With the country still in partial lockdown, many agents are turning to virtual viewings to showcase the rental properties on their books. Just like in-person viewings, virtual viewings need to adhere to a number of professional standards. While virtual viewings have been around for a while, its usage has only become commonplace recently. Many agents are, therefore, falling foul of certain professional standards unknowingly, leaving The Property Ombudsman concerned. So when it comes to virtual viewings, either live or pre-recorded, what should agents be aware of?
Sales is about two-way dialogues
Some agents are falling into the trap of thinking of virtual viewing as a marketing tool when the reality is it should be more of a two-way conversation. Don’t try solely to convey the best information about the property; think about what a tenant would ask at an actual viewing. Demonstrating how the over-the-tub shower works and where the gas meter is located is more valuable than putting together a flashy advertorial.
There's no room for Don Draper here
You have to be accurate. While it can be tempting, it’s vital that agents make no attempt to inflate a property’s positives at the risk of accuracy. Generalised statements like ‘a stone’s throw from local amenities’ should be replaced with concrete facts such as ‘a three-minute walk to the nearest supermarket’.
Perfection can be cause for suspicion
TPO is emphasising the importance of including the negative as well as the positive. Advertising a property without referencing any quirks or potential issues can be seen as a ‘misleading omission’, which can have repercussions for Trading Standards.
Pre-recorded videos will lose accuracy over time
It is not enough to rely on statements made or provided by the landlord and you could be considered negligent if you do not check their accuracy. Pre-recorded videos should carry a warning that the information contained within was accurate at the time of recording but may subsequently have changed, and always advise prospective buyers and renters to conduct further checks, such as booking a live video viewing or in-person viewing (while observing social distancing rules).
Channel your inner TV presenter
The best way to counteract concerns about consumer protection and accurate representation is to focus less on pre-recorded virtual viewings and endeavour to conduct more live video viewings. Live video viewings are considerably more effective as they allow an agent to foster a dialogue with a prospective tenant. They also give a much more representative view of the property, leading to far less likelihood of misunderstandings or anybody being misled.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions related to issues in this article, we strongly advise contacting a legal professional.