Technology is certainly making its mark in the property world, whether it’s buying, selling or renting properties online, making inventories online and viewing or even building homes. This has certainly shaken up the traditional estate agents, who are now having to compete with proptech companies, who themselves are finding new ways of conducting business in diverse and exciting ways.
One of the most innovative developments is the use of virtual reality to market properties. This is particularly useful for buyers who want to view homes hundreds of miles away, or even in a different country. They can take a virtual tour from their own home. The use of VR in the property world has already grown into a billion-pound industry, with Goldman Sachs estimating that this could treble in the next four years.
In the real estate sector, Sotheby’s International Realty has started showing properties using Samsung’s Gear VR, while property-centred VR conducted in Chinese opens opportunities in the growing overseas investment market. This technology can save real estate and property letting companies a lot of money, because they would not necessarily need a high street office or a showroom with pictures of properties in the window. All they need is a VR headset to show properties in a much better way than photos can.
Foxtons in London is also embracing virtual reality and has teamed up with UI Centric, who create virtual versions of apartments using 360º photos. These are then uploaded onto a Samsung S7 mobile phone which fits inside the virtual reality headset. To view the property, the client just puts on the headset to move through the apartment. As Foxtons says, it is sometimes difficult for buyers and renters to schedule viewings around their work or family life. VR allows them to view more homes in a shorter space of time without having to travel around a town to physically visit them all. Landlords can also benefit by having more viewings without having to show people around. Potential tenants can get a feel for the properties and decide if they want to go further and view them or sign up. It means less time is wasted viewing properties that tenants don’t really like and so makes the process more efficient for tenants and landlords alike.
For millennials, the idea of using technology to rent or buy properties is no big thing. In fact, anything that simplifies the operation is fine by them. They expect to use a single platform, so that the process is conducted in as streamlined a way as possible. Time is of the essence for them, so they would want to view a property virtually, find out if it is still available for when they want it, sign a contract and make their deposit digitally, without having to go through several companies or wait more than 24 hours for a decision.
The technology needed to carry out VR tours is not expensive. It can be hired or a company can use a professional company to create the 360º and VR tours for their business. Then, all that is needed to market rental properties more efficiently is a headset and smartphone.