What did you buy online during the circuit breaker? Clothes, workout equipment, a new TV? Or a resale flat that cost over $800,000? Some folks in Singapore did exactly that. While property viewings were not allowed during the circuit breaker and Phase 1, the industry got creative and introduced virtual home tours to showcase the properties on the market.
And even as Covid-19 measures have been loosened during Phase 2 (in-person property viewings have resumed with not more than five people allowed per group), there are still virtual viewings happening, as property agent Kenji Wong, 35, tells 8Days.sg.
The 35-year-old ERA agent was involved in three property transactions during the circuit breaker and Phase 1 — he sold two resale flats and represented a client who bought a resale condo unit — all through virtual tours held via Zoom. Prior to Phase 2, he’d done about 50 virtual viewings, sometimes up to eight to nine viewings a day.
However, even though buyers can now physically view properties, some are choosing not to. In fact, virtual tours of showflats are still available to facilitate the first round of shortlisting for consumers. “About 20 per cent of my clients are still slightly fearful of the backlash in Phase 2, or another wave of the virus, and are still keeping their distance from crowds and show flats,” he explains.
“I won’t say things have gone back to what it was like pre-Covid-19 times, but the surge of activity since the reopening in Phase 2 has been intense. The vibe is generally positive in Phase 2 for both agents and customers,” he quips.
While there naturally has been an uptick of physical viewings in Phase 2, Kenji thinks that “virtual tours seem to be a trend to stay”. Since Phase 2 commenced, he has conducted five viewings online, albeit for foreigners. Some local buyers are also requesting for virtual tours as a means of shortlisting their choices.
Kenji took us on a virtual tour of a four-room flat at Dawson Road, which was one of the three transactions he handled during CB. And let's just say that it was way more high-tech that we expected. You first get a bird’s eye view of the flat and its layout at a glance. After that, you go through a 360-degree 3-D walk-through of the flat, where you can view the rooms from various angles.
Fancy. But even as we marvelled at how slick all this seems, at the back of our minds were still some niggling thoughts. Like, who would shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house that they’ve not seen in real life?