2020 has thrown countless challenges at the property market and the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus pandemic have led to a tumultuous year. From the industry shut-down to new social distancing measures during viewings, property professionals have needed to adapt quickly to keep their businesses afloat as the situation has progressed.
While there will always be the need for physical interaction in the sale and letting of property, digital innovations have allowed property businesses to continue providing some of their services even when the market was closed during the UK’s first lockdown which started in March.
The property industry shut-down and how digital kept agents going
When the UK entered lockdown at the end of March 2020, demand for rental properties immediately fell by 42%, while buying demand fell by 70% in the first month. With the industry closed down and eviction and repossession bans allowing people to keep their homes for longer, most of the country decided to stay put.
This resulted in pent-up demand which then saw house prices and asking rent shoot up once the market opened again. Asking prices hit a 21-year high in October while the UK excluding London saw a rental growth of 2.2%. Switching rapidly from a completely closed market to the fastest spike in demand in recent history shows how property professionals have needed to react quickly to get ahead of their workload and continue delivering for both new and current tenants.
The growth of virtual viewings and remote inspection was essential to the continuation of the property market throughout the period of shut-down and the period since opening again. Houses have been sold without the buyers ever setting foot in them, with some buying properties from another country without visiting. Whether it’s Instagram DMs or Facebook Live, sellers and buyers are getting creative with ways to continue the sale of property throughout the ever-changing rules.
The value of long-distance viewings & inspections
Virtual viewings have been an effective way for property marketing to continue to a wide range of interested buyers and renters. Virtual viewings have also helped sellers manage their time more effectively, as social distancing means that only one household at a time can attend a viewing, putting an end to open houses and group viewings for the time being.
Virtual inspections, including interim inspections and check-ins also protect the health and safety of both property owners and tenants, as tenants are able to complete these inspections in their own time. Allowing tenants to carry out this work on their own using comprehensive templates means you only have to monitor the progress of the inspection and everything can be automated, granting you additional time to focus on more important work.
This also helps businesses save money as agents and inspectors are required to travel less often and are able to optimise their productivity by outsourcing some of the basic elements of the property industry virtually.
Innovations in remote & virtual inspections
During the coronavirus pandemic, InventoryBase has launched a number of services aimed at expanding contactless services for property professionals. Our self-service inspections templates were used 20,000 times in the first three months of the lockdown and continue to provide a fast, contactless method of inspecting properties for property owners.
We’ve also introduced drone inspections which allow inspectors to review roofs and hard-to-reach places without the need for scaffolding, meaning one inspector can survey a property quickly and safely from the ground.
Our latest launch of live virtual inspections allows you to carry out property inspections in real time without the need for an inspector to enter the property. This will continue to be an important service even beyond the pandemic as it allows inspectors to improve their productivity without ever needing to leave home or the office.
Previously, remote inspections were carried out by tenants but live inspections allow for a more in-depth survey of the property by a professional inspector. These inspections allow you to have a comprehensive understanding of the needs and condition of the property at the beginning and end of a tenancy, as well as throughout.
The future of PropTech
From self-service check-ins and check-outs to live virtual inspections, remote property processes will allow property owners and professionals to work more efficiently, keep a closer eye on the property and maintain more complete historic records of the property throughout its lifetime.
Despite recent news of potential vaccines, the coronavirus pandemic will continue to affect life for months, will continued innovation focus on remote and automated processes or will a ‘return to normal’ change our priorities again?
By Damon Culbert from InventoryBase