One of the UK’s leading estate agents has revealed how remote, livestreamed viewings have helped it to achieve dozens of property sales in a five-week period.
To find out more, mio interviewed Matt Nicol, managing director of Nicol & Co, which has offices in Droitwich Spa and Worcester in the Midlands.
Q: Have you been able to return to work and reopen or are you still working from home, where possible?
Matt said: “The property industry was allowed to reopen from 13 May, but we chose to go back into the office on 25 May as we had been comfortably working from home.”
Q: What about challenges with viewing properties? In your experience, do people feel safe enough? and are your employees comfortable conducting viewings?
Matt said: “Our experience is that despite the challenges of the lockdown, a lot of people were wanting to view properties, even more than normal.
“Therefore, we took the decision to follow government guidance and continue with virtual first before physical viewings. We introduced Gavl livestream viewings and the results have been superb.
A snapshot provided by Nicol & Co shows that the company conducted 119 livestream viewings between 4 May and 7 June, viewed by nearly 1,400 potential buyers. These buyer engagements developed into 313 private viewings and resulted in a total of 30 sales in the same period.
Matt said: “What we’ve found is that supply is low and demand is high, and that despite COVID-19 now is the perfect time to sell your property.”
Q. What about the availability of PPE?
Matt said: “With PPE safety clothing, we had ordered sufficient early on so had good stock ready for staff returning to work.
“We have since had branded facemasks produced for the staff to have on appointments. And if a client is doing their own viewing, we also supply them with sufficient PPE.”
Q. What happens when a property moves to sold subject to contract (SSTC)? Can it be valued for lending purposes? Can the searches be ordered? And are conveyancers working effectively?
Matt said: “Conveyancers were keen to only focus on only those that could move during lockdown, which we argued was not correct.
“As a result, many other people are now able to exchange as we kept the pressure on to do searches.
“Mortgage surveys are still slow to be booked, and lenders are overwhelmed with the number of new applications, resulting in a big backlog … but we can see that demand is out there in the marketplace.”