PROPERTY NEWS - The digitisation of home viewing is the way forward for the real estate industry, with quite a large percentage of buyers who are relocating to another town or city already being prepared to buy just off virtual tours rather than a personal viewing.
In addition, the majority of home buyers now using online listings and particularly virtual tours to identify and narrow down prospects to just a few properties that they will book to view in person, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.
"While popular before, online house-hunting has in fact been given an extra boost by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting increase in remote working, with many more people having more time - and more inclination - to scroll through the property portals in search of their dream homes," he says.
"This accelerated move online is of course great for home sellers and landlords because their listings are getting more views, and it's good for the real estate industry too, in terms of the efficiencies of arranging home viewings by specific appointment instead of holding show days, and of holding meetings via video call rather than face to face."
What is more, he says, things are not likely to go back to the way they were, simply because of the continuous development of the new and improved viewing technologies. "In the near future, for example, there is likely to be widespread adoption of immersive virtual reality technology, which will enable prospective home buyers using Smart glasses or a VR headset to feel like they are actually inside and walking around the property they are viewing online.
"Virtual staging, which digitally adds furnishings to an empty space, is also likely to undergo more development and become more realistic - and easier for even digitally challenged home owners to use."
Meanwhile, home sellers need to bear in mind that "screen appeal" is now at least as important as "curb appeal" and think carefully about how their properties will come across to online viewers.
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says the three most essential tasks for sellers to complete before their home is photographed for an internet listing are the following:
"Clear every non-essential item off every counter and table, including ornaments and photos. Put away all toys, shoes and other loose items, and tidy the cupboards. Give away whatever items you no longer need and box the rest up in anticipation of your move. Remember, the less random stuff on display, the more spacious your rooms will look."
You may love how your rooms are arranged, he says, but your furniture placement might not maximize space on screen. "Take some test photos to see if the current layouts photograph well. If they don't, remove some items from each room and put them in storage as well.
"Alternatively, if the home is empty, you should talk to your agent about hiring some furniture pieces to strategically 'stage' the property, which will help viewers to get a better idea of the space available."
Putting on the shine
"Clean, dust and polish every available surface until it gleams. Open the curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible, and replace any dim light bulbs with bright ones. Even the most beautiful and welcoming spaces won't photograph well if they're too dark."
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