Like many industries over the last 12 months, especially one that has been built on face-to-face meetings, real estate has had to adapt to survive and utilizing the latest technology has become essential for us to succeed in the new normal.
In particular and now more than ever as we find ourselves in the midst of a 3rd lockdown, virtual reality (VR) is one of the most effective tools available and here’s why:
For tours, VR can provide a 360-degree view of a property, 3D floor plans, and an interactive experience of the location.
Prospective buyers and renters can view properties directly from devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones anywhere in the world.
VR tours can help prospective applicants immediately envision themselves in the home – it allows people to explore a property in detail and to actively engage with what they see in their own time.
People don’t have to physically see the property to be convinced to make an offer.
VR allows estate agents to have a 24/7 open house, with no restrictions on viewings – ultimately maximizing your exposure!
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in both an aversion to human contact where possible and increased familiarity with digital tools. When buying or renting a house, people are therefore better prepared to complete the whole process online and VR makes this how process much more transparent, as buyers/renters are fully aware of the condition, size, and location of the home from the very start.
As an industry leader, we have fully embraced the use of VR and see this becoming an integral part of our industry, even after the pandemic is behind us. With restrictions across the capital likely to strengthen over the coming weeks, maybe days, it is essential that you are best prepared for what lies ahead and while estate agents can still show property for now, there is every possibility this might change. If agents aren’t able to show property and applicants can only view properties online then without a proper VR tour available, there is every possibility you could find yourself with a vacant property and no income.
Get in touch with us now to speak about this further and get a quote for your home!
The effects on the property market due to Covid-19 have been clear; with the country on lockdown since the end of March there has certainly been less activity across the UK housing market. However, since the lockdown measures were lifted for estate agents last month, we have seen an increase in lettings activity and it’s clear that people are preparing themselves for life after lockdown – a massive boost for the lettings market and one we certainly all needed!
At UK SIR, we saw lettings enquiries increase by over 130% from April to May, echoing our predictions of pent up demand during the lockdown period which put almost everything property related on hold. This huge increase is partly due to the fall in demand we saw at the end of March, but this is an extremely positive change and a sign that demand for rental properties is growing much more than sales.
Despite this returning demand and rise in enquiries, while rents initially remained fairly steady, new reports suggest that achieved rent levels look likely to come down and we have already seen Landlords accepting lower offers to ensure they have a tenant and eliminate any vacancy period even if this means taking a lower rent. June through to September is typically the busiest period of the year for lettings agents but with travel restrictions still in place, we have seen hardly any corporate relocations since Q1 and the uncertainty for students surrounding their studying means the flurry of international students we normally see at this time of the year is down as well. With that said, people will always need a place to live and with the wider impact of Covid-19 on the sales market, we expect to see more would be buyers filling the void and opting to rent instead with lettings being a more stable option as the long term effects of this pandemic become more clear. For that reason I expect the lettings market to remain buoyant with more activity predicted over the following months.
Those who are looking are planning for every eventuality and the lock-down has put peoples living situations into perspective with many revaluating what they actually need and what’s most important to them. Many of the enquiries we are now seeing have requests for outside space and a home working space which shows the shift in people’s needs as working from home for many is likely to continue for some time. With the fear this could happen again at the back of many people’s minds, they want to know they are prepared for another lock-down and have the most comfortable home environment possible.
This is also evident through the increase in activity from our Country Office. The demand for country rental properties is still strong with many London families looking to either up sticks and relocate to more rural areas with good connections into London or to acquire a second home where they can all live more comfortably without feeling on top of each other in their smaller London residences which might have little to no outside space. With the “staycation” also expected to be more popular this summer with families opting to stay in the UK rather than take the risk of traveling abroad, we expect to see many people taking out short-term holiday lets with houses coming with pools and tennis courts being the most popular.
During the lockdown it was important that we did not become complacent and were there to support our clients throughout this difficult time. While the country was on lockdown we continued to advise and prepare our landlords for when the lockdown is lifted. This was a great opportunity for many of them to get their properties ready whether that be finishing off the renovations, tidying up the garden or as we saw for many – organising virtual reality tours of their homes. We wanted to ensure we were putting our clients in the best possible position to capitalise on the returning activity as soon as social distancing measures were lifted and it was thanks to this effort that meant we were ready come 13th May, with multiple offers already agreed.
Abbey Lodge is a uniquely historical house in a desirable location. The house has a rich history, and dates predominantly from the 15th and 16th centuries. Farthinghoe is a rural south Northamptonshire village close to the border of north Oxfordshire. The village has a primary school, The Fox public house/restaurant, repair garage and parish church. There is good communication with intercity train services from Bicester North to London Marylebone and access to the M40 at either J10 for the south or J11 for the north.
Enjoy your first view of this traditional country house set within 12 acres from the gravelled sweeping driveway, the solid wooden door giving access to the traditional hall with flagstone floors and high ceilings, step into a cosy TV room with comfy armchairs, cushions and colourful throws, the perfect space to lose yourself in a movie. Passing back through the dining hall a larger lounge warmed by the open fire, welcomes you with comfortable seating for all that come to stay. The indoor pool with heated pool and changing rooms is perfect whatever the season with by folding doors that open onto the gardens.
This luxury farmhouse is the perfect place from which to explore the rolling Cotswold countryside whilst still being close to the market towns of Witney, Woodstock and the City of Oxford. The farm has plenty of space with 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 3 reception rooms and a superb Johnny Grey designed kitchen. New Yatt is a small village situated 2 miles from the bustling market town of Witney. Woodstock and Blenheim Palace are 7 miles away and the “city of dreaming spires” Oxford 12 miles.
Presenting this modern two-bedroom, two-bathroom first floor lateral apartment with a large semi-open plan living room complete with a modern bespoke kitchen. The apartment is beautifully presented having been recently redecorated throughout and further benefits from access to a balcony from the living room. Turner House is perfectly located in the heart of Covent Garden and is moments from the Covent Garden Piazza benefiting from the plethora of shops, bars and restaurants the area has to offer.
This regulation will affect new private residential tenancies from 1st July 2020 and all other tenancies already in existence from 1st April 2021. Currently, this level of regulation only applies to licensed House of Multiple Occupancies (HMO).
Properties let on statutory periodic tenancies where the fixed term expires between July 2020 and April 2021 will require an inspection and test at this point under the regulations. For statutory periodic tenancies – where on expiry of the fixed term the tenancy rolls over into a periodic tenancy automatically by statute (rather than by contract) – the periodic tenancy would be a new tenancy.
There are some tenancies that will be excluded from the new regulation; social or resident landlord, long leases or tenancies granting a right of occupation of seven years of more, student lettings in halls, tenancies granted to occupiers of hostels, refuge care homes, hospitals or hospice. All electrical wiring and fixed electrical installations will need to be signed off and reported by a qualified electrician.
This report will be required to be shown at the beginning of every new tenancy and renewed at least every five years or earlier if any electrics or fixed electrical installations are altered or changed by the landlord. If the report highlights any issues, the landlord will be required to remedy these within 28 days or sooner dependent on the recommendations contained within the report.
If landlords don’t comply with the recommendations made in the report and this is reported to the Local authority they have the power to issue a fine of up to £30,000. They will also be granted the power to carry out any required works and seek to impose the costs of such actions onto the Landlord. It is more likely that they will serve a further notice of 28 days in order for Landlords to carry out the specified works before imposing any further actions and potential fines.
An Electrical Installation condition report (EICR) is a report carried out to assess the safety of the existing electrical installation within a property and is used to describe its condition. Parts of the system that are reported on include consumer units, protective bonding, lighting, switches and sockets etc.
The EICR will be graded Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory and will detail a list of observations affecting the safety or improvements required.
Questions about Property Management
These observations will be supported by codes
Unsatisfactory codes are:
C1 – DANGER PRESENT, RISK OF INJURY, IMMEDIATE REMEDIAL ACTION
These regulations do not place any defined requirements on fixed portable electrical appliances provided by the landlord, however due to the awful tragedy of Grenfell it is recommended to all my landlords.
Covid-19 Pandemic vs. New EICR Regulations
If landlords can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duties under the regulation
you will not be in breach of the duty. You could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications with your tenants and with electricians as you’ve tried to arrange the work.
Sotheby’s International Realty presents this one-bedroom serviced apartment (approx 615 sq.ft) situated on the ground floor located in the heart of Marylebone.
This apartment comprises a open plan living area set with a plush custom-made sofa, handwoven vintage Berber rug, and Hans Wagner wing chair. Generous built-in walnut wood shelving houses a 43” Smart TV and selection of art coffee table books. For the musically inclined there is a turntable, Marshal Bluetooth Speaker and handpicked selection of records. The dining area, set with vintage Arkana table and four original Eames Bikini dining chairs, leads into a spacious, fully equipped kitchen that looks out onto the mews. A well-appointed bathroom has a bath and shower combination and a hidden cupboard that houses a combined washer/dryer. Towards the back of the apartment, the bedroom has a super king bed, generous built-in wardrobe space, and benefits from a large window that looks out onto a planted courtyard.
Weymouth Mews is located in the heart of Marylebone High Street owned by The Howard de Walden Estate. Ideally located moments from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, yet a Village atmosphere offering an array of shops, restaurants and cafes. Nearby Marylebone Station and Bond Street Underground Station.
Diana Tran, MARLA
Associate Director, Central London – Residential Lettings
During this period of Stay At Home and social distancing, doing our day jobs and showing people around your homes in person is no longer possible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t showcase your home and introduce it to perspective tenants and buyers. With the high-quality cameras available on most modern smartphones, shooting your own home video walk through or conducting live video calls couldn’t be easier, so I wanted to share some tips and advice to guide you through making your own videos so you can help us help you! Click on the images below to explore.
1. Remove all the clutter
The golden rule of home staging: get rid of all the clutter in your home. All floors and surfaces should be clutter-free and now that you have the time, your cupboards should be neatly organised. Storage is a big requirement and prospective Tenants are likely to ask to see inside.
2. Good lighting is essential
Make sure curtains are pulled right back and blinds right up to allow for plenty of light to flood your rooms. You also want to make sure you are shooting your video or arranging your video call during the day rather than at night to really show off the natural light in your home. For any darker rooms or spaces, turn on a light to help brighten them up.
3. Leave doors open
This is a great way for light to get into those darker areas of the home like corridors. Keep doors wide open so you can easily manoeuvre through the property and don’t have to worry about that creaky hinge interrupting you when filming.
4. Make your bed look inviting
It might sound obvious but plump up pillows and cushions and put a throw over the end of the bed for added cosiness. Given that the average human sleeps for 8 hours a day, this is a room they will use a lot.
5. Don’t ignore the outside areas
Coming from an agent who has done plenty of these myself, a true tour starts with a view from the street as ‘curb appeal’ means a lot to people. If the property has a garden or balcony, make sure you show that and not simply through the window as this is a key asset and often comes at a premium for any prospective tenant or buyer and should be emphasised in your video.
6. Camera settings
Check to see whether your phones video is set to the highest quality setting as a low-quality video will just frustrate the viewer. Remember, if someone is going to make an offer relying entirely on your video, they must be able to clearly see the content.
7. Know your route through the home
If you are recording a video of your home, have an idea of your route before you start filming, so the video runs smoothly with no sudden changes of direction because you’ve missed something.
8. Don’t move too fast!
It’s important you move slow enough for anyone viewing the video or viewing live through a video call to see everything clearly. Do a test run first and view it for yourself so you can see if there’s any areas where you are moving too quickly or not showing something clearly enough.
9. Positioning is everything
When scanning the room, it is important to do this from at least a couple of different positions in the room. I would always advise doing this as soon as you have walked through the door and again from the opposite corner scanning from wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling to show the room in its entirety.
10. Attention to detail
Make sure you highlight and emphasise any unique or charming features of this property as this could be what sets your home out against the rest. Whether it’s a stunning period fireplace, hand painted wallpaper or your home media system – zoom in and share the love as these are great selling points.
Increase in activity of 47% year on year from 2018 to 2019
Our Lettings market has been heavily based on referral business from old and existing clients. The importance of networking has been influential to the development of our business – some of our keys listings have come from contacts made at numerous events we have attended this year.
It’s a challenging market and brokers have had to be very creative and hard working to make deals happen, more so than ever before. Communication with clients has been key – in this challenging market where agents have to put in more effort, it is essential our Landlords hear from us and know what is happening in the market.
Here’s some of our most recent deals we’ve done as we look to finish the year on a high and set ourselves up for a great start to 2020 and the new decade.
Chapel Street – £6,750pw
Camden Hill Gardens – £8,000pw
Duke St. – £3,000pw
Park Lane – £6,500pw
Caroline Terrace – £3,000pw
With the election only days away and the new date for the UK’s departure from Europe being 31st January 2020, there could be a lot of changes happening over the next couple of months and both could have a big impact on the property market as a whole as well as the lettings market so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out and what this will mean for lettings in 2020. As always, we will be resilient and continue to work as hard as ever to give not only our clients, but our customers the best possible experience and service.