Struggling to find time to go on rental viewings? Let your smartphone or tablet do the hard work instead...

What's the latest?

Live video calling services, Skype and FaceTime, are transforming London’s letting market as renters opt for new 'virtual' property viewings over attending in person.

Fizzy Living, the private rental landlord in London, has seen a “steep rise” in requests for its online service this year. And 20% of viewings across its four available developments have been carried out via tablets and smartphones in the last six months.

On 10 separate cases, customers signed on the dotted line without ever seeing the homes in person.

Why is it happening?

London’s housing shortage has created a fast-moving rental market, according to Sophie Lau, marketing manager for Fizzy Living.

She explained: "For our customers, the online experience still has the personal interaction of a traditional viewing plus it saves them time and hassle – which is what it’s all about for us.”

Couple looking at tablet. 

Who does it affect?

Renters are mainly graduates or young professionals in their 20s and 30s who are used to doing things online. Signing a lease after a remote viewing is “not a big deal”.

It's also popular with people living overseas and relocating to London. The service has started to catch on with time-poor Londoners too.

Sounds interesting. What's the background?

Skype and FaceTime are not the only shows in town. Periscope and Meerkat are two live streaming services that are making waves in the property market. They can also be used to conduct live viewings and open house events.

"The experience still has the personal interaction of a traditional viewing plus it saves them time and hassle – which is what it’s all about for us.”

Drones are being used too, particularly for large country estates. That’s because the small remote control helicopters with video cameras attached can offer a bird’s eye view of what’s up for grabs. Though not necessarily live, drones can offer potential renters or buyers alike panoramic footage of the property and grounds as well as the neighbourhood.

Drones are also useful for properties that are hard to reach, allowing interested people to get a good feel for what’s on offer before making the journey.

Top 3 takeaways

  • Up to 20% of Fizzy Living’s viewings since July were carried out remotely.
  • Overseas customers, graduates and young professionals as well as time-poor Londoners are leading the way.
  • The trend for online viewings is set to increase as services and products evolve.

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Image of couple looking at tablet: copyright Jacob Lund.

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