While the property market is officially open for business, and viewings are permitted if conducted with adherence to guidelines, there is no question that both buyers’ and vendors’ appetite for viewing in person is significantly reduced.
Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search says, “People are still wary, and understandably being very careful. While we’re encouraging buyers to go and look at property physically, it’s often not advisable or possible to revisit as often as one might have done in the pre-Covid world.
“But there are ways you can make sure that your viewing is satisfactory, and sufficient for your needs without necessarily having to revisit on numerous occasions.
“Firstly, minimise your physical investigation and trips, minimise your contact with locals, take food and drink with you, and be overt in keeping your distance; people are nervous, so respect that you are on their ‘turf’, and do your best to be careful.
“If you are making a trip to a new area, maximise the use of that one journey by doing as much online research as possible before getting into the car. Use the visit to answer questions that you have identified.
“Work out a route that takes in several properties similar to the one you are interested in that are on the market. This puts a property into context and has the multi-benefit effect of discovering more about the area, and giving you a number of comparables so you can get an idea of what you get for your money.
“There is much you can do to ‘view’ a property without actually walking through the door. A drive-by is useful, a walk-by is better, but the best option is an organised viewing from the outside. You’ll need to set this up with the agent. Ask them if they can arrange for you to come onto the grounds, and walk around the outside of the property, looking through windows, and exploring the extent of the curtilage. If you do this with the floor plans and images in front of you, you’ll get a very good impression without having to put the vendors to the trouble of an old-fashioned viewing. You’ll get at least 30% of the benefit of an internal viewing, and you’ll certainly walk away knowing whether or not you want to see more.
“Virtual tours are also a good way of having a first look at a property without having to make an unnecessary journey, or go through the difficulties of a viewing for a property that turns out to be quite clearly unsuitable. But don’t set too much store by virtual tours; they have a place, but their limitations should be understood. In the same way that a brochure will show you the best pictures of a property in its best light, so will a virtual tour. In our opinion, the less sophisticated the virtual tour, the more valuable it is!
“Be very particular about which properties you make an arrangement to view. There’s lots of research you can do in advance to ensure you’re not wasting your time or taking unnecessary risks. The actual viewing shouldn’t be a voyage of discovery, you should aim to answer most, or at least many, of your questions in advance.
“When you’ve done as much research as possible, there does come a time for most when a physical viewing does need to be undertaken. Be understanding, follow the protocols outlined by the agent, and don’t linger longer than necessary. Take exhaustive notes, and ask the agent if the vendor minds you filming your walk-through on your phone. It’s so easy to forget what you’ve seen, and great notes and visual references will cut down the number of follow-up viewings if you’re serious about a property.
“If your notes aren’t sufficiently detailed, and there are a few details you need to be reminded about, ask the agent to walk you through the house while you’re linked on a video call.”
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