Online Property Viewings: Are They Worth It?

The online property viewing or tour; a year ago, it was a luxury add-on that nobody really took any notice of.  One pandemic and three national lockdowns later, online viewings have become a trending marketing tool for many estate agents up and down the country.  But is it worth the time and investment?  Do buyers and tenants really take advantage of the online viewing?

Whether agents recorded a video of the entire property and added a voiceover, or used online tools such as Facetime and Zoom, it’s become a popular option.  However, after being hailed as ‘the new way to view properties and it was here to stay’, is it now on the decline?  Are buyers and tenants going back to the tried-and-tested method of finding a house with physical viewings, albeit with restrictions?

What is an online property viewing?

Firstly, let’s just clarify; an online property viewing is not a video tour.  Whilst similar, the fundamental difference is that with an online viewing, the agent is talking and walking you through the entire property, inside and outside, as if you were physically there.  A video tour is taking the best bits and putting them together as a video tour.

In the first lockdown in March 2020 and with stay-at-home measures implemented, online viewings became an important part of marketing a property.  Two of the biggest property portals, Rightmove and Zoopla, added the option for an online viewing.  It gave buyers and tenants the opportunity to ‘view’ a property through the eyes of the agent.  They were able to view every part of the property – the good, bad and ugly so to speak – as well as seeing the exterior and garden.

The advantages of online viewings

Without a doubt, there are advantages to an online viewing.

  • Avoids wasting time – tenants and buyers are able to view the property, assess whether it fits their criteria, before making a trip to view the property in person. Whilst for vendors and landlords this has reduced the number of viewings, it has the advantage for tenants and buyers in that time isn’t wasted in viewing properties that aren’t suitable.  For vendors and landlords, they know that if the viewer has already watched an online viewing, there is a good chance that they are seriously interested in their property.
  • Expands property reach – people move far greater distances these days. Being able to view a property online before making a long trip to view in person makes all the difference to buyers and tenants.  This is particularly relevant for people moving to the UK from abroad.  Being able to go  through an online viewing of potential properties before arriving in the country drastically reduces the problem of relying on someone else’s recommendations.  One other point to note is that for people who have limited mobility or health conditions that impede the opportunity to view in person, online viewings have opened up greater house moving opportunities.
  • Speeds up sales – eliminating the properties that don’t fit the criteria before you’ve stepped out the door significantly speeds up sales. For buyers and tenants, knowing that they’ve already ‘seen’ the property they are going to view at least once, the physical viewing becomes more of a ‘second’ viewing and reduces the time it takes to make a decision.

On the rise or dying a death?

On current evidence, the online viewing is here to stay, although there will be some who disagree.  There are too many benefits to online viewings that can’t be ignored.  Imagine being able to visualise where your furniture will go in your new home and the space available before you’ve left the comfort of your living room?

Due to the pandemic, more and more people trust what they see online and the same can be said for online property viewings.  As technology improves and online viewings become more than just a walk-through, i.e. ‘virtual staging’ where potential buyers can plan where their furniture will go and how their new home will look, the future looks bright for online viewings.

At Elizabeth Hunt & Associates, we are always available to answer anyone’s queries and provide professional advice.  We offer online viewings for all of our properties available for sale or rent.  Contact us on 01483 285255 or email elizabeth@elizabethhuntassociates.co.uk to book an online viewing of the property of your choice.