Take a look at the Henley Standard property portal
HOW times have changed in the business we call property. Who remembers a lacklustre piece of
HOW times have changed in the business we call property. Who remembers a lacklustre piece of A4 typed on a smudgy typewriter, via snail mail?
Today’s prospective house-hunters can access a property’s information in a nanosecond via their mobile phone — and don’t forget the Henley Standard’s property app which allows you to search by area, price and style of house, for either sales or lettings.
Talking of applications, if you take the time to do some virtual window-shopping you will be able to find apps with everything from showing you how sunny a property will be (Sun Seeker shows you which way a property faces and where the sun will hit at any time of the day), to how easy it is get a signal on your phone (Cell Phone Coverage Mapp helps you check your potential new home’s reception).
And then there’s the internet — font of all knowledge. From websites such as www.allagents.co.uk — said to be “The UK’s largest customer review website” — to agencies’ own websites offering access to everything from a Home Finder Service (Romans), a specific “search” for Country and Riverside properties (Davis Tate), and streamed research-data videos (Savills), today’s house hunters are spoiled for information, as well as choice.
A nod of respect has to be given to the Three Kings of the Realm of Portal: Rightmove, Zoopla and OntheMarket. However, if you want to find local properties for sale with Henley’s property experts in a SINGLE online space, only one place can give you this... the Henley Standard’s well regarded portal at www.henleystandard.co.uk/property/search
But don’t forget that some properties — especially in fast-moving markets such as Henley — will never even make it on to a property portal, or even an agency’s own website, so signing up with your local estate agents personally is essential if you’re house hunting.
Innovation has also taken giant leaps forward inside the business itself with all manner of technology including drone photography and computer generated imagery (CGI).
Nick Warner, a director at Savills in Bell Street, said: “The aim at Savills is always to give the very best and most accurate representation of a property — to the mutual benefit of both the buyer and the seller — and CGIs, videos and accredited drone photography have all been used to great effect on a variety of properties.
“Most recently, at the 2015 Masterpiece Fair [across-collecting fair for art, antiques and design], one of our Surrey team utilised the latest virtual technology in the form of the Oculus Rift headset, to provide a high end virtual tour of a £15 million mansion Savills was marketing.”
As a virtual reality (VR) specialist, Oculus said it “wants to make it possible to experience anything, anywhere, through the power of VR”. It has described its pioneering Rift mask as “the first really professional PC-based VR headset”.
This is a step up from a “virtual viewing” via Skype, and is said to give a much-improved feeling of depth and space. You even get an idea of the atmosphere thanks to recorded sound from outside the house played through additional headphones — essential if you’re worried by plane noise or road noise.
Nick continued: “The Rift mask provides an accurate 360 degree representation of a property, enabling the wearer to feel as if they are actually standing in and moving around the property itself. The obvious advantage to this type of technology is it enables an international purchaser to view without the necessity of boarding a plane.”
VR technology may be exciting but its less-sassy relation, drone photograph, is exceptionally handy, not just for giving a more accurate idea of a property’s dimensions and its surroundings, but also for surveying work.
Survey-wise there are additional time savings in the form of access to tricky places without the use of scaffolding.
A drone-mounted camera takes photographs at predetermined intervals (ranging from one to 30 seconds) together with continuous film footage. The images are very high resolution, enabling the viewer to zoom in and see a high level of detail. They can also be emailed or downloaded on to a USB â?? great for the time-poor, as most of us are.
Vanessa Townsend, Country and Riverside Manager at Davis Tate in Bell Street said: “We use drone photography for our houses in stunning settings, such as Starveall Cottage in Aldworth, which has amazing 360-degree views.
“Using drone photography like this makes the most of the property, showing it in its best light. We also make use of our own camera mast, which has a camera mounted on top.
“You have a viewing screen to look at the image you are taking. CGI images are helpful with new homes brochures when selling off plan.”
Starveall Cottage near Goring, at a guide price of £1,850,000 with Davis Tate, is a pretty and well-maintained five-bedroom period house.
But only drone photography can capture its best feature — the breathtaking views. Peter Hawley, sales manager at Romans in Hart Street, said his agency takes things one step further with the use of drone videos.
“We’re always looking for new ways to market our customer’s properties in the best way,” he said. “From wide-angled, professional photography, to clearly-labelled floor plans and elevated photographs. And video tours with the use of drones and hand-held cameras are the next step in estate agency innovation.
“The professional videos are not only a brilliant indication of what the property and its surroundings are like, but they are put together in an elegant and cinematic way, making these properties stand out in the competitive property environment.”
On the Romans website, these videos are called “Virtual Tour” — you have to click on the “Play” arrow to access the footage. Peter continued: ““These types of video tours have already been frequently used by estate agents in the US. Research has demonstrated that one minute of video is equal to the value of 1.8 million words [Forrester Research], and real estate listings with videos receive 403 per cent more enquiries than those without videos [DigitalSherpa]. “The results and seller feedback we’ve received here so far have been fantastic.” [caption.] Romans says its virtual tours, such as the one of this lovely eight-bedroom detached house in Wargrave, £1,650,000, paint a more thorough portrait of a property compared with still photography