The coronavirus crisis has shut down most aspects of normal life, but with us all being told to stay at home as much as possible and work remotely, it’s been a time for tech to thrive.
Whether it’s friends meeting up on Houseparty or WhatsApp, virtual choirs being held on Zoom, or people FaceTiming their loved ones, modern tech has stepped in to keep us all together during these troubled times.
It’s also helping businesses to function at a point where strict social distancing measures are in place, and where many people are self-isolating if they are displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
Here, we explore how this is happening, from the luxury market to the retirement one.
Luxury agency launches virtual viewings
Beauchamp Estates has launched a new virtual viewings service for super-prime properties for the benefit of ultra-high-net-worth-buyers. With the new Ministry of Housing guidelines on moving home, and the current lockdown across the whole of the UK, the world’s super-rich are needing to go ‘virtual’ to hunt for London property.
The company has partnered with Reevo 360 to launch virtual viewings for buyers across its luxury London portfolio of homes. Applicants can request virtual tours of luxury property available for sale or to let, with the virtual viewings enabling the Beauchamp Estates team to guide buyers or tenants through properties without the applicant needing to leave their home or office.
Beauchamp Estates launched its new virtual viewings offering in light of the latest guidance from the Ministry of Housing and the Law Society, which outlined the correct marketing and transaction procedures during the coronavirus lockdown.
Agents, working remotely from home, are still allowed to market properties via virtual viewings and remote telephone/video calls, while offers can be made and accepted.
Meanwhile, for unoccupied or empty new build homes where contracts have already been exchanged, transactions can continue without any delay since there are no existing occupiers.
Reevo 360 has visited Beauchamp’s apartments and houses across London and has used a bespoke IT and camera rig to create state-of-the-art 360-degree virtual reality interior and exterior views of the instructions, alongside RICS floorplans and still photos.
Potential buyers or tenants are sent a digital link for the Beauchamp Estates property they are interested in viewing, along with a unique access code which connects the applicant’s screen to that of the agent, enabling the agent to speak to and interact with the applicant and take them on a professionally guided virtual viewing of the home.
Applicants can access the virtual viewing using any smartphone or PC device, allowing them to connect with Beauchamp Estates from anywhere in the world. In line with a normal viewing, the virtual tour can take however long the client requires - whether that be 10 minutes, 20 minutes or an hour or more.
A partner, relative, investment adviser or lawyer can also join the virtual viewing if this is desired, with up to 50 people able to have connected screens with the agent.
Gary Hersham, founding director of Beauchamp Estates, said: “Beauchamp Estates has launched a special virtual viewing service across our London portfolio of luxury homes for sale or letting. We have launched this new service for clients because, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we have continued to have enquiries and deals from clients from around the world. Our clients want to view London’s finest properties, yet stay safe from coronavirus; so the launch of our virtual viewings service is an innovative solution to help meet this demand.”
Jeremy Gee, managing director of Beauchamp Estates, added: “China and the Asian markets are slowly emerging from the coronavirus quarantine and international investors are seeing the turmoil in stock markets, taking flight from equities and putting their money into fixed assets such as premium property.”
He concluded: “Our virtual viewings offer clients a truly interactive 360-degree tour of a property where a member of our team actually guides the applicant remotely through the home, talking through its features with them and answering questions, just as they do in the real world.”
Buyers wanting to request a virtual viewing of a Beauchamp Estates property should contact the Virtual Viewing Team on +44 (0)207 499 7722 or at www.beauchamp.com.
Galliard makes remote viewings possible
Galliard Homes, London’s largest private developer, has also partnered with Reevo 360 to launch guided virtual viewings for buyers.
The developer, which recently shut down all of its building and construction sites across London with immediate effect, with the sole exception of important safety works, says virtual viewings are now available across its £3.6 billion London portfolio of new homes.
The viewings will enable the Galliard sales team to guide buyers through London properties priced from just £299,000, without the buyer needing to leave their home or the office. Virtual viewings of show homes are now available across all of Galliard’s London developments, making more than 1,000 new homes still available for sale during the crisis.
Galliard says the move towards virtual viewings and working remotely are the biggest changes in its sales and marketing operating procedures since the company was formed in 1992. Reevo 360, founded only two years ago, uses revolutionary technology linked to a bespoke design camera rig that took 18 months to research and develop
Before the lockdown, Reevo 360 visited Galliard apartments and houses across London to create state-of-the-art 360 degree virtual reality interior and exterior views of the Galliard homes for sale, alongside RICS floorplans and still photos.
Galliard says it now has a team of 25 dedicated sales agents able to provide buyers with virtual tours. It calculates that it could receive requests for up to 120 virtual tours per month, if not more over the coming two quarters of 2020.
Despite the pandemic, over the past month Galliard says it has continued to generate 20 sales per week across its London portfolio, double that of last year during the Brexit stagnation.
David Galman, sales director at Galliard Homes, said: “Galliard is delighted to have partnered with Reevo 360 in order to roll out guided virtual viewings across our London portfolio of homes for sale. Many of our UK and overseas clients are either self-isolating or working from home so they are saving on commuting and have more time to look for property. As a result of all these factors we have had a 40% spike in website hits and sales enquiries.
Buyers looking to request a virtual viewing of a Galliard property should contact the Galliard Virtual Viewing Team on +44 (0)20 7620 1500 or visit: www.galliardhomes.com.
Retirement development turns virtual to provide tours during pandemic
We recently covered the opening for sale of Hampshire’s newest retirement village, which launched just as the coronavirus outbreak really hit the UK. However, in order to get around the Covid-19 pandemic, the team behind the retirement village has turned to innovative methods to make it accessible for prospective viewings – offering video tours in place of physical visits.
Friary Meadow in Titchfield opened its doors for viewings on Saturday March 14, but the subsequent coronavirus restrictions have prevented prospective owners from visiting the site in person.
As the development is centred on the Extra Care Living model, which aims to offer support to older people while allowing them to retain their independence, the measures around resident safety on site are already stringent – and doubly so in the current climate.
The use of video tours will enable people to see specific plots in detail, allowing them to get ‘an in-depth look and an appreciation for the full scope of the home’. In turn, this then gives them the opportunity to make an informed decision from a suitably safe distance.
Dr Stephen Ladyman, founder of Oak Retirement and a former Minister of Health responsible for Social Care, said: “We’re in unprecedented waters with the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19. Extreme measures are being put in place to help combat its spread, and at Friary Meadow, we’re no different.”
He added: “Indeed, we’re extra cautious in our approach. A sizeable proportion of our prospective residents sit within the vulnerable category, so we want to do everything we can to keep them safe. This has been a key factor in opting to launch video tours – providing safe accessibility.”
If the viewer is keen to progress with a purchase following a video viewing, the team at Oak Retirement can begin the necessary legal processes, allowing owners to move in promptly as soon as lockdown measures are relaxed.
Some projections around the coronavirus crisis suggests that the UK could see a series of lockdowns over the next 18 months to contain its spread, until a vaccine is found. Dr Ladyman says an Extra Care Living home offers the perfect sanctuary, with help on hand to keep residents safe.
“This crisis is projected to last for a long period, with several lockdowns likely to be required in order to ease the burden on the NHS, giving it much-needed breathing space,” Dr Ladyman concluded.
“Those who choose to live at Friary Meadow will be doing so with an added layer of protection, being able to stay in their homes, with needs catered to by our on-site staff. The coronavirus pandemic is set to cause ongoing disruption for many months, but we’re hoping to welcome residents into Friary Meadow despite this – starting with a video introduction.”
The £35 million development is made up of 86 luxury homes, consisting of a mix of apartments, bungalows and townhouses. The scheme is a joint project, operated between independent retirement living specialist, Oak Retirement, and real estate fund manager, Frogmore.