World first claimed as UK agent hosts live ‘virtual open house’

UK agent Thomas Morris is claiming to have held the world’s first live ‘virtual open house’. It did so on the new social media platform Periscope.

The virtual open day attracted more than ten times the number of participants than a physical open day at the same property. It was a genuine open day in that Thomas Morris director Simon Bradbury was actually at the property, showing everything live and answering questions live.

Periscope is a live-streaming video app which allows you to watch and broadcast live video from all across the globe. One of the world’s fastest growing apps in terms of usage, it was acquired from its start-up founders by Twitter in March for $100m.

Followers can interact with the broadcaster by typing in questions and can show their approval by sending a ‘heart’ – the equivalent of a ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ on Facebook or Twitter.

Thomas Morris, which was recently acquired by LSLi, broadcast the live open day from St Neots in Cambridgeshire.

It attracted 54 viewers at the time and a further ten watched a replay.

Bradbury said: “We held the virtual open house just before the traditional open house.

“We had five people turn up for the traditional version and over ten times as many viewed live on line via the Periscope app.

“We were genuinely surprised not only by the number of virtual viewers, but the level of interaction and questions about the property itself.”

Earlier in the day, Thomas Morris had conducted a live broadcast from a local food and drink festival which attracted over 60 live viewers.

Bradbury said: “I really do think that this Periscope app has a massive future in our business – and not just to promote property.

“By showing support for our local communities, giving them a voice and an opportunity to publicise their services, products or good causes, all at no charge, we are able to demonstrate real integration with the local area.

“This is where the future of estate agency is – the very latest technology allowing us to connect directly with local people.”

The property that featured in the open event is now under offer.

The purchaser did not attend either the virtual open event or the physical one: “That would have been absolutely perfect,” said Bradbury. “Nevertheless, I was very impressed by the response we had to our virtual event and the type of questions I was getting – such as how far the property was from the station and about its boiler.

“I will certainly use this again and my current thinking is to use virtual open events as pre-marketing for real open house days. I do think we are going to be hearing a lot more about Periscope and its uses in the next few months.”

A previous virtual open day, which used Facebook, was held at the end of March, but Bradbury said that this was really a virtual walk-through and did not use live streaming.

This is how Eye reported it at the time.

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  1. JAM01

    A traditional estate agent using online technology? It will never catch on…

  2. grantlance

    “The purchaser did not attend either the virtual open event or the physical one”

    Sounds like it was a productive use of his time spending however long doing the virtual tour answering “questions” from colleagues/nosey Twitter followers. Then showing a further 5 people around when presumably the potential purchaser had already got through the door prior to the event?

    Anyway must dash I’m about to conduct my morning meeting by the power of Snap Chat. After that I’ve got a wheel that I’m going to try and re-invent if anyone is free.

  3. clarky46

    Remember a couple of years ago using my iPhone on a viewing to  show the interior to someone’s relative who was abroad. Not as professional as this method but did the trick. Great point of differentiation anyway!

  4. PeeBee

    “Bradbury said: “We held the virtual open house just before the traditional open house.

    “We had five people turn up for the traditional version and over ten times as many viewed live on line via the Periscope app.”

    So… my reading is that, as a result of this online ‘viewing’ malarkey, var nigh fifty people decided not to turn up on the real open day.

    Sounds like a mahoosive FAIL to me, then…

    1. PeeBee

      Okay… not ‘Liking’ what I say I can cope with – but your growing a pair and explaining why you disagree would be far more productive to the debate, would it not…?

  5. Robert May

    Weeee’re all doooomed Captain Mainwaring, no visit valuations and now virtual open houses, weeee’re all doooomed. 😥

    A people business without the public? it might catch on!

  6. Ric

    Oh well, virtual valuations next!

    1. PeeBee

      In my wee bit of our great nation we have “virtual valuations” already, Ric…

      virtually ridiculous;

      virtually insane, and, of course –

      virtually giving it away.

      Don’t you have those competitors as well? ;o)

      1. Ric

        Hi PeeBee…..

        I seem to be in virtually the same place as you……..

  7. PeeBee

    This whole article has me a tad confused – and for what I would suggest be a good reason.

    First things first – Thomas Morris is a good firm, with an excellent reputation.  Behind that good firm, of course, are some very good people – the one we all think of first being a certain Mr Julian O’Dell, our resident Trainer/Mentor here on EYE.

    So… what puzzles me is that in March, Julian published an article entitled “How to sell someone a property they think they don’t want!”

    Now I’m not trying to widdle on Julian’s firework here – but the answer is ‘you can’t’.  You can’t for that matter “sell” someone a house they do want… but that is an argument we will have to have another day.

    What we DO achieve, however (which Julian’s article relates very well) is help househunters to make their own informed decision by matching them with the ‘right’ property – even if they don’t think it IS ‘right for them’, in many cases.

    And a big part of that process is encouraging them to view a property in order for their non-visual senses to do the deciding.  Buyers don’t just “buy with their eyes” as we all know – the house/flat/mansionette has to “feel” right in the vast majority of cases or buyers walk away.

    So how can a buyer possibly get a “feel” for a property if they use a virtual viewing like this?

    Are Thomas Morris reporting 5 viewings to their clients – or claiming 59 in total?  Their photos aren’t in the least bit inspiring – so I doubt a video walkthrough would have set the world on fire.

    And with Mr Bradbury there to speak to real people on the day, surely you couldn’t have had a better person on the job to solicit multiple offers – thereby proving to the owner beyond doubt that the company had secured the best buyer at the best price.

    Sorry – but this was a gimmick.  A headline grabber and in that respect it has worked.  For TM.

    If an agent offered me this ‘service’, at best, I would politely decline.

    At worst… let’s just say there is a fair chance that they would withdraw their services pretty sharpish to rob me of the pleasure…


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