UK home sellers are adding £14,000 to the value of their homes simply by enabling prospective buyers to use virtual viewing technology.
In today’s manic, fast-paced housing market, homeowners find themselves in a strong position. There is a huge demand for homes and very little stock for buyers to choose from, most notably in or near areas of countryside and outstanding natural beauty.
As a result, house prices have gone through the roof and our homes are now worth more than they ever will be again – until, of course, another global event takes hold. Prices have risen by as much as 11% in the past year, and we can add to that the fact that buyers are getting desperate and therefore throwing even more money at sellers in the hope of fighting off the competition.
Now, new research has revealed that owners can add even more value to their homes simply by enabling prospective buyers to view the property virtually. Research from Twentyci shows that virtual tours increase the chances of securing a sale by 20% and, even more astonishingly, add an average of 5.6% to a home’s value.
Virtual tours are increasingly accessible, with more and more agents offering the service that sees buyers take a guided tour of a property through their smartphone or computer screen. The most advanced of these solutions enable viewers to don virtual reality headsets and take an immersive, 360-degree tour, wandering from one room to another.
Quite why these virtual tours add 5.6% value to a home is up for debate, but the data is undeniable, and with an average UK house price of £256,405, it’s equivalent to an additional £14,000.
The company behind this research is U-See Homes, a firm on the cutting edge of virtual viewing technology. Simon Dempsey is their Head of Marketing and, following the release of this data, said:
“The added value that guided virtual tours can offer to both homeowners and landlords is evident but they’re only able to utilise this technology if their agent of choice offers it. However, our previous research found that just 4% of homes listed for sale across the UK’s major cities make use of virtual viewing tech.
“There is now the ability to deliver unrivaled real-time guided viewing experiences online, without compromising on traditional face-to-face interaction.”
As Dempsey says, despite the increased popularity of virtual viewings, it’s still relatively few agents who offer it. But in light of this new research, we expect this number to rise rapidly over the coming months.
Homeowners are already in a position of strength, but by choosing to sell their home with the help of an agent who offers virtual viewings technology, this position is galvanised further still.
Is this good news for buyers?
Everything that the government has done over the past year to enliven the housing market has been a great benefit to owners and property industry professionals, pushing up prices and sending demand into the stratosphere. But for buyers, it’s a more complicated picture.
Yes, homes are now more accessible in the sense that 95%-mortgages and the stamp duty holiday (ending at the end of June) have reduced some of the financial barriers to buying, but both initiatives have also forced prices to rocket. This means that houses are now expensive and in short supply. As a result, buyers are having to act very quickly and even offer money over the asking price to secure a purchase. In other words, while owners are in a position of strength, the buyer experience has become harder and more frustrating.
So, is the news that virtual viewings are making homes even more expensive a good thing for buyers?
Largely, no, it’s not. More expensive is rarely a preferable situation. But the positive is that you can view more properties more quickly. Sitting in an agent’s office, you can tour four or five homes in a couple of hours, therefore able to place your offer quickly before the competition gets there.
But, and this is a BIG but, we do not advise you to make an offer on a home without seeing it in person first, and certainly not an offer that is £14,000 over the asking price. Virtual tours are fantastic and the technology is improving at breakneck speed, but they do not enable you to understand the nuances of a property and its surrounding area like being there in person does.
Use the virtual tour to get a quick idea of whether a home appears to fulfill your needs and wants, and then book a physical viewing as soon as you can. There is a great sense of pressure in today’s housing market, but don’t let it get to you, and don’t let it force you into making expensive decisions you’re not entirely sure about.
Good luck out there!