As the U.K. enters yet another lockdown, Zoopla, the U.K.-based real estate vertical, said it will offer free virtual viewings for its agents. The company says the service will help agents reach customers who aren’t comfortable with physical viewings.

Zoopla teamed up with FocalAgent, a video, photography and floorplan service provider to offer the viewing service, which it calls Smart Viewing.

The virtual viewings will start as a pilot available to a limited number of agents. Eligible agents will be invited to sign up for free access to the Smart Viewing platform, which provides interactive, agent-led virtual viewings where agents guide users around the property using webcams and voice commentary. Agents can switch between properties and conduct multiple viewings to tailor them to applicant preferences.

An entry level product, Focal.Free requires agents to use the original listing photography for the virtual viewing with an option to create a DIY 360 tour using the Vieweet app, which is free to Zoopla agents. Additional packages can be bolted on to upgrade listings, including Focal.360, which includes a professional 360 tour and Focal.Pro which includes a full set of professional photography, video trailers, professional 360 tour and floor plans.

The leading U.K. property portal, Rightmove, fast-tracked plans to rollout virtual viewings on all its platforms in April after the pandemic put a stop to in-person viewings. Agents simply have to tick a box on individual listings for a virtual tour or video. It also launched secure video viewings functionality with an auto-respond function. In May, OnTheMarket.com, the U.K.’s No. 3 portal, launched a tool for consumers to search for property listings that come with virtual viewings including both virtual 3D and video tours.

Zoopla’s agents can use existing listing photography or get access to tailored professional photography. The service gives agents free access to a viewing platform to conduct safe virtual viewings for the properties they list on Zoopla and the ability to present a property using 2D photography or virtual viewings using 360-degree photography or tours.

“We are the first portal to offer agents the technology to offer free virtual viewings on all of their listings,” said Andy Marshall, Zoopla’s chief commercial officer.

“By enjoying free access to the Smart Viewing platform, agents can provide home movers with a best-in-class virtual viewing experience, and an alternative to physical viewings, which is crucial when the threat of Covid means homemovers and agents may be hesitant to tour a property in person.

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