Virtual viewings likely to fall under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

While physical viewings are now permissible, in some cases they may not be possible or advisable, and the likelihood is that virtual viewings will remain an essential method of viewing property even after the coronavirus emergency.

According to Paul Offley, Group Compliance Officer at epropservices, parent company of The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country, virtual viewings are likely to become part of the new normal going forward.

“There are many benefits to virtual viewings such as the speed of being able to arrange a ‘viewing’, efficiency for all parties resulting in applicants only completing a physical viewing on properties that are on their individual ‘hot list’ and whilst meeting government guidance in keeping face-to-face meetings to a minimum to prevent spreading of Covid-19.”

Offley says that as changes to the way properties are shown and marketed have developed, so has the need for new regulations to ensure that consumers are protected in this new environment.

“With virtual viewings and pre-recorded property viewings now used as part of the commercial practice by estate and lettings agents, it is likely to be considered as such under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

“With this in mind, Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards in partnership with The Property Ombudsman and Propertymark have recently sent a Primary Authority Advice document providing guidance in regard to conducting virtual viewings.”

“The document highlights agent’s responsibilities during a viewing and representation made during any video footage.”

Read the Primary Advice here.

 

Agents warned of consumer complaint risks from virtual viewings

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2 Comments

  1. Chris Wood

    Whilst I’ll declare an interest as an owner of a business that creates interactive VR tours, I’d add my thoughts to this post.

    If you’re conducting virtual viewings using a mobile phone or camera, record and save the video including any audio from you and the potential buyer (inform them that you will be doing this).

    If you’re using a VR virtual tour on your website, use an operator who uses a system that cannot be post edited except for additional content such as in-tour information points. Why? This protects you from allegations of photoshopping details or possible problems out from buyers/ tenants.

    As with all content, if you include (and you really should) in-tour content, either have a system in place to ensure any changes are updated immediately or, link content via an in-tour URL to external content/ e.g. web page that is auto updated (e.g. the property’s listing page on your own website).

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  2. Barry Lester

    First I must declare an interest in true stereoscopic 360° virtual tours or viewings as an evangelist for a company that has developed its own camera rig and backend software. 
    Currently there is massive confusion over what is and isn’t a true virtual viewing or tour. The dictionary definition says “not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so” 
    So a true virtual tour isn’t video chat, a simple video or a picture carousel, by far the most widely used and recognised virtual tours are in fact Google’s Street view. 
    True 360° Virtual Tours are made up of multiple images taken by a special camera or generated by a computer and joined together within an interface (special software). Tours can then be viewed on any Internet browser or 360° headset. 
    The best virtual tours allow negotiators to virtually accompany clients on property viewings, zooming in and out of every room from every angle in intimate detail as if viewing in person answering questions as the call proceeds. 
    From a best practice point of view you wouldn’t tell a client the front door key is under the matt let your self in and have a look around! Accompanying clients will build a trusted relationship helping avoid disputes at a later date. 
    The Primary Advice issued by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards in partnership with The Property Ombudsman and Propertymark referred to in this article specifically refers to video not Virtual Viewings or Tours. 
    I hope this helps.

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