Watch: Agents discuss why viewings will never be the same again

A panel of estate agents recently participated in a webinar to discuss the benefits of livestream open house viewings.

The webinar, part of the Kerfuffle podcast hosted by Simon Whale, included input from Matt Nicol (Director of Nicol & Co Estate Agents), Andrew Craig (Founder of Andrew Craig Estate Agents), Richard Poole (Partner at Michael Poole Estate Agents), and Andrew Dickinson (Owner of Oakwood Homes). Joel Smith, CEO of livestream viewing app Gavl, also took part in the discussion.

The agents discussed the impact livestream viewings have had on their businesses and whether fewer physical viewings will be needed post-pandemic, alongside providing advice to agencies thinking about adopting livestream technology.

You can view the webinar here and below is a summary of the main discussion points.

Agents reveal impressive livestream viewing stats

As part of the discussion, the agents took turns to explain how livestream viewing technology is improving their business, providing some eye-opening figures in the process.

Andrew Craig, whose 10-branch agency operates across the North East, explained the details of a recent lettings property which attracted 10 prospective renters to the livestream viewing, five of which went on to make an offer.

He added that being able to answer all viewers’ questions at once, such as whether the property has a dishwasher and if the landlord accepts pets, is a huge benefit.

Meanwhile, Matt Nicol, who runs a three-branch agency in the Midlands, said his firm would need more staff to carry out viewings if it wasn’t using livestream viewing technology.

Pre-pandemic, his firm employed four members of lettings staff to deal with less stock than three members of staff are now dealing with thanks to the efficiencies provided by online open house viewings.

Andrew Dickinson, whose East Kent agency let 26 properties with no physical viewings in November 2020, shared figures for two properties let in February 2021.

The first livestream viewing attracted 34 viewers, over 30 questions and 16 offers were tabled within 90 minutes of the event. The second attracted 30 viewers, 26 questions and 21 offers within two hours of the livestream finishing.

Dickinson added that his firm carried out 19 physical viewings for every net sale and 18 viewings for every net let in 2019. In 2020, with the help of livestream technology, these figures dropped to 8.1 physical viewings per net sale and two viewings per net let in Q4.

He says since adopting Gavl, his firm has increased market share by 2.4% and reduced base costs by 4.4%.

“When adopting new technology, business owners need to know what problems they’re solving and how they can measure success,” says Joel Smith, Gavl CEO.

“Clear metrics such as time and money saved, market share gained and reduction in number of physical viewings can help agents to measure how well livestream software is working.”

Why are livestream viewings so popular with consumers?

The webinar also covered the various reasons why consumers, including sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants, are seeing the benefits of livestream viewings.

Nicol explained that one prospective seller is currently attending all of his firm’s livestream viewings to get a handle on the local market.

He added that due to the third national lockdown, most consumers don’t want to attend physical viewings unless absolutely necessary, which also works out better for agents from a time and safety perspective.

Richard Poole, whose agency operates across Teesside, said his firm has received numerous positive reviews and social media feedback about livestream viewings.

He added that consumers are mentioning livestream viewings as a talking point, something they’re curious about and likely to remember as a differentiator.

According to Andrew Dickinson, applicants benefit from the safety and efficiency of livestream viewings, while vendors are pleased they don’t have so many people visiting their property.

Landlords, meanwhile, enjoy the quicker results, while existing tenants benefit from less disruption due to physical viewings.

“Livestream viewings provide benefits for all parties involved in a transaction, so using this technology is a win-win for agents,” adds Smith.

“Offering livestream viewings can be a lead generator and instruction winner due to the marketing buzz created, as well as a vastly more efficient process.”

Advice for agents preparing to adopt livestream viewings

To round off the webinar, Simon Whale asked the agents using Gavl what advice they’d give to other firms thinking about adopting livestream technology.

Andrew Craig said it’s important for agency owners and directors to try doing livestream viewings themselves. He added that preparation is key to building confidence, while having a process in place is essential.

Carrying out a dummy run of livestream events to staff is a great way to help agents get used to being in front of the camera, according to Richard Poole. He said that agents can get a feel for how short these viewings can be and really concentrate on what they’re trying to get across to applicants.

Andrew Dickinson said his key piece of advice to other agents it to not give up early. He added that structure and organisation is vital as livestream viewings represent a culture change for all parties involved in a transaction.

“Livestream viewings allow agents to save on their biggest expense: staffing hours spent on processing enquiries and carrying out physical viewings,” Smith concludes.

“With the right processes in place, they can focus their attention on the bottom of the applicant funnel. This results in being able to complete more deals at a quicker rate and providing a better all-round service.”

You can view the full webinar here.