Look but don't touch: The rise of virtual tour voyeurism

Property Reporter
8th July 2021

The UK property market has to be one of the success stories of the pandemic, if there is such a thing. Not only has the industry survived the last 18 months, it has flourished and at the very heart of this is technology.

Prior to the markets closing last year due to the first national lockdown, virtually viewing a property was pretty niche and was perhaps something an estate agent would offer because it could, rather than because it had to.

Fast forward to today and virtual property tours are widely expected by UK house hunters. However, according to new research, it seems that a new trend is emerging.

Half of homebuyers admit to being virtual tour voyeurs

Research by the next-generation guided virtual property viewings platform, U-See Homes, has revealed that half of us admit to being virtual property voyeurs, viewing a property online without the intention of buying, with 16% going as far as viewing in person.

As a nation, we’re obsessed with the property market and whether it’s surfing the likes of Rightmove during the Christmas holiday, or checking out the latest luxury property porn, we love to take a look at how others are living.

The digital evolution of the property market has made this easier than ever and 81% of those surveyed by U-See Homes admitted that they’ve looked at an online property listing with absolutely no intention of actually viewing it.

51% have taken this virtual viewing voyeurism one step further, opting to view a property virtually with no intention of viewing it in person or potentially buying it. Curiosity was the driving factor for half of those choosing to do so (49%), while checking out a neighbour, friend or colleague's house was also the driving factor for 16%. 14% did so because it was a luxurious or expensive home.

But it doesn’t stop there. As many as 16% of homebuyers stated they have actually viewed a property in person despite having absolutely no intention of submitting an offer. Again, curiosity was the main reason (65%), although 23% did so to get inside a luxurious or expensive home or one with unusual features.

Simon Dempsey, head of marketing for U-See Homes, says: “Advancements in technology have allowed us to take our property perversions to a whole new level, with virtual tour technology allowing us to effectively walk around someone else’s home without any intention of buying it.

"While this is a pretty harmless practice, the 16% of us that take this virtual tyre kicking as far as a physical viewing are perhaps taking things a bit too far.

"Not only is it a little bit strange, but it wastes the time of both the homeowner and estate agent who conduct the viewing. Guided virtual tours can be a great tool when initially qualifying a buyer as they allow an agent to conduct them in real-time.

"Not only does this reduce the number of time wasters but it also allows the agent to whittle down a list of potential homes to just a few strong contenders, removing the need for multiple physical viewings and speeding up the process for all involved.”

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