get an offer accepted today. Reach out for one of our team for further details.

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