Viewber Diaries - Em, Cheshire
A guest blog post from a real Viewber.
This series follows different Viewbers who are based all across the Nation. We want to find out more about their personal experiences as a Viewber.
Find out more about the people who conduct the many property appointments and services that we offer.
Here is Em's story from Cheshire...
I came to Viewber last year, as one of many who can’t do the job, they usually do because of Covid-19. I’ve been a journalist for most of my adult life and have travelled the world with my job. However, over the last few years, I have been working as a freelancer. As I mostly write about the entertainment, restaurant/ hospitality industry plus arts, you can imagine through lockdown any freelance work pretty much dried up. In one previous job, I’d written about top-end luxury properties for a series of lifestyle magazines where I’d travel to places and interview owners of houses (with history) who were selling, and these often-wonderful stories featured in the magazine. As I’m also proficient with a camera, when I saw Viewber was recruiting and I had some of the skills required to apply, I thought why not.
Like many people who have had to sideline during the pandemic, it’s been a really interesting experience and enjoyable challenge, as it’s a position I wouldn’t otherwise have fallen into. For someone who doesn’t like being behind closed doors constantly, it’s really helped in terms of keeping me active. The aspect of the job I am enjoying the most, is that you do have to think on your feet. When you accept a viewing, you never initially quite know where it’s going to be, who you’ll be seeing and what your particular tasks might be. Let’s say, the job wasn’t what I first imagined, which was to be showing people around properties in a straightforward estate-agent-representative sort of way. It’s much more varied than that.
My first appointment was to a large 19th century property that had been standing for a while and was up for auction. The exterior was overgrown and the house was only half renovated. I became the key holder, and hosted back-to-back viewings for 30 minutes per time. As a people-person, I really like this side of the job. Even with social distancing, masks, and the correct Covid-19 procedures adhered to, people still like to chat to a friendly face. So even though that first particular appointment was on a cold/miserable November day, I began to warm to the job straight away. Since then, the people I have met have been generally really nice and respectful.
I found my feet relatively quickly and began to anticipate what clients want. For instance, I learned that if you’re shooting a video for an out-of-the-area investor who can’t travel to view, ensure the video shows the warts-and-all aspects of the building. The videos featured on estate agent's websites are the sleek version, aimed at the glossy sell. An investor wants to see what work needs doing. It’s not a deal-breaker for them, but they have to know how much requires spending on a property and whether the boiler is OK, or the electrics have been updated. They may want to know whether there are potential damp or subsidence issues. They want you to be their eyes and to point out what they would want to see. Also, for it to be filmed slowly. Then they can make an informed decision. Many properties are purchased without the buyer ever seeing them in person. I’ve carried out live videos with buyers from Hong Kong or filmed videos to send across to investors from London or elsewhere in the UK. I have videoed nice homes to the not-so-nice, homes with tenants present and properties where no one has lived in for a good while that are damp and musty with wallpaper hanging off the walls. The properties I have visited really are a mixed bag, so you have to be open to that kind of experience. Today, for instance I took photographs and filmed a walkthrough video for an old chapel that is going up for auction. It’s this side of the job that really interests me, when else would you get to see such interesting spaces?
Whilst shooting videos is one of my favourite aspects of the job, one aspect that I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d enjoy is measuring up a property, as my inner compass has never been my strongest attribute. However, I wanted to give it a go, to give myself more strings to my bow. So, I did the floor plan course. I admit I was really nervous when I went to measure my first house, but it was fine, as it was a box-shaped three-storey house that was relatively straightforward. However, the second house was unconventional in its layout and definitely not square, with odd-shaped rooms, add-on extensions and an L-shaped kitchen. It was a veritable jigsaw puzzle. Yet, in a way that was a great exercise as I very quickly got to grips with how to measure properly. Now I’m a whizz with the laser measurer, and as a creative person, I find measuring and drawing up the diagrams one of my favourite elements of the job.
In terms of the market, where I live in Cheshire there are a lot of people buying at the lower end of the property market for investment. It takes the form of portfolio investment, overseas investment, and investors buying for the rental market. It means I shoot a fair few video for clients. How long that will last, it’s difficult to know (as we haven’t yet seen the effects of Brexit coming through to the property market). It will also be interesting to see what is going to happen in the aftermath of Covid-19. That said, currently, the more affordable properties are like gold dust - on the market today, sold tomorrow.
If you are an investor reading this, then a Viewber can be your eyes and ears and definitely widen your area radius when looking for investment properties. For estate agents, the property market is pretty busy right now, so if you can’t do a call, a Viewber can show people around and represent your company on your behalf. The fact that most of us have had to think on our feet across numerous property scenarios and have to consistently multi-task, makes us top people for any property-related job.
For Viewbers, it’s not the job you may first think because it is so varied. Likewise, it’s not for those who want a reliable income. It can be sporadic and you have to go with that flow too. I’ve had periods where I’m dashing off here and there on appointments. Yet, also weeks that have been super quiet. For me, I do now have some writing jobs that I can juggle around being a Viewber, which fits well for me personally.
All in all, it’s been a great experience and one that I’ll keep on doing even when lockdown ends and society begins to normalise again. Plus, being a Viewber has certainly made the pandemic much more bearable than it would if I had been mooching about at home every day.
10 tips to new Viewbers:
- Keep a separate diary to the Viewber one. I’ve reverted to an old-school/ non-digital one
- Read the instructions properly, to give the client exactly what they want, and so you know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing
- Plan ahead (in your head), how you might approach the viewing
- Know where you’re going and how long it will take to get there, and get there in plenty of time (you don’t want a queue of viewers waiting on the doorstep)
- I often set an alarm before I’m due to go out, you can get sidetracked by doing other things and then realise suddenly you should be on your way to an appointment
- Be prepared to expect the unexpected, I’ve shown people around houses that are lovely and pristine to ones that have holes in the windows and the floors, but that’s part of the fun
- Send your feedback across as soon as the appointment has finished (the client will thank you, as they’re likely to be waiting on it)
- Give informative feedback. Put yourself in their shoes and give information you would want to know if you were sending someone on your behalf
- Be thorough, every appointment is different so it requires you to adapt well to suit any given task
- Most of all enjoy it - if you like people, if you like houses and property, and if you like variety and unpredictability in your work, then you’ll really like doing this job!