Portal gives prospective buyers virtual tour of London homes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2010, 12:00am

A new London property portal enables potential Hong Kong buyers to take a 'virtual' tour of a home on the internet and avoid the expense of flying to the city for an on-the-spot viewing, its founders say.

Property portal www.fabricproperty.com lists 9,000 homes for sale and rent in central and northwest London, with a focus on the prime end of the housing market. Sales prices for homes listed on the portal range from GBP250,000 to GBP50 million (HK$3 million to HK$602.5 million).

The website features narrated, walk-through videos of 'showcase properties'. The three-minute videos show views of the street outside the home, then take the viewer through each room inside while a presenter describes their attributes over soft background music. At least 71 properties will be filmed in this way between now and June 2011.

Short videos of designers, architects and gardeners recommending ideas for home improvements also feature.

'We don't believe that any property portal is using video in the way that we are, allowing visitors to wander through exclusive homes, watch experts talk about property-related topics in engaging ways, or explore the many varied areas of north London,' said Simon Hobbs, managing director of Forward, the portal's owner.

There is no video footage of the area immediately around a home, so viewers will not see what backs onto it, whether that be a graveyard, noisy pub, another house or something else. Instead, attractions of the surrounding district are presented in text, slide-show and podcast in the portal's 'Area Focus' section.

'We have launched the site with 21 dedicated area guides that hopefully cover everything you could possibly want to know about a specific area in north London such as Highgate or Hampstead,' said Hobbs. 'We also link every video and property directly to the agent marketing the property via e-mail and telephone so that interested parties can discuss the location and surrounding area with a specialist.'

The portal received 1,500 unique visitors from 28 countries, including Hong Kong, during its September 9 launch. Visitors spent an average of 9.28 minutes on the site.

Estate agents have generally responded favourably to the new website. However, prospective buyers are advised not to rely exclusively on its video walk-throughs when evaluating a property.

'You should visit a property or at least have someone based in Britain to advise you or have a friend or relative to look on your behalf,' said Russell Hunt, managing director of London buyer's agency Property Hunt.