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Cambridgeshire agency claims ‘world’s first virtual open house’

Thomas Morris Estate Agents has claimed the world’s first ‘virtual open house’ property viewing. 

The firm carried out the event via the app Periscope, a social media platform recently acquired by Twitter which allows users to broadcast a live stream around the world.

Simon Bradbury, a Director at Thomas Morris, held the event from the property in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. A total of 54 viewers tuned in live, with ten watching subsequent replays. The traditional open house, which occurred after the virtual event, attracted five attendees. 

Bradbury says he was ‘blown away’ with the response and that he was pleasantly surprised not only by the number of virtual viewers, but the level of interaction and questions about the property itself.

Using Periscope, open house viewers can text through questions or features of the property they would like to see. The fact that these requests can be dealt with immediately is where the value lies, according to Bradbury. 

He says, however, that he does not see this form of open house replacing its traditional counterpart and that the virtual event will act as a ‘trailer’ and pre-advert for the open house itself. 

“There is still a need for a person to physically view a property before buying it. In 30 years I have only been involved in one sale where the buyer did not see the property in the flesh beforehand,” says Bradbury.

In March online estate agent SellMyHome carried out a virtual walkthrough of a property for sale via Facebook. Thomas Morris is claiming the world’s first open house, however, as its event was streamed completely live and included the agent taking questions from prospective buyers.   

Thomas Morris has confirmed that it is planning to carry out virtual open house events for a number of its rental properties. Bradbury also said that he is aiming to carry out a similar event, via Periscope, with the vendor present, taking questions from viewers. 

The Cambridgeshire agency will also be using Periscope to connect with and promote local businesses. Just yesterday Bradbury used the app to broadcast a charity bet placed at Huntingdon Racecourse.

“By showing support for our local communities, giving them a voice and an opportunity to publicise their services, products or good causes, all at no charge, we are able to demonstrate real integration with the local area,” says Bradbury.  

“I really do think that Periscope has a massive future in our business. This is where the future of estate agency is – the very latest technology allowing us to connect directly with local people.”

Cambridgeshire agency claims ‘world’s first virtual open house’

*Graham Norwood is away on annual leave until June 10th. Conor Shilling will be undertaking editorial duties in his absence. Please send any press enquiries to press@estateagenttoday.co.uk. 

  • Rob  Davies

    Love this sort of innovation! No-one's saying it's going to replace an actual viewing, where the buyer physically visits the property in the flesh - Bradbury even says as much - but it's another way of making things more interactive and simpler for busy, time-poor people. Top stuff.

  • Daniel Roder

    With you on this, Rob. The sort of thing estate agency should be taking the lead on. If the tools are there, why not utilise them. No-one is seriously going to buy a house without actually visiting in person - unless they're very brave or stupid - but this is a good way of rooting out the genuine buyers from the waverers. Will save a great deal of time on wasted viewings.

  • Tom  Harrington

    Innovation, innovation, innovations. That's what we need in the industry. This sort of thing is the future, no matter how much some want to bury their heads in the sand.

  • Kelly Evans

    Pointless, overpriced gimmick that does nothing to speed up the sales process. Not surprised online agents and 'innovators' like Rob are proclaiming this to be the best thing sliced bread, not taking into account the time, cost and effort virtual tours need. And then the person still has to visit the property in the flesh anyway - what's the point!!?

  • Rookie Landlord

    In complete agreement, Kelly. Costly, inefficient and a waste of time. When I've used virtual tours before, they've been universally rubbish.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    Ah, Rookie, how did I know an old-timer Luddite like you would be here dismissing anything vaguely new and modern. You know, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And even if it is, we've been doing the same thing for 60 odd years, why change our ways now? If it's going to cost us a bit more but offer our customers a better all-round experience - well, the clear winner is...cutting costs.

    @Kelly, how do you know it's pointless and overpriced? Have you ever tried a virtual tour before? Tip - they're actually surprisingly good. I think you're just allowing your hatred of anything online to cloud your judgement. I'm assuming you're relatively young, you should be embracing new technology like this, not outrightly denigrating it.

  • Algarve  Investor

    @ Rookie - and when I've used them they've been excellent. So which of us is right?

  • Fake Agent

    No use getting through to people like Rookie or Kelly - they're too set in their ways.

  • Richard White

    The property equivalent of online dating. Everyone is pretty much agreed that you wouldn't buy a property on the back of a virtual viewing anymore than you'd marry someone without meeting them, so what exactly is the point?

    I absolutely agree in the importance of innovation, but not if it is innovation for innovations sake. If the net result is that it adds nothing to your business or the experience of your customers, why would you do it?

    I'm just off to paint myself purple and stand upside down on Tower Bridge whilst blowing a harmonica with my bottom. It's a world first, don't you know?

  • Karl Knipe

    Yes, Richard, innovation for innovation's sake should not always be welcomed. I don't think this is a bad idea at all, and I'm open to new types of technology, but there has to be a balanced approach. Does the end justify the means? Is it cost-effective? It's all very well having all these new innovations, but have we yet worked out if they aid in the process of selling houses?

  • Tim Gorgulu

    Totally agree, Richard. If the virtual tours don't add anything to your business then it would be foolish to take something on just because it's seen as the modern and forward-thinking thing to do. Then it just become a gimmick.

  • Tim Gorgulu

    @ Jon Tarry, just because you think virtual tours isn't right for your business, doesn't mean you're some sort of Luddite. I keep an open mind about all new technology. I think this is a good idea, but I'm not sure how cost-effective or efficient it really is. These are the things I most have to take into consideration, for mine and my customers sake.

  • Jamie  Humm

    Sounds good to me. Never understand why estate agents are so resistant to change and innovation - embrace the technology, don't be afraid of it!

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