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‘Traditional viewings are under threat from Coronavirus’

Three senior figures from the industry reveal how their worlds are changing as the crisis puts a huge question mark over physical viewings and appraisals.

Nigel Lewis

property viewings

A trio of figures from the estate agency industry have told The Negotiator that Coronavirus is changing both public and industry attitudes to property viewings.

Giles Barrett (left), Sales Director at Rentify and before that a Partner at Knight Frank, says he suspects that virtual viewings, which began as a measure to ‘keep the market moving’, are here to stay long after lockdown has been lifted.

“Over the years, I have met with hundreds, possibly thousands of landlords and tenants, to value flats in the case of the former and to view flats in the case of the latter,” he says.

“That face-to-face contact is enjoyable and important but, in these times of lockdown, I’ve been wondering if we’re making the most of it.

“Am I suggesting the scrapping of face to face? Not at all. What I am suggesting is a rethink on when and how to use tech and how and when to use face-to-face.

“When it comes to tenants, video could be used for research with the actual viewing more as validation – surely a better use of time for all.”

Ed Lewis (left), Head of London Residential Development Sales at Savills, says that his negotiators are now incentivised by the number of virtual viewings they conduct, a radical departure within a company that has for so long measured them by how many physical viewings they attend.

And Paul Spencer (below), who worked for PrimeLocation and traditional property advertising media firms before joining home virtualisation software firm Revvis, says the Coronavirus crisis will persuade the industry to look at other metrics than physical viewings as the ongoing quasi-lockdown will make them more difficult to organise.

paul spencer trinity mirror

Quoting recent YOPA figures, Spencer says it takes 15 viewings on average to sell a home and that, if just half of these are completed online rather than face-to-face as the Coronavirus post-lockdown environment leads more people to stick only to essential viewings, then a huge shift in consumer behaviour will take place.

Read more about property viewings.

May 6, 2020

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