Virtual Home Viewings

Part 1 – Types, Tips, Pros & Cons

Before I start, a confession – I have always recorded (unless vehemently rejected by an estate agent) all house viewings I have attended. Pheewww.

Most vendors and estate agents are quite comfortable with it. I do this because, I honestly cannot be seen making another journey to a property until it is absolutely necessary to do so and would only return, if I notice a structural issue on viewing the video OR if I want to check what my spirit says about the house the first time.

It is April 2020, and for almost 7 weeks now, there is a worldwide pandemic. Anyone in the home buying process, would have noticed due to the Lockdown, there is now an increased acceptance and use of online home viewing tools by Estate Agents.

Basically, an online or virtual viewing provides an opportunity for you to view the property without being physically present.

VIRTUAL HOME VIEWING OPTIONS

A few options available for online viewings are:

  1. Video call
    • With the vendor if they are willing to
    • Pre-recorded video by the Agent
  2. A 3D/4D representation of the house
  3. A 4D or animated walkthrough usually produced to give a similar experience to a video call but limited; you cannot prescribe to view particular areas which are not shown in the footage. They however usually cover ceilings etc.
  4. Slide shows 😦

Option 2 and 3 are usually produced either from a point cloud or 3d survey.

TypeProsCons
Video – live call with vendor/agentsIf this is done with the seller, a buyer can ask questions directly to the vendor.

Ability to request for specific areas to be seen. E.g. ceilings (for leaks and cracks), fuse board types, roof gutters etc which are usually not visible in pictures.

If given permission to screen record, you can always go back to it for reference.
None noted except if you are not comfortable showing your face as the call will always start with a face to face pleasantry/greeting.

If undertaken with the agent see below regarding responses to questions.

If not allowed to screen record, then no option to go back for reference.
Video – pre-recordedSame advantages as live call above

Usually available via link – you can always go back and refer to it if still available.
Very likely you will be unable to view fuse-boards, ceilings and roof gutters etc.

Also inability to ask questions should you note anything of concern.
3D/4D RepresentationProvides a spatial layout of the house and rooms giving a better representation than normal pictures and 2D floor plans

Usually available via link – you can always go back and refer to it if still available.
Not a live presentation hence difficult to envisage feel or layout

Very likely you will be unable to view fuse-boards, ceilings and roof gutters etc.

Also inability to ask questions should you note anything of concern.
Animated WalkthroughSimilar advantages to the live video call

Usually available via link – you can always go back and refer to it if still available.
Very likely you will be unable to view fuse-boards, ceilings and roof gutters etc.

Also inability to ask questions should you note anything of concern.
Slide showsCreated from the estate agents photos – totally uselessCreated from the estate agents photos – totally useless
Virtual Viewing Options – Pros and Cons

I have tried all 3 options and would recommend, requesting for Option 1a from the agent, if the vendor is comfortable doing so. This also, helps you establish a rapport with the vendor and raise any concerns you may have directly. I would encourage that you still maintain a professional attitude and follow-up any discussions with the vendor via email keeping the agent copied in on all correspondence.

– Me @prauslife

Option 2 and 3 works for me. I use similar systems in my line of employment so quite familiar. The only issue is the vendor was not available to answer questions hence had to wait for the agent to get back to me. Also, not all areas of the house were properly scanned to be included in the animation.

TIPS FOR VIRTUAL HOME VIEWINGS.

A few tips when arranging an online/virtual viewing:

  1. Know what you are looking for – Review the available online photos & floor plan to update the viewing questionnaire (i.e. produce your own viewing questionnaire) for use during the viewing.
  2. Arrange and confirm phone numbers or email addresses at least an hour before the agreed time slot. Ensure you have enough battery power.
  3. This usually takes more than 15mins, therefore, schedule a time that works for you and the other party, so you are not disturbed.
  4. With permission from vendor, screen record the viewing, so you can go back for reference.
  5. For animated walkthrough videos, if you are not familiar with the system and you are sent a link by the estate agent, I highly recommend that you ask the agent to walk and talk you through it whilst managing the system.
  6. Follow up video call with feedback and any questions to vendor keeping agent copied in all correspondence.

PROS AND CONS OF VIRTUAL VIEWINGS

Online and virtual viewings are quite beneficial. Wondered why no one ever thought of it. I think in the future, this may have benefits including but not limited to:

  1. Efficient time management for both vendors, buyers and estate agents
  2. No need to travel if you don’t have to
  3. You are likely to get more time than the 15mins usually allocated to in-house viewings by estate agents.
  4. Option 1 – vendor will usually be available to answer question and take their time
  5. Option 2 & 3 – u can always go back to the link and view the house again.
  6. A walkthrough feel proving layout better for those who cannot visualise this using pictures and floor plans
  7. A safer way of undertaking house viewings if you are concerned about being in a home alone with a vendor 😊

That said, it is important that you visit the property when you are able to. Know what the neighbourhood is like.

If you are particularly interested in the property and quite satisfied with the outcome of the virtual/online viewings, you can then put in an offer SUBJECT TO SURVEY. Note: always advisable to conduct a survey of a property before purchase.

So now that we have spoken about types, tips, pros and cons of each option and what to look out for, my next post will be a name and shame of some of the estate agents who are providing abysmal virtual viewing services for vendors (their clients) and buyers.

All the best and enjoy viewing (your potential new home) in the comfort of your current home whilst in lockdown.


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