Edinburgh estate agents sell homes without in-person viewings

Estate agents have had to offer new options during the crisis.

Estate agents in Edinburgh have been forced to come up with creative solutions to sell properties during lockdown, including to buyers who have never set foot in their new home.

With social distancing guidelines ruling out in-person house viewings, several estate agents operating in the Capital have moved to offer virtual lookarounds.

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These take different forms including live video tours with the seller, pre-recorded videos, or 360 degree video tours.

One couple put in an offer which has been accepted on a property in Hillend which they have not visited.

Christopher Bredin, 31 and Katie Thomson, 28, put in an offer three weeks ago with Boyd Property after taking a virtual tour on video with the seller.

They had originally planned to look for a new home after their wedding in the summer, but due to the pandemic their wedding has been cancelled, and equine vet Katie had more time for househunting since she has been furloughed.

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“The place just looked great. We thought we would hold off until after the lockdown, but we spoke to Boyd and they were really helpful. They advised us to put in an offer now, as right now the competition is low,” said Ms Thomson.

“We took a virtual tour – the owner had a phone or an iPad and walked us around pretty thoroughly. The only problem was the WiFi connection in the garden, but we managed to get a good view from inside.”

“We got a pretty good idea of it. We couldn’t quite appreciate the size of the rooms, but the floor plan is pretty detailed,” added Mr Bredin.

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The couple had also been able to catch a glimpse of the property from the outside while out on walks.

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The sale is subject to the sale of the couple’s current flat, and there is the option to pull out of the deal once they have been able to see the property in person.

“All our friends think we’re mad,” said Ms Thomson.

“I am a bit nervous, but I think it will be what we expected. It’s such a god location for us and it seems perfect.”

Kerry Wells, Property Sales Director at Boyd Property, has noted a couple of offers being made without in-person viewings.

Eileen Henderson, Senior Sales Consultant at Blackadders LLP, said she had seen two examples of buyers making offers based on virtual house viewings.

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One offer was made by an overseas by-to-let investor who did a live video viewing with the seller, and another offer was made subject to a final in-person viewing by a buyer looking to upsize, who viewed a pre-recorded video.

Stacey Wilson of VMH Solicitors added that the firm had received four offers through virtual viewings, two from first-time buyers and subject to in-person viewings, and two from investors which were not subject to a physical viewing.

Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, said: “These examples of buyers making offers after viewing a property virtually, highlights that there is continued demand and that the public have responded well to these innovative measures.”

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