If you're selling a property in 2020, you'll know of the many challenges that now accompany house sales. Everything is taking longer, no one's quite sure of what's happening to house prices, and many buyers are still worried about coronavirus enough to be reluctant to view homes.
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However, there are signs that some prospective home owners are actually prepared to buy a home without physically viewing it at all. Although virtual viewings still cannot replace physical viewings for most buyers, some – one in six, to be precise – are prepared to be flexible. Over a third of Brits expect virtual viewings will be the norm when house hunting and one in five believe you can get everything you need from viewing a property virtually.
According to a survey of 2,000 adults by Purplebricks, those who are prepared to consider a property on the merit of a virtual viewing would like to get a detailed walkthrough of the entire space, a sense of any issues or repairs, brightness of the rooms, and storage space. The functionality of the space, a sense of ambience or a feeling about the house and the décor were also important considerations to encourage people to buy a house from a virtual viewing. Interiors expert and author of Mad About the House, Kate Watson Smyth, offers her pro tips on making a virtual viewing work.
1. Make a good first impression
This applies equally to physical and virtual viewings, so do all the tidying you would do if someone were to physically be coming to see your home:
'Buyers may not be walking up the front garden path but they will be starting in your hall. This sets the tone for the rest of the house so make sure it’s tidy – no piles of coats, bags and shoes spilling out. Make sure the doors to the other rooms are open, so that it’s as light as possible.'
2. Offer 360° views
Most buyers these days are social media users and are well aware of how easy it is to edit out clutter and mess in a nice image – so offer them all-encompassing views of your property that don't hide anything. Invest in a 360° camera lens if needed.
3. Acknowledge problem areas
No home is perfect, so if your kitchen is tiny/the living room has a northern aspect/one the windows doesn't have a great view, be upfront about these things. Kate advises:
'If you have a small dark room, then dress it to be cosy and inviting and show how you use it – e.g. as a kid’s TV room, a home office, or a guest room.'
4. Add a bit of glamour to the living room
The living room is very important and, alongside the kitchen, will be the most important room for your prospective buyers – so spruce it up! Kate advises adding a few personal touches, without cluttering the room with too many pictures of your family/pets. Her top tip? Fill the room with fresh flowers and nice coffee table books:
'While virtual viewers may not be able to smell fresh flowers, they still look pretty. Make sure any big leaves are shiny and remove any brown or droopy leaves. House buying is still aspirational as well as practical; make sure your coffee table books reflect that.'
5. Show off your kitchen storage
The main thing prospective buyers want to know is that they'll be able to enjoy cooking in your kitchen. So, Kate recommends flaunting your kitchen storage space:
'Storage is key in this room. Make sure at least one cupboard is tidy (and open it to show viewers). Declutter the worktops so keen cooks can see there is plenty of prep and storage space.
If you have a pantry or a utility room then tidy it and show it off. Buyers want to know where they can store the ironing board, the muddy boots or washing machine.'