‘Virtual viewings need to be regulated’

There is a need for regulations to ensure consumers are protected when viewing properties virtually, said Paul Offley, group compliance officer at epropservices, parent company of The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country.

He reckoned it’s likely virtual viewings will be an essential method of viewing property after the coronavirus emergency.

Offley said: “With virtual viewings and pre-recorded property viewings now used as part of the commercial practice by estate and lettings agents, it is likely to be considered as such under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

“With this in mind, Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards in partnership with The Property Ombudsman and Propertymark have recently sent a Primary Authority Advice document providing guidance in regard to conducting virtual viewings.

“The document highlights agent’s responsibilities during a viewing and representation made during any video footage.”

He added: “There are many benefits to virtual viewings such as the speed of being able to arrange a ‘viewing’, efficiency for all parties resulting in applicants only completing a physical viewing on properties that are on their individual ‘hot list’ and whilst meeting government guidance in keeping face-to-face meetings to a minimum to prevent spreading of Covid-19.”

epropservices has launched an online guided viewing service called Smart View, which uses existing 2D or 360 photography of a property listing to create an online virtual viewing.

Agents can pre-book appointments or ‘go live’ immediately and show a prospective tenant or buyer a range of properties from the safety of their own home.