- Estate agents have not been granted essential status during the Covid-19 crisis
- House hunters are not allowed to visit properties which are up for sale in the UK
- Software companies have developed 3D systems to allow ‘virtual viewings’
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Estate agents are being forced to rely on 3D interactive tours because of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Traditionally, estate agents would arrange a time for people to view a property and walk them around the building.
However, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the threat of spreading Covid-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned face-to-face tours.
Estate agents are offering 3D virtual viewings using special software in an effort to keep the property market moving during the coronavirus lockdown
The agent can take several 3D photographs in each room which are stitched together using special software, which also creates a floor plan, to give the buyer a better idea of the building’s layout
Several major London-based property firms are using the technology, which is hosted by companies such as Matterport
Instead of taking a customer around a property, the agent can use a special 3D camera to take photographs in each room.
To ensure full coverage, several photographs are taken in each room.
The images are then fed into a special software application which allows someone to take a virtual tour. The guest is able to spin around and see everything the camera is able to view.
How does the 3D walkthrough technology work?
An agent takes several photographs in each room of a property using a 3D camera, ideally using a tripod so they are not included in the frame.
The images are then stitched together using special software which allows the end user to navigate from room-to-room.
Also, because the images are 3D, the user can scroll in all directions, looking towards the ceiling or the floor from any photograph.
Also, people with virtual reality headsets can use their phones and special goggles to provide a fully immersive visit.
Advanced versions of the software can even generate floor plans, allowing the user to get a better idea of the layout of the house
Or, for the more technically advanced house hunter, it is possible to take a full virtual tour using a VR headset.
James Morris-Manuel of Matterport said requests for its property scanning service have increased by 700 per cent over the past weeks.
He told the Evening Standard: ‘People have suddenly realised they need to digitise assets they may not be able to access for quite a while. The UK market was watching Spain and Italy and realised that shutdowns and more aggressive forms of social distancing were coming soon and they needed to get their house in order.’
Some other agents are trying to use walk through videos where someone films a piece to camera while showing off a property.
However, the coronavirus pandemic is bound to have an impact on the housing market.
The most recent survey from Nationwide Building Society – which took figures from before the epidemic – showing the price of an average house in the UK was £219,583, an increase of three per cent on March 2019.
James Morris-Manuel of Matterport, who developed the software, said requests for its property scanning service have increased by 700 per cent over the past weeks
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: ‘Annual house price growth increased to 3 per cent in March, up from 2.3per cent the previous month – the fastest pace since January 2018 (when annual growth was 3.2 per cent).
‘The last six months have all seen month-on-month increases, after taking account of seasonal effects.
‘It is important to note that, while we use a full month’s worth of data to generate the index, the cut-off point is slightly before the end of the month.
‘This means that developments following the UK Government’s lockdown will not be reflected in these figures.
‘Housing market activity is now grinding to a halt as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus, and where the Government has recommended not entering into housing transactions during this period.
‘Indeed, a lack of transactions will make gauging house price trends difficult in the coming months.
‘The medium-term outlook for the housing market is also highly uncertain, where much will depend on the performance of the wider economy.’