Technological innovation has become increasingly influential on our lives. As time goes by, we are using mobile devices and other technology to help us carry out more daily tasks and activities than ever before.
When it comes to property, there are many ways in which technology helps consumers to buy, sell, let or rent homes. The most common and obvious is the use of property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla which have become the most established means of advertising or searching for available properties.
There are a range of other innovations that have become increasingly popular, from repairs reporting apps to digital booking systems - all designed to make life easier for everyone involved in the transaction.
Another technological development that has been making ground in recent years is virtual viewings. But how do they work and how could they help letting agents?
How do virtual viewings work?
The most common way to carry out virtual viewings is using scanning and 360 degree image capturing equipment to take stock of the property in question. These images and content are then stitched together to create a video tour which allows interested parties to view the property from anywhere in the world.
Virtual viewings can be carried out on mobile devices or web browsers. However, the most effective is via a virtual reality headset, which provides a fully immersive experience.
There are a range of specialist providers who offer this technology and they provide different levels and depths of virtual tour from basic image tours to 3D walkthroughs and fully immersive video tours. It’s important to think about which type of tour would best suit your typical client and go from there.
Why are virtual viewings useful for tenants?
The rental market moves extremely quickly these days and tenants need to make sure they give themselves the best possible opportunity to secure their favoured property.
Virtual viewings can help with this as they can be carried out at anytime, anywhere. This means a prospective tenant can get a feel for a property and put in an offer instead of waiting until they can view it in person – by which time they may have missed out.
What's more, for some prospective tenants it can be difficult to whittle down their shortlist of potential properties. Virtual viewings could help renters to decide which two or three properties they'd like to view in person.
On top of this, virtual viewings are ideal for overseas tenants who won't be able to physically view a property before moving to the UK.
In what ways could virtual viewings impress landlords?
As a letting agent, you’ll always be looking for new ways to impress landlords and build your client base. Virtual viewings can help you to do this for a variety of reasons.
Offering virtual viewings shows landlords that your agency is tech-savvy and keen to embrace the latest innovations. It also shows that you’re willing to invest in marketing and are actively trying to engage with the modern property consumer by offering them an alternative way to view a property.
As well as all the marketing benefits, virtual viewing technology can also be very useful for landlords who don’t live near their rental properties. For example, agents can use the technology to help landlords carry out mid-term inspections without having to travel a long distance.
If you offer virtual viewing technology, you will want to make the most out of your investment, so it's hugely important that you communicate all of its benefits to your clients and prospective customers.
What are the potential downsides of this technology?
The most common criticism of virtual viewing technology is that it neglects the human side of the property transaction and overlooks the value of seeing a home in person. As mentioned above, however, virtual viewings can be used as a precursor to physical viewings or by prospective renters who have no other way of viewing the property.
While it is getting cheaper all the time, adopting virtual viewing technology can still be relatively expensive. You'll therefore need to decide which level of service you require and whether enough of your applicants will want to carry out virtual viewings. What's more, you'll need to shop around the various suppliers to determine which package is the best fit for your agency.
There'll never be a day when physical viewings don't exist, but the rise of virtual viewing technology is there for all to see. If used effectively, this service could help to make your brand stand out from the crowd, assist tenants in finding the right property and impress landlords to win you new business.