Estate agents across the UK are offering virtual viewings for properties for sale and for rent. There were several agents who were already doing this before the Covid-19 outbreak but nearly almost all agents are onboard and have decent walk-through videos to share of properties that they have on the market.
The housing market remains open and in-person viewings are still permitted across the UK, but Government advice on home moving in England states: ‘Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever possible.’ Unable to show people properties for various reasons and unable to show as many people around in the same period of time, agents have been innovative and have been adapting to the “new normal”.
It’s pretty cool to be able to look inside a property anywhere in the UK from the comfort of your own home via your phone, laptop or tablet. For property investors who might live many miles from their investment area, these viewings have proven to be invaluable. Virtual viewings mean you can view and offer on a property, without making the long journey.
Like all things, virtual viewings have their pros and cons. It is important to be mindful that you don’t get a full and final picture of the true state of the house just from a video. It is important to still ask plenty of questions. Once you have looked at the video and any additional images and floorplans, make sure you ask the agent some of these questions as well to ensure you have as much information as possible about the property:
· Why are the owners selling the property?
· Has the owner passed away or is there an issue with the house?
· How long have the owners lived there?
· How old is the property?
· How long has it been vacant for?
· How long has the property been on the market?
· What are the current offers?
· Has a sale been agreed before and fell through and if yes, then why?
· What is the road and area like?
· What type of tenant would we expect to see in a house like this in this location? (for rental)
· Is it leasehold or freehold?
· Is there anything else I need to know?
While you haven’t viewed it in person, you can still get a great idea of the state of the property, the size and how much work might be required to get it up to scratch.
· The age of the kitchen and bathroom
· Visible cracks in the walls or ceiling, and signs of damp
· If the property has been recently painted as this could be covering up underlying issues
· Whether there is storage space, especially in the kitchen and bedrooms
· The view from the windows
· Condition of the windows and whether they are single or double-glazed.
If the agent taking the video skips quickly past certain areas on certain rooms – take note! There is probably a reason why so be sure to ask for more information about that specific area.
While videos are great, they aren’t a substitute for in-person viewings. You can always ask for a live video after you have watched the video that has been sent to you. Essentially, this means the agent going to the property again for you and video calling you from the property itself. You can then chat to them as they walk through and ask any extra questions as they walk around the house. After this, it is always advised to still go and see the property in person, but also important to weigh up the risks given the current climate.
If you need to visit a property in person, it is important to ensure you adhere to the guidelines put in place by the government. These include:
· Wash hands before and after
· Avoid touching things inside the house
· No more than two households inside the property at any one time
· You must always a mask
· Keep 2-metres apart from everyone inside
· Keep all internal doors open in order to minimise the amount of handling by potential buyers
In summary, you can obtain a particularly good understand of the property condition and the area from a video viewing. You can still ask as many questions as you like and gather as much information as possible. You can’t, however, get a true “feel” for the house until you visit yourself in person. This is always recommended If it is possible and safe to do so.