As COVID-19 continues to pose challenging conditions for the property industry and with tiered restrictions likely to be in place for some time, property managers have to be able to work flexibly with providers and companies, regardless of where they are in the country.
Since the start of the global pandemic, agents and landlords have and continue to face huge logistical difficulties in balancing safety with consumer demand. Urgent works cannot be ignored and agents and property managers must continue to deliver effective property management, despite the restrictions to the market. This includes the need to carry out interim inspections which are a useful and, in some cases, vital way of monitoring a property during a tenancy. But, with social distancing in force, it has become increasingly difficult and time consuming.
This is why InventoryBase has introduced Live Inspections – new service which allows property inspections to be carried out remotely through live video communication.
Performance of the property market under lockdown
As we know; the property market was initially closed down by the first wave of the pandemic, with people forced into furlough, having to temporarily close their businesses and work from home. For many, being confined to make shift offices for such an extended period has resulted in people reassessing not only their priorities but also their living situation.
When the market opened in May, pent-up demand from suspended house moves and a renewed interest from those looking to up and down-size has driven up property prices giving a much needed boost to both the letting & estate markets.
To put this into context; in March, when the UK entered the initial lockdown, rental demand dropped by 42% in the proceeding month. Buying demand fell by 70% at the same time, creating a highly unstable industry as property professionals sought ways to keep their businesses afloat until the market could re-open. However house prices have quickly rallied after the market was allowed to open with a remarkable up turn in prices; a 21-year high as noted by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) whose house price index showed growth (to October) rising to +68.
The lettings industry has also felt the demand for rental properties especially in more rural areas where tenants looked for a better balance and more space. This has been expressed with an increase of the national average for asking rent up 3.4% in Q2 of 2020 in comparison with the year before.
However, despite the positives of a buoyant market and a high demand for rental properties; agents need to be able to meet this demand while still maintaining the safety for those involved at every step of the lettings process.
Introducing Live Inspections
In our initial response to the COVID outbreak, InventoryBase created self-service inspection templates and guides, allowing property professionals to invite tenants to complete interim and pre check-out inspections themselves, prioritising the health of all involved while still getting the job done.
InventoryBase has now taken Covid-Secure reporting to the next level and launched Live Inspections, a remote inspection tool to view properties in real time. This new service will mean professional inventory providers, property owners and managers can virtually inspect and assess the property’s issues and conditions anytime, anywhere.
What is a Live Inspection?
Live Inspections are a safe and secure way for inventory clerks, property managers and landlords to ‘visit’ and conduct inspections of the property remotely. Providers will be able to review the property virtually without the need to enter the home, helping to keep tenants safe and maintaining social distancing. With Live inspections; the clerk will be able to carry out multiple property visits, unhindered by the need to travel, collect and return keys and more importantly, lessen the disruption to the tenants work or family routines.
The simple and secure process involves;
- The tenant receiving an email with instructions to download the app and a direct connection link
- On the date/time of the Live Inspection the tenant opens the app or clicks on the link in the email to auto connect
- The app connects to a secure server, and starts live streaming
- The inventory clerk or manager can view the live feed on the report editor page within InventoryBase and fill in the report while viewing the feed and chatting with tenant
- The tenant can be asked to take photos during the live stream which will upload in the background to the server for clerk or manager to allocate into the report template in real time
- Once the call is complete, the tenant disconnects and the live stream ends
A key benefit of carrying out reports remotely is that it enables the inventory provider or property manager to schedule the property visits and their workload more efficiently and, with easy-to-follow guidance and templates, ensure that the reports that agents and landlords rely on are still completed to a high standard.
The value of remote inspections
Interim property inspections are a key way to understand the issues and problems that often arise in any rented residential property. They are especially important this coming year as tenants will be spending more time at home, so landlords need to have a better understanding of the property and if it is being taken care of. Equally, they need to manage any urgent maintenance issues that may either affect the fabric of the property or the health & safety of the tenants.
By providing live and remote inspections, agents and landlords can actively show that they take their tenants’ health and safety seriously, and get to the root of any problems quickly.
Enabling property professionals to carry out the inspection via a live and secure remote link (that the tenants are fully in control of) allows the clerk to assess the property and work with the tenants to address any concerns or maintenance issues in the shortest amount of time.
Remote inspections are set to become an invaluable tool as the coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge everyday life. Although any sense of ‘normality’ is now a distant dream, it doesn’t mean that we have to stop core property management processes. By giving renters more autonomy over the live inspection process we can keep landlords and managers informed and ensure that the rental experience is a positive one by inviting tenants to engage safely with property professionals.
Keeping all parties safe and following the Government guidelines of maintaining social distance will help with the overall fight against this dreadful disease.
InventoryBase Self Service and Remote Inspections
Through our new services, InventoryBase has been able to help property professionals carry out over 20,000 remote property inspections since the first initial lockdown. These self-service inspections have allowed the industry to continue to protect tenants and assets right across the country.
As we move through the current restrictions, the second lockdown has, thankfully, not resulted in another closure of the property market. However, there is a continued need for remote & virtual property inspections and viewings as social distancing still needs to be maintained until we have a viable way forward.
InventoryBase is at the forefront of digital growth in the property sector and continues to strive to deliver new and innovative ways to deliver key services to the industry. We are constantly looking for ways to make the activities of property professionals and lives of tenants safer and easier. With this new service our core aim is to make navigating the issues and conditions caused by the impacts of coronavirus more manageable with services that will continue to be of value well into the future.
And as we look forward, beyond lockdown, the potential applications for Live & Remote reporting and inspections will continue to evolve.
Responsive on site training and assessments, monitoring residential construction, identification of safety risks by drones to high rise flats and blocks streamed direct to surveyors and property managers are just some of the applications where live inspections can play a vital part in reducing risk and increasing efficiency. The sky is not the limit!
InventoryBase Live – Safe, Secure, Simple