Periscope house viewings 'changing estate agent image'

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Media captionSimon Bradbury has started streaming house viewings on the internet

An estate agent using a live video streaming app to conduct home viewings said he hoped the technology would help improve his profession's image.

Simon Bradbury, of Thomas Morris in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, said his office was among the first to stream open house events using the app Periscope.

He said he had been "blown away" by its success.

"One thing people are critical of estate agents for is authenticity, and this is changing that," he said.

Image copyright Periscope / BBC
Image caption Viewers can ask home owners questions during the broadcast

Live streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat allow people to broadcast live from their smartphone or tablet, and are rapidly gaining followers.

Mr Bradbury conducted his first online house viewing in Eynesbury, Cambridgeshire, earlier this month. He said 54 people watched online, compared to just five who visited in person.

The house was sold 24 hours later, albeit not to a Periscope viewer.

"To have people tuning in and looking around the house, asking questions about the nearest schools, the nearest railway stations, how many bedrooms it has was really, really impressive," said Mr Bradbury.

Image copyright Periscope/BBC
Image caption Viewers can send hearts by tapping the screen if they like what they see

He said streaming forced agents to be more open and "authentic" and allowed people to ask questions they might not be comfortable asking in person.

It also means people can view homes even if they cannot get time off work.

However, he said drawbacks included a lack of internet connection in some areas and having to cope with rain, background noise and people spamming the streams.

Mr Bradbury said people in future may end up taking tenancies on streaming alone, but it would only ever "complement" the buying experience.

Asked whether streaming could spark the end of the open house, Dr Eric Levy, marketing lecturer at Judge Business School in Cambridge, said: "It definitely seems like it could make a big impact.

"I don't know if it will signal completely the end of the real estate agent, but it may make a dent in that."

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