Property Gold: Virtual Tours – are they worth it?
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Last updated Nov 24, 2020


Property Gold is a monthly column written by independent bespoke property consultant, Alex Goldstein. With over 17 years’ experience, Alex helps his clients to buy and sell residential property in some of the most desirable locations in Yorkshire and beyond. 

This week Alex explains the benefits and pitfalls of selling your home using virtual tours. 

When it comes to selling your home, we are consistently told that estate agents need to use every tool at their disposal – from accompanied viewings to drone imagery and social media campaigns. However one relatively new bit of technology is getting a lot of coverage both by agents and indeed the property portals – virtual tours.

From the comfort of your armchair, you can now have a ‘virtual look’ around a property in high resolution and never leave your own home. Given the Covid circumstances we currently find ourselves in, there is a strong argument to create a virtual tour of your home. Afterall they look great, buyers seem to love them and if it helps sell your home then why not?

However as I see it, there is another angle to virtual tours and the way they are generally used in the marketplace currently is questionable.

Firstly and most importantly, a virtual tour is a significant security risk. Having interviewed a former Royal Marine Commando who now runs his own security business, he concurred that given the high resolution of these tours and ability to zoom-in, meant he could easily find out where alarm panels and sensors were, family photographs and documents to research the vendor, where keys were kept, high value items, plus of course take an in-depth walk through. Thankfully he was one of the good guys, but what if he wasn’t?


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The other issue is that virtual tours are often casually placed online, however it gives too much information away up front about a property. You are letting interested parties make up their own minds about your home, without them engaging with the agent, which somewhat defeats the object of the exercise, especially if they have got the wrong impression.

It is always encouraging to hear that you received several hundred views of your virtual tour, however the agent can’t follow any of these viewers up, as they and the portals do not know who actually viewed it.

Instead, I feel the key with virtual tours is to keep them offline and for the agent to retain control by offering ‘accompanied virtual tours’. This means that an interested party can still virtually look around your home, however the agent shares their computer screen and talks the viewer through in real time. This means you will get better feedback, more engagement and don’t unnecessarily add to your digital footprint.

The key with virtual tours – less is more!

 

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