Following the Government’s restrictions on movement in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus, the country’s leading estate agents have ramped up their online businesses in a bid to keep the sale of new homes moving.
The latest move in this regard is the launch today by Savills Ireland of a new one-stop website called “Savills Live”. It allows prospective homebuyers to explore properties online using Matterport 3D virtual reality, engage in live chats with its sales agents and to buy through Savills’ own “click-to-purchase” feature which enables buyers and solicitors to sign contracts electronically.
While the service has only just been established, Savills’ new homes director David Browne is hoping it will help to address the needs both of those who had already been looking for a new home prior to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis and those now considering a move.
3D virtual tour
Explaining how Savills Live (virtual.savills.ie) will work, he said: “What you do on this website is you go in and you can view the housing scheme that you’re interested in, we can take you through it and you can get a 3D virtual tour. You can then have a live chat with the agent; we have a full sales team sitting at home with their laptops ready to talk to you. If you want to talk on mobile or on Zoom chat, that’s enabled as well. The live chat piece is important to bring you through it, or you can book an appointment by getting in to the agent’s diary.
“Then if you’re happy and you do want to buy, you can go to our click-to-purchase which is now enabled on this platform, and digitally sign the contracts. It’s a standard Irish contract, so you can raise queries through your solicitor in the normal fashion, and then you can digitally sign, so you have bought the house online.”
While Browne said he doesn’t expect to see a “flood” of people getting to the point where they sign contracts online, he said there had been a number of such sales last week.
He added: “There are people out there who have come back from abroad who want to buy a house, they have the loan approval and they want it now. We had a good number of sales last week and those people want to be able to sign the contract.”
Asked if there would be any flexibility given in relation to the digital signing of contracts in view of the current crisis, Browne said: “Yes. If there are contracts out, there has to be flexibility. People can’t get in to their solicitors, so we are looking at flexibility across the board here. You can’t be putting people under pressure at this stage.”