Lettings agencies should continue to use IT solutions like livestream viewings even as the pandemic eases, according to one of the most prominent PropTech firms in the sector.
Gavl, a livestream platform which allows agents to stage interactive open house viewing events, launched in the UK a year ago at the height of the Coronavirus crisis.
It says that such platforms can be more effective than charging £30 or more for viewings - an idea put forward by rival PropTech company ViewRabbit, and generally dismissed by agents in polls and across the trade press.
“Even as society reopens again, and things get back closer to normal, there should be long-term legacies from the pandemic in terms of a tech-led approach and minimising travel and admin” says Joel Smith, chief executive of Gavl.
He continues: “People have changed their lifestyles and work patterns for good, and with this will come different expectations when it comes to viewing a property. In the first instance, many will want to continue with viewing properties online first before visiting it in person, and this has the added advantage of cutting out those who aren’t genuinely interested or are just interested in doing a bit of window-browsing.”
An early adopter of livestream viewings was high profile Midlands agency Nicol & Co, which says that since that time it’s attracted more than 3,500 potential house buyers and tenants to watch 500-plus virtual property viewings by using the Gavl platform.
“We’re now a year on … We continue to see its popularity as the first opportunity to view properties to let or buy without the need to travel” says agency chief Matt Nicol, whose company operates from offices in Droitwich, Worcester and Malvern.
Nicol and his staff have been able to carry out around 10 livestream viewings a week, during which prospective buyers or tenants can tour properties as a live event.
Sarah Jenkins, lettings manager at the company, says it’s been a way of measuring serious interest amongst prospective tenants.
“We then take the most suitable applicant to physically view the property, which means we save precious time that was previously spent on multiple viewings.
“That’s at least two hours of time saved, per deal, which means our staff can focus more time on providing the service to our clients that they have come to expect. This has made a huge impact, as we’re attracting more stock, achieving more lettings, and yet we’re able to do all that with the same numbers of staff.”