Industry Insights #6: Ed Mead – Viewber

Industry insights With Ed Mead of Viewber

In the 6th edition of our Property Insights feature we’re talking to Ed Mead, founder of hosted viewings platform, Viewber.

Q1: It’s estimated that online estate agents hold a 7.2% market share, is this high, lower or about the same as you would have expected a year ago?

There has always been a proportion of the selling public happy to handle more of the process themselves. The struggle for online agents has been to replicate the service levels necessary to break out of this group.

I expect it to grow, in the post Emoov environment the level has fallen but write this sector off at your peril.

Lettings is a different ball game – the proportion of DIY landlords is growing fast – esp. post S24 , and with much of the regulatory framework and hassle now handled by clever tech and platforms, agents will need to adapt as landlords look to maintain yield.

Q2: We’ve noticed more and more online agents are now offering hosted viewings, do you think homeowners are reluctant to do their own viewings?

It’s not that they’re reluctant – it’s that they’re the wrong people to do it. Agents will always try and get an owner out of the house. They’ll follow, say the wrong things and generally make the buyer feel uncomfortable. Buyers will relax and be more forthcoming.

Our homebuyers survey from last year actually found that buyers feel even more comfortable when not being sold to. We are finding an increasing use of open houses – already de rigeur in Oz and the US – as an efficient and successful way of showing buyers and tenants round.

For online agents though of course they struggle to do hosted viewings – but Viewber is changing that.

Q3: How much do you think the Brexit uncertainties are holding back the UK property market? Will we see a big difference once Brexit is over?

For the general market, not much. Outside London and the SE price isn’t the issue – people want to get on with their lives.

Those in more valuable property and discretionary sellers are now realising that they’re buying in the same market as they’re selling in – if you’re buying a bigger property it’s the best time to sell. Sadly, for sellers, few people understand this.

There may be a Brexit boost but frankly everyone’s bored and just wants it sorted.

Q4: Which areas of the country excite you the most in terms of potential to see house prices rise?

Oddly I think central London, which has seen a 15-20% fall, and more when a seller is motivated, offers the best opportunities.

London is still an island on the Greenwich Meridian, is still politically and economically stable and is No.1 on most foreigners list of where they’d like to own property. Frankly exchange rates are as important as interest rates.

Q5: In your opinion, what are the top three things people can do before a viewing to make the best impression on a potential buyer?

Know the locality – properties can be changed but location can’t.

Make sure people know they can ask questions (a third party viewer is particularly well placed for this).

Simple introduction and hand shake with eye contact.

The rest will look after itself!

Q6: If you could show someone around any property in the world, which would it be and why?

Buckingham Palace – only way I’ll ever get in!

Q7: Tell us a little bit about Viewber and what you’re trying to achieve?

I started Viewber because when at Douglas & Gordon (like all agents) most Saturday diaries – forget Sundays – are full by Tuesdays, and that included temporary weekend staff. Think of the missed revenue opportunities.

Viewber exists to fill that void and give agents income from what was a dead period. What couldn’t any agent do with online access to an on demand army of over 6000 (and growing) vetted Viewbers anywhere in the UK.

We’ve now done over 50,000 viewings, so it works, and we’re growing fast. Irritatingly many of our smartest and best clients won’t give testimonials as they don’t want their competitors getting the same edge they have.

Telling your potential landlords and sellers that you can genuinely show their properties 7 days a week is both an instruction winner and lead generator whilst adding to the bottom line.

In a world where service is everything and the next generation wants everything on demand – wouldn’t you want to be able to service them?

Q8: What are the main reasons why a company would outsource their viewings to Viewber?

See Q7, but it’s to add revenue opportunities. Sunday alone is 14.2% of the week that’s currently dead to agents. Saturday is usually limited to what one member of staff can achieve.

Senior staff don’t like working weekends so give them Viewber viewings to use, and earn from. Happy staff – more income.

Q9: And what about becoming a Viewber? What do people gain when they join you as a professional viewing host?

A well known journalist – when Viewber launched in Sept 2016 – said “Everyone in the UK thinks they’re better than their estate agent and this is their chance to prove it”. I don’t believe they ARE better but most people love property and a natural prurience means they love looking round local properties.

Viewber’s feedback is rated after every viewing, which keeps standards up, and they love doing a good job. None of our Viewbers see this as a main source of income – they mostly do it because they love it.

The way our system works means they don’t have to accept a job and if they don’t it quickly goes to the next nearest Viewber, so it fits well with their lives.

Q10: What’s next for Viewber?

It’s all about quality for us. We are becoming the de facto out of hours, holiday and gap filling viewing service for the property industry. That’s how we’d like to continue.

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