How to buy a property using remote viewings

March 2021 : Investec

It can still be possible to find an investment opportunity using online technology if you can’t or don’t want to travel.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, ongoing travel restrictions have made finding a property a more complex process for investors. This is especially the case for those based overseas.

However, some buyers are purchasing real estate remotely with help from expert property search agents who become their advisors on the ground. Leading agency Aykroyd & Co, has helped Investec clients to secure their ideal property. Here, its Managing Director Hannah Aykroyd gives her view on how to find the right investment opportunity.

1. Work with partners you trust

Property is a relationship business, and we know that purchases are emotionally driven, even for investors. For that reason, trust is key to getting things done in challenging circumstances.

We recently completed a remote purchase for clients based in America. We developed a strong sense of what they were looking for and had spent two full days with them in person, where we viewed 13 UK properties together.

With this grounding, we were able to send the clients detailed videos of new properties once they had returned home. Many of these properties were sourced off-market thanks to our experience and contacts within the industry. We guided the clients through live virtual viewings until we found the best-in-class first-floor, two-bedroom apartment in South Kensington that they purchased.

When you’re not based locally it’s even more vital to work with a team that has a deep understanding of your needs. This sensitivity is required from all partners – from solicitors to surveyors – and of course, the financial team that you choose.

Aykroyd & Co works with Investec clients regularly through its private banking team and our strong working relationship is proving to be fundamental during the pandemic.

2. Do live viewings
When it comes to virtual viewings, detail is crucial. We always look inside cabinets, out of bedroom windows and into courtyards – everywhere but under the bed.

If you have time, it’s useful to do these tours ‘live,’ instead of using a pre-recorded video as it will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. You can ask to see the interior of a wardrobe, for example, or the ceiling of a bathroom – and this level of insight can help give you the confidence to make an investment decision.

3. Remember that technology has its drawbacks
When inside a property, we focus on providing a high-quality video experience. Video tours must be done in daylight and they must give a detailed and accurate sense of all aspects of the property.

That said, the virtual property market is not perfect. While video-calling technology has helped many businesses transition to a virtual workplace, property transactions are both personal and substantial so require greater focus.

For this reason, we encourage clients to visit properties for a first viewing if they can, before using technology for later visits and facilitating transactions.

4. Understand what is going on in the market

Buying agents have a responsibility to keep you informed of what is happening in the market.

For example, the UK stamp duty holiday has been extended on the first £500,000 of a purchase until 30th June, which equates to a £15,000 saving. However, on 1 April 2021, a 2% levy was applied to UK property purchases made by overseas buyers.

We monitor prices in the market as part of our service. This includes keeping in touch with vendors whose circumstances might change and ensuring you never pay more than a property in worth.

5. Find the right financial partner

Once you’ve found a property, an efficient financial transaction helps secure it. In order for us to negotiate firmly, we offer speed as a key tactic, which helps to reassure the vendor of your focus and commitment.

We work with many successful individuals with complex incomes and we need lenders to be flexible and pro-active, while adhering to tight deadlines. From partnering with Investec, we know the team can take a holistic view of wealth – including foreign currency income – and support you with each step of the process.

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