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Agency lets 26 properties in one month with no physical viewings

An agency says it has recently let 26 properties in one month without conducting any physical viewings.

Oakwood Homes, operating in Kent, says it used a livestreaming platform, Gavl, to conduct all the lettings viewings when it would normally has conducted up to 20 physical viewings per property pre-pandemic.

“We will not be returning to the 'old way'" states Andrew Dickinson, managing director of Oakwood Homes, who says a combination of strong engagement with the concept from his staff plus a clear marketing strategy supporting virtual viewings was key to the success. 


With England now in the fourth week of the third national lockdown, the housing market remains open but government advice continues to urge virtual viewings held in the first instance with only serious applicants attending physical viewings.

"Carrying out livestream viewings drastically reduces the number of physical viewings required per property and as shown by Oakwood Homes, they can eliminate the need for them altogether in many circumstances" says Joel Smith, Gavl chief executive.

"With lockdown in England set to last until at least March 8 and some sort of social distancing rules set to remain in place for a long time, agents need an efficient and effective way of carrying out digital viewings so people can continue to move home with confidence.”

Following the livestream event, agents are provided with a transcript as well as details of all the applicants who turned up.

Smith adds that livestream viewings reduce the pressure on vendors and landlords as they only have to open up their home once, rather than carrying out a range of one-on-one viewings with applicants who aren't seriously interested.

"There are also additional lead generation opportunities for agents as we know applicants may also be selling a property and prospective landlords or sellers often turn up to open house viewings to carry out market research.

"As well as saving time and keeping people safe, livestream viewings help agents to create a buzz around a property and give them a USP over competitors" Smith concludes.

  • James B

    Can’t see the big fuss . Easy enough to do a block viewing spaced apart and let them wander around alone. Zero risk there
    Most of our tenants would get the keys and immediately whinge about something they did see or realise, most importantly we want to see them in person to gauge what they are like .. idiots everywhere and we don’t want them in our properties

    • 04 February 2021 10:43 AM

    Can't see how the concept of doing block viewings is classed as 'zero risk'. We're also GAVL users & to have all potential tenants watch remotely before expressing their interest is infact zero risk.
    More time effective also - why lose a staff member 1hr+ instead of 15 mins for a livestream??
    It is about managing expectations but all interested parties get to apply after watching the livestream with the successful tenant (chosen based on referencing/circumstance) are then signed up - subject to the viewing.
    Be worth a chat James to see if it would improve things for your team.

  • Mark Wilson

    Tenants in Kent must be pretty easy to please. 26 let in one month!

    Andrew Dickinson

    That's life for you Mark - outside of London! Right now the lettings market is booming in Kent, with many tenants relocating out of the City - and for them what we offer for the rent clearly seems a bargain!

  • icon

    An interesting stat to see would be the average duration of a tenancy for someone who has viewed only online/virtually versus the duration for those who have viewed in person.
    Of course this would be borderline impossible to do but I would suspect the online only viewing ones would be markedly shorter.

  • icon

    I see the "old school" agents moaning. Keep up with world and technology grandpa. It's an absolute norm now, same as not shaking hands and if you're honest enough to point out faults and flaws within the flat I don't see the reason why video viewings is bad thing

    Algarve  Investor

    It's the future, particularly among younger generations and more so post-Covid. Those who embrace it early will benefit the most long-term.

    • A W
    • 03 February 2021 11:32 AM

    You're obviously not understanding what's going on here:

    1. This is a fluff piece (likely paid for by Gavl)
    2. It is highly unlikely (check out the named agent)
    a. They only have 29 available properties "to rent"
    b. some of those are commercial units as well
    3. You obviously don't understand nor have ever dealt with the fallout of virtual viewings.

    There is a difference between embracing proptech, and what the reality and aftercare of a situation brings.

  • icon
    • D K
    • 03 February 2021 10:39 AM


  • icon

    A W
    I think people can recognise "paid content"
    Dealing with a fallout virtual or not virtual is a really part of EA job. These things happen. Virtual tour is just another great tool at this time and age just need to embrace it. I'm not saying it will become a norm taking a house without the viewing

  • icon

    I'm always genuinely surprised that there is so much negativity on new ideas. You dont have to use it, but we do use Gavl, and yes we could "just open a door" but the point is by doing a live viewing initially you get the motivated buyers wanting a physical inspection. Sensible at any time but certainly at a point in time where you are putting yourselves and vendors at some risk. For the record we have had no fall out from doing a Live viewing whatsoever in fact the reverse, our sellers and landlords love it and as an agency we are directing our time with the serious enquiries and not the tyre kickers.Nigel Keene, Whiteknights.

  • icon

    Properties always look better on carefully taken photos and videos

  • Andrew Dickinson

    I have read these comments with interest - and can confirm that this story is a true event. I know - I run the business!
    We did let 26 properties all through the Gavl App and do let 20+ most months. Our processes are very strict and fair. We have been using the Gavl App since June and to start there was negativity, but as we persisted tenants have come round to understanding the benefits and now really embrace it.
    A quality presentation to an audience who understand the system, brings results - every time.
    I can understand peoples scepticism - and no you don't have to change. But as our local competition have found to their detriment, our market share has substantially increased- so much so that they have now chosen to follow suit and are also using Gavl...!
    Time to move forward rather than standing still - look what happened to Blackberry..?!
    Andrew Dickinson - Oakwood homes


    First of all, well done Andrew on 26 successful lettings this way. I hope that they all go well for you.

    My concern has always been that by letting a property solely in this manner, as a letting agent, you miss one of maybe 3 important opportunities to vet your applicants. Whilst I understand that you'll only have a few minutes with an applicant at the viewing, you at least get some impression of your applicants appearance and attitude. We use this, together with emails and telephone calls to make some sort of a judgement as to whether or not someone is going to make a good tenant. After all, as agents, we have to work with them for the duration of the tenancy and the check-out process. And, I believe that we have a duty to our landlords to ensure that we provide the best tenants we can.

    Another important issue is the tenant's likely reaction to the property in the flesh. For this reason also, we insist that all prospective tenants view the property. Imagine the hassle if the tenant who didn't view it doesn't like it and refuses to move in. This would be a hell of a mess to unpick.

    I understand the need to innovate, especially during these Covid times, but in all honesty, if you are abandoning tried and tested methods of tenant selection, then I believe you are using tech for the sake of it.

    There is much good tech out there, and this sort of thing makes an initial appraisal by an applicant easier, but in my opinion, it is not some sort of silver bullet.

    I'd dearly love my competitors to adopt this and abandon physical viewings. It might take some time, but I believe that their standards will inevitably fall over time.

    That said, I wish you well and hope that you're able to prove me wrong.

  • icon

    Well done Andrew Dickinson (not totally convinced re live streaming technique) but you've sorted 26 families a property in a pandemic. Credit, you've made it happen. Weak agents should now be abandoned asap.
    Good LL's supported by good agents. Survival of the fittest


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