Socially distanced house viewing for students
The unprecedented national outbreak of the coronavirus has changed the platforms for viewing accommodation. While, previously students were able to preview their potential accommodation choices at University open days, such large events, for the foreseeable future, can no longer take place. While things must inevitably change, student accommodation offices and Universities are working together to produce innovative solutions to the changing social environment and ensure that transition into accommodation is as smooth as possible.
On the 13th May, the Government guidelines for England, outlined plans for house viewings to take place in accordance with social distancing measures and public health guidelines. However, face-to-face viewings must only take place after an initial virtual viewing. While the initial virtual accommodation viewing is much different than the traditional format, many Universities have begun to put this in place.
The University of Newcastle https://www.ncl.ac.uk/ has pioneered the prospects of offering house viewings online through virtual reality. This high-level technology provides students with a spatial awareness of their potential home, giving them a deeper and broader insight than shown by pictures. Virtual reality bridges the gap between face-to-face viewings and on-screen images. However, not all student accommodation offices had preparation in place for this scenario. Many accommodations offices reached out to current tenants, asking them to take home videos of their accommodation to allow potential buyers to access a virtual tour.
While virtual accommodation viewings are likely to become more dominant across the property market, with websites like Accommodation For Students offering video tours, face-to-face viewings can still take place where the prospective tenant is interested in the property after a virtual insight. In this case, agents will look to restrict the number of individuals viewing a property at one time, and ensure that homeowners have left the property while the viewing is taking place. However, as many students have returned home for the summer, most student accommodation will be empty which minimises the potential for the virus to spread. However, as travelling by public transport is still discouraged, many students outside of the locality may prefer to view their potential accommodation via the online platforms.
Starting University is often a daunting prospect, getting settled in the right accommodation that suits students’ needs will enhance their experience, ensuring that they get the most out of their time. With all the uncertainty within the current pandemic, finding the right accommodation provides stability for students in this challenging time. Whether students view their accommodation via a virtual tour or prefer a socially distanced viewing, accommodation offices are providing practical solutions for students.
Rules and regulations are changing every day, and the future for accommodation viewings are uncertain. In the changing socio-economic climate, services must adapt to the times. Ultimately, public health is paramount, and student accommodation must create alternative provisions for students, to ensure they can view accommodation in a safe and contained environment. Planning for unpredictable eventualities is becoming the new normal, however if other Universities follow the innovations of the University of Newcastle, virtual reality may become the most desired platform for accommodation viewings.