As more people start to think about moving home as the coronavirus restrictions are eased, sales and letting agents are being urged to prepare for a significant increase in virtual viewings as part of their post-lockdown plans.
While physical viewings are now permissible, in some cases they may not be possible or advisable, which is why virtual viewings will almost certainly remain an essential method of viewing property even after the coronavirus emergency.
Paul Offley, group compliance officer at epropservices, parent company of The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country, said: “There are many benefits to virtual viewings such as the speed of being able to arrange a 'viewing', efficiency for all parties resulting in applicants only completing a physical viewing on properties that are on their individual 'hot list' and whilst meeting government guidance in keeping face-to-face meetings to a minimum to prevent spreading of Covid-19.”
Offley says that as changes to the way properties are shown and marketed has developed, so has the need for new regulations to ensure that consumers are protected in this new environment.
He added: “With virtual viewings and pre-recorded property viewings now used as part of the commercial practice by estate and lettings agents, it is likely to be considered as such under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
“With this in mind, Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards in partnership with The Property Ombudsman and Propertymark have recently sent a Primary Authority Advice document providing guidance in regard to conducting virtual viewings.
“The document highlights agent’s responsibilities during a viewing and representation made during any video footage.”
How does the Smart Viewing process work? The prospective buyer or tenant will contact the agent to request a virtual viewing, selecting a date and time that suits them, whether that is straight away or at a future date.
They will then receive an email with an invitation to join the viewing via their laptop, PC tablet or mobile.
Smart Viewing will automatically be added to the Members’ Hubs for both The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country on the launch date, so there will be nothing to action from agent’s side.