Agents that list properties with Zoopla will soon have access to free virtual viewing technology after the portal teamed up with FocalAgent to offer the service.
The new partnership, which enables agents to offer guided viewings of their listed properties to consumers, comes at a time when many parts of the country face harsher coronavirus restrictions.
The new service will initially be available to a limited number of agents during a pilot, with a view to allowing agents to conduct safe but effective virtual viewings for any of their properties listed on Zoopla, with consumers able to look around a property using the existing 2D photography or more immersive virtual viewings using 360 photography or tours.
There will also be access to tailored packages with professional photography and 360 tours to provide a more immersive virtual viewing experience.
During the pilot, eligible agents will be invited to sign up for free access to Smart Viewing, a platform that provides interactive, agent-led virtual viewings, in which the agent guides the applicant through the property with voice and webcam.
Agents will be able to select any one of their properties listed on Zoopla to view in real time, based on applicant requirements, but also switch between properties and do multiple viewings in one go to tailor viewings efficiently to applicant preferences.
The entry level offering, Focal.Free, will require the agent to use the existing photography supplied with the listing to drive the virtual viewing, or the option to create a DIY 360 tour experience from these using the Vieweet app, which is free to Zoopla agents.
Additionally, agents will be offered bolt on packages to upgrade their listings with virtual viewings including Focal.360, which includes a professional 360 tour, or Focal.Pro which in addition includes a full set of professional photography, video trailers, professional 360 tour and floor plans.
Andy Marshall, Zoopla’s chief commercial officer, commented: “At Zoopla, our focus is always on how we can innovate and provide additional value to our agent partners and consumers. Our new partnership with FocalAgent is testament to that commitment – not least because we are the first portal to offer agents the technology to offer free virtual viewings on all of their listings.
“By enjoying free access to the Smart Viewing platform, agents can provide homemovers with a best-in-class virtual viewing experience, and an alternative to physical viewings, which is crucial when the threat of Covid means that many homemovers and agents may be hesitant to tour a property in person. It was important to us that the technology offered agents the opportunity to ‘guide’ and tailor their tours – as it helps build a rapport with each consumer and to refine what they’re looking for.
“Given our commitment to make life easier for agents and consumers, we are excited to see the results of the pilot. Virtual viewing technology implemented internationally has proved to be a resounding success, and a means with which to confirm a prospective buyer’s interest before going to see the property in person. If that success translates to the initial pilot, we will be looking to expand this partnership with FocalAgent and offer these benefits to all Zoopla agents across the length and breadth of the UK.”
Given that the virtual viewings will be controlled by the agent, consumers should get the best possible experience which achieves two things, according to Lee Wainwright, CEO at FocalAgent.
He said: “Firstly, it increases the genuine interest of a potential tenant or buyer who has the opportunity to ask the questions pertinent to them and their situation. Secondly, Smart Viewing reduces [and in some cases can replace] the need for physical viewings.
“This platform has been tremendously successful for our partners both during and post lockdown. Innovation is extremely important to Zoopla and Focal. and this partnership is going to create real value for estate agents and consumers.”