Estate agents in Richmond are turning to alternative ways of conducting business while prospective buyers, sellers and tenants are in lockdown.
Agents have been quick to adapt by taking advantage of technology and many are now offering clients access to virtual viewings, video conference calls, and photo tours from the safety of their own homes.
These measures come in response to Government guidelines for estate agents issued on March 26, which urged people to defer all non-critical moves and to observe social distancing.
Chestertons Richmond associate sales director Xavier Marqués-Wicks said: “Technology has very suddenly come into play, and because some people still need to move, we’ve seen a steady increase in web traffic over the past few days.
“We’re now able to do virtual market appraisals for those wanting to know the value of their homes.
“A sale was completed in Richmond entirely online this week where a buyer offered, negotiated and agreed the sale via a virtual tour – if you’d asked me a week ago if that was going to be a thing, I would’ve said no.
“The only issue of progressing a sale is getting mortgage valuations, but some lenders have agreed to do ‘desktop valuations’ to avoid sending someone out.”
Dexters founder Jeff Noble said they had seen a surge in demand from NHS employees looking for short-term flexible lets until testing becomes more widely available.
Mr Noble said: “In the last 10 days, we’ve accommodated several groups of NHS staff across London, including Richmond, who have chosen to live away to protect their families from possible infection.
“We can only do this via remote viewings using a web-based tool, or even using Face Time or Whatsapp can give someone a good idea about a property.”
Since the restrictions, Dexters have helped over 2,000 customers with their pre-arranged home moves and their virtual viewing tool has led to over 2,000 more people ready to move as soon as they are lifted.
In addition to virtual viewing tools, Knight Frank Richmond office head James Williams described the practical and technological steps his team are taking, including its blog explaining practical guidance about the government’s instructions on moving home.
Mr Williams said: “Whilst the property market in Richmond is in shutdown, we can’t conduct viewings, but we are able to connect with our customers like never before and have had some exceptional, walk-through property tours with prospective purchasers.
“We generally start with a Google map or street view to provide an overview of the location and local amenities. We then move into the house and provide a virtual tour of the property through the photos and floor plans we have.
“Some of our clients are preparing their own house videos to add to the website, or we can keep them on file to share with interested parties.”