What are virtual inspections and how do they play a new role in the process of renting your property during COVID?

With social distancing a reality for the foreseeable future, rentals are turning to virtual visits or digital inspections until a new normal returns.

Thankfully the technology is there to facilitate this either via:

  • Live virtual inspections 
  • Video walk-throughs
  • 3D virtual tours 

What is a virtual inspection?

A digital or virtual inspection uses technology like video calling apps, videos or immersive 3D video to remotely showcase a listing to potential tenants. This has been used by the real estate industry to market properties for sale and rent – but has become critical in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is important to understand the different types of virtual inspections, and the technology used for each.

Different types of virtual inspections 

A live virtual inspection could be carried out via video apps like Facetime, Facebook Live, Skype or Zoom with the landlord, agent or property manager as host. They walk prospective tenants through the property and there is the ability for tenants to ask questions. For this option prospective tenants have to log onto the platform at a specific time while the agent is hosting – so in this sense it is almost like turning up to an open inspection, albeit remotely. 

Video walk-throughs have been a popular tool for helping to market properties for sale. A video walkthrough is recorded, edited and produced, often with additional elements like music and titles. These are then uploaded to a listing, to be viewed for as long as it remains live. 

3D virtual tours require dedicated equipment and virtual reality software to create an immersive and interactive user experience. Industry leader Matterport makes a camera that produces 3D walk-throughs, with functionality like schematic floor plans and HD still images of individual rooms. Viewers click through various points in a house to get a 360-degree perspective, with multiple views of each room and the exterior of the property. 

But what are the pros and cons of virtual inspections?

The pros and cons of a virtual inspections

A virtual inspection or virtual tour has a number of benefits for prospective tenants, including giving them an accurate idea of:

  • The size of a property
  • The layout of a property
  • The condition of a property

A 3D video also gives you additional functionality and features, like a measuring tool and the ability to zoom in on details in a property. Video walk-throughs and 3D experiences also allow one to re-inspect a listing at any time and share it with friends and family for their feedback. This is arguably better than the traditional, rushed 15 minute rental inspection on a busy Saturday morning. 

The obvious con – and weaknesses for tenants – is that no matter how immersive the technology is, it is never going to fully replicate an in-person experience. This is however something of a moot point, as long as social distancing measures remain in place. 

Virtual inspections, the new normal?

COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the uptake of tools like 3D virtual tours and digital inspections. The property management industry and online portals like realestate.com.au and Domain are all now supporting digital inspections as they adapt to evolving market conditions and changing consumer sentiment. 

A Digital Inspections Consumer Survey of buyers and renters by REA Group in April 2020 found that 83% of respondents indicated that a virtual tour helps them, ‘better shortlist properties’. 61% of those surveyed also thought that digital inspection videos made a listing stand out, and ‘appear more premium’. 

Ash Frenken, CEO of property management agents propper expects video marketing to feature heavily as landlords look to gain an edge in what could be a crowded marketplace. ‘Virtual inspections are going to become an expectation of tenants as they change the way they interact with property from being a primary ‘physical/in-person’ event to a remote ‘online’ interaction. There is every possibility that even after restrictions are lifted on open-for-inspections, properties without some form of virtual inspection will miss out on securing tenants’.

Getting virtual inspections and 3D tours right

If you want to implement virtual inspections or a 3D tour for your listing take the time to get it right. This includes:

  • Using dedicated equipment and software – to produce a professional virtual tour or 3D tour.
  • Detailing all the key features in the property, including storage, natural light, internet connectivity, security, property inclusions and heating/cooling systems.
  • Covering the most important rooms in the property, starting with the kitchen, followed by the bedrooms, bathrooms, living room and exterior.

Virtual inspections do raise a practical question: can you accept a tenant without them  physically viewing the property.

Can you accept a tenant without a physical inspection? 

The answer is yes, but make sure your property manager has a signed waiver from the tenant explaining that they are accepting the property sight unseen, and that the virtual/digital inspection is an accurate display of the property’s condition as viewed by them.

As full service property agents, embracing the latest and greatest in real estate estate technology, propper, provide a FREE 3D virtual tour for every listing. To learn more about how propper can help you, click here to book a call with a propper expert today.

Ash Frenken

About Ash Frenken

An inspired entrepreneur with a vision to drive change in the Property Management industry.

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