Video killed the radio star back in the 1980s. More than 30 years later, it looks like it could do the same to physical property viewings. At least, it will if the latest renter data is anything to go by.
Requests for video viewings soared during the lockdown, with more than 12,000 renters searching video walkthroughs on Movebubble. Covid-19 has accelerated their demand, but even as some form of normality returns in the rental market, desire to see a home through the medium of video remains strong.
So the big question is: do renters now prefer video viewings to physical ones? From our conversations with them, it certainly seems so. But why are the majority of renters favouring virtual viewings over physical ones?
Here's our thoughts...
I see, therefore I rent
Falling in love with a property doesn't happen when you first step foot inside; it happens the second you lay your eyes on it. And a video only enhances that "love at first sight" moment - to the point where renters will feel more comfortable making an instant offer.
Being able to see an in-depth video of a potential new home only increases confidence. Video viewings were the last piece of the missing jigsaw for property listings, and they add a new dimension to the property-viewing experience.
If the video walkthrough presentation is of a high level, an increasing number of renters will be inclined to make an offer without going to see it physically. As a result, the time it takes to go from viewing to getting the keys will cut down dramatically.
Video viewings appeal to tech-savvy renters
An increasing number of renters aren't just tech-savvy; they integrate the use of technology into their lives seamlessly. For them, being able to see a property via a video walkthrough is a natural evolution, and a feature that should be available with all marketed homes.
Banking, streaming, ordering food and hailing a ride can all be achieved within a few clicks. Renters expect the same level of ease for securing a home. The use of video viewings facilitates an experience where it's possible to rent a property digitally.
With 60% of London set to rent by 2025, the clamour for video viewings will only grow as an even more significant number of tech-savvy renters enter the market. Even the ones who still want to see a property in person will prefer a video viewing first to qualify their interest.
They're safer in the current climate
Covid-19 isn't so much the elephant in the room as it is the big bad virus that brought the world to its knees for three months. Even as things resume some semblance of normalcy, it will be a while yet before well all come out of the coronavirus shadow.
Physical viewings were already a lengthy process. Now they're set to become even longer as social distancing measures are put into place and properties need thorough cleaning before and after each viewing.
Yet, with video viewings, there are zero risks of catching or passing on the virus. There's no need for social distancing, and renters, agents and landlords don't need to stock up on masks and gloves for each 10-minute walkaround.
Video viewings are all-encompassing
Watching a video of a property wasn't magically cooked up during the lockdown - they've been around for a while. But they always lacked quality because of restraints in technology and the status quo of physical viewings.
However, as smartphone use and tech improved, video walkthroughs were given a platform to shine. On Movebubble, renters can step into each virtual room with a 15-45 second clip that connects through unfiltered viewing.
Videos give renters get a genuine taste of what it's like to live somewhere, including any communal areas. The result is a different type of video experience than was previously available. It's more immersive and appealing to renters.
The king is dead. Long live the king
We believe that by 2025, physical viewings will be a thing of the past, joining flip phones, the 16-bit consoles and Betamax on the scrap heap. The digital revolution is well underway, and renters are showing a clear appetite for going through the entire process of renting a place on their smart device.
Video viewings are the missing piece of the jigsaw that completes the digitisation of the renting process and brings it in line with other tech-savvy industries.