Ideal for selling your house during a global pandemic.

As COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives, virtual property viewings are gradually replacing in-person viewings as the “norm” when it comes to selling property. Offering potential buyers the opportunity to view your home without travelling or mixing with another household could boost the number of viewings booked and increase your chances of getting a sale. 

Though it might sound like the easier option, there are some things to consider when hosting a virtual or remote viewing that you don’t have to think about in a traditional one. With that in mind, here are 6 top tips for hosting virtual viewings, IDEAL for selling your house during a global pandemic.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIRTUAL TOURS & VIRTUAL VIEWINGS

If you’re planning to host virtual viewings of your property, speak to an estate agent first. Although this is still a developing area – and as such, everyone is learning on the job – most agencies will have experience in managing remote viewings and will be able to give you some helpful pointers. 

It’s worth noting that many estate agents use the term “virtual tours” to refer to pre-recorded videos of a property that are attached to a property listing, whereas a “virtual viewing” is conducted live, just as a traditional in-person viewing would be. Somewhat confusingly, these terms are often used interchangeably, so make sure you know what you’re agreeing to — a digital walkthrough, a live-streamed tour or a video filmed by you.

For live streamed viewings, you will need to use a phone, tablet or another handheld device to show the potential buyer around your home. The agency should be able to advise you on video conferencing apps to use, such as Zoom. The beauty of this technology is that multiple people can join the viewing and ask questions, just as they would in a traditional property viewing, enabling you to expand your reach hugely. 

If you are reluctant or unable to invite an estate agent into your home to conduct the viewing yet you also feel uncomfortable talking a buyer through the property, invite your estate agent to dial in and provide the commentary.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK

Make sure that you have agreed on a date and time, decided who will be attending and shared any necessary links, for example to video conferencing apps, well ahead of the viewing. Last-minute changes or technology fails will be frustrating for the buyer who may have limited time for the call — you don’t want them to give up and move on to the next property.

While the buyer’s primary interest is your home, you, the owner, will be much more of a focus in a video call than you would be in a traditional viewing so do endeavour to look presentable and come across amiably. The video will be focusing on the property for the majority of the viewing but you’ll need to greet the buyer and respond to any questions they have at the end of the call. 

Gather any documents or information that you might need to refer to ahead of the viewing. The buyer might want to ask about the property’s running costs or details of when you last had the boiler serviced, for example. Having this information immediately to hand will facilitate a smoother, more agreeable viewing.

HAVE A TRIAL RUN

If you’ll be hosting the viewing in collaboration with your estate agent, arrange a trial run. This will allow you to make sure the technology works and to identify key features that you might want to linger on and talk more about. 

A trial run will also flag any issues such as difficulties filming the loft while holding your device steady or areas that are poorly lit and not easy to see on camera. If you’re aware of these issues before you start viewings you can address them so that the “real” ones are professional, polished and helpful to the potential buyer. As we all know, constant interaction with the internet has wreaked havoc on our collective attention spans; avoid any occasion where a viewer might find an opportunity to leave the English way.

ARRANGE FOR CHILDREN AND PETS TO BE ELSEWHERE

Trying to manage a remote viewing with young children and pets running around is a sure-fire recipe for a stressful and unsatisfactory experience for everyone involved. You need to give the call your full attention and the buyer should feel able to take their time, ask questions and request to see a particular area of the property again, rather than feigning interest once again in the breed of your dog or the age of your child. 

Treat your children and pets to an afternoon at the childminder’s or doggy daycare centre, if possible, and give this thing your full attention.

CONSIDER LIGHTING AND SOUND

This is something you don’t have to worry about in a traditional viewing, but in a video call, lighting is all-important. Open the curtains or blinds, switch on the lights and ask for feedback from your estate agent or a friend during your trial run. If there are dark spots that don’t show up well on camera, such as cellars, see if you can borrow some portable lights so that the potential buyer can see properly during the live stream. Not only do you want to avoid viewers being unable to see parts of your house, but big shadows being thrown can make your place appear dingy.

Consider potential sources of noise that could disrupt the viewing and distract the buyer, too. Close doors and windows, turn TVs and radios off and make sure the washing machine won’t suddenly spring into life! You won’t be able to control all sources of noise — if the neighbour chooses to start up the mower during the viewing, there is little you can do about it — but do everything in your control to minimise unwanted sounds during the call.  

TIDY AND CLEAN

Just as with an in-person viewing, you want to make your home look its best before the buyer joins the call. Tidy away clutter, remove limescale from taps and run the mower over the garden — every little effort will help to sell your house, as you never know when the camera flash might catch that buffed door knob just so.

A well-cared-for and much-loved home is more likely to lead to an offer than a scruffy, unkempt one. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in your house to see its potential as their new home. It’s also worth “staging” your property ahead of viewings — adding a vase of fresh flowers to the lounge or a bowl of fruit to the kitchen will create a homely feel, for instance, though that smell of baking bread won’t be sensed through the screen, of course.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Many house sellers dread the thought of viewings — they feel intrusive, they’re inconvenient and it can take seemingly endless bookings to secure just one offer. However, if you choose to sell on the open market, they are a necessary evil and remote viewings provide a safe option during the current pandemic. 

If you want to avoid the rigmarole of remote viewings and even greater bureaucracy in the selling process altogether, and are looking to sell your house fast, a house cash buying company can manage the whole sales process, from valuation to completion, entirely remotely without a single viewing taking place. They have the funds to buy your home for cash in a time frame that suits you — this could be in as little as seven days. Worth considering for those in a hurry to move out and move on, perhaps. 

If you’re planning to sell your home on the open market in 2021, offering remote viewings will be key to securing a quick sale. Unfortunately, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic looks set to continue well into the next year and many buyers will not be able to attend in-person viewings. Mastering the art of hosting professional remote viewings could make the difference between selling your house and watching it sit on the market for months.