Coronavirus Hits Housing Market
The wave of momentum that followed the general election and relative closure to the Brexit saga is already feeling like a distant memory, with the coronavirus outbreak wreaking havoc on a multitude of industries. In trying times such as these, it is important to look at the bigger picture. The most immediate concern should always the health of the general public, which involves everyone looking out for one another.
Following lockdown, buyers are avoiding viewing properties. The Financial Times notes that some sales agents are using Skype and Face Time to show prospective buyers around properties. Roarie Scarisbrick, a partner at buying agency Property Vision, compares this crisis favourably to the effects of 2016’s surcharge in stamp duty, suggesting that while the impact will be significant, it will come to pass. Small statements such as these provide glimmers of hope in these unchartered waters, suggesting that if we can stay as close to the riverbank as possible, eventually the current will calm.
That is clearly easier said than done when entire markets are brought to a near standstill. There is no obvious solution, as such, however, as the example of video viewings demonstrates, there is much to be said for thinking outside of the box. People are set to be spending more time in their home than ever before. In this time, people might start to feel stagnant in their surroundings and think that when the tide settles, it may be time to enter the property market. While physical viewings are sure to reduce, online searches are likely to increase. These may seem like trivial points to consider right now, but they might also signify a roaring return to form down the line.
Indeed, Bisnow highlights how coronavirus has moved the industry online, temporarily at least, with Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium replacing their physical launch of 80 apartments and townhouses at New Cross in Manchester with a digital presentation, with those who register receiving a full price list, brochure, digital assets and demonstration video. The shift in platform extends from a launch event to sales, with Max Mason, head of sales for Lambert Smith Hampton’s online property auction business 574.co.uk, noting an increase in page views, compared to February.
Further illustrating the market’s adaptability, Homes and Property notes that ‘online viewing activity is starting to surge, as millions of stay-at-home workers make use of the extra time at their disposal by browsing property portals, in the same way that they do in the days after Christmas.’ The article also notes how requests for 3D virtual tours has increased more than sevenfold in the past week.
Classic Folios’ 3D home tours are the perfect tool for this scenario, enabling prospective buyers to view show homes using a virtual reality headset or via tablet, laptop or desktop. The technology can even be integrated into an award-winning portal, maximising a buyer’s engagement with a property. The increased interest registered at 574.co.uk suggests there is still an appetite for the housing market, despite uncertainty at what the coming weeks and months will bring. With challenges, though, comes opportunity, and this period of crisis may lead to changes in the market that last beyond the adversity, such as amore immersive digital presence for developers and, possibly, a reduced presence in the office, with more work being carried out remotely.