Virtual viewings: the future of house hunting post-Covid

Virtual viewings have dramatically risen in popularity since the lockdown – and there's evidence they are here to stay

virtual viewings
(Image credit: Getty)

Virtual viewings are likely to become the new norm for house viewings in not just the next few months, but possibly beyond too. The most recent research into the behaviour of both prospective buyers and estate agents shows that house hunting online is not going away, despite the lifting of restrictions on house moves and viewings earlier this week. 

While applying for a mortgage online and doing initial research over websites such as Zoopla or Rightmove have been features of house hunting for quite some time, virtual viewings, until recently, remained a nice extra that had little real sway over a buyer's decision, and weren't offered by very many sellers and estate agents. 

The situation has changed dramatically, with a recent analysis of property listings by virtual tour provider Made Snappy showing a 179 per cent increase in listings offering a virtual tour between November 2019 and May 2020. 

Moreover, a recent poll of over 2,000 home owners and renters by The Guild of Property Professionals reveals that nearly half would now actively prefer a virtual viewing over a physical one, with many potential house movers uncomfortable with the idea of physical viewings. Speaking to The Property Reporter, Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, said:

'While estate and lettings agents will now be able to conduct physical viewings, virtual tools and tech services will still be heavily relied upon until the COVID-19 pandemic has been conquered. It is likely that for some time, consumers will continue using virtual viewings as a tool during their home search to narrow down one or two homes that they would want to visit in person, before making their final decision.'

There are important qualifications to the rise of virtual viewings, however. Firstly, they are unlikely to ever replace the physical viewing, merely reduce the number of them house hunters choose to do. Secondly, the majority of potential home owners and renters still express a strong wish to meet the current owner or the landlord of their property. Human contact is still important when making the important decision of moving house, it's just that now people are likely to be pickier about which houses they visit.