Real Estate virtual touring is on the rise

The industry has managed to overcome the barriers brought by the pandemic through online solutions

Image source: PropertyGuru Group

COVID-19 has forced a third of the world’s population to live under some sort of lockdown. Many brick-and-mortar businesses have little choice but to shut their doors indefinitely and transition their business online, if possible.

As an industry that thrives on face-to-face interactions, the real estate sector has been hit especially hard. The Singapore government has banned in-person property viewings “until further notice,” making it difficult for agents and developers to continue operations and rack up sales. Throughout the region, various governments have similar policies.

Where retailers, food and beverage businesses have e-commerce and on-demand food delivery services, what options do agents and property developers have to keep business as usual in light of the new normal.

This is where PropTech comes in.

Proptech to the rescue

Property technology, or PropTech, refers to any technology within the real estate space. The goal is to optimise real estate functions through technology, whether via software or hardware inventions, and to transform the experience from the lens of the consumer.

PropTech has been gaining traction in the last few years, as evidenced by the amount of funding that has been poured into it. Global venture capital investment for PropTech stood at just US$186 million in 2011. But according to an EY and CREtech study, the PropTech sector has amassed US$75.2 billion in the last five years—with a third of that investment raised in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

(Image source: INC)

By the end of 2019, the Investor Confidence Index for PropTech had comfortably reached 8.0/10, with 86% of investors consenting that PropTech companies were “performing above or meeting expectations in customer growth.”

This confidence in PropTech not only represents the segment’s overall investability, but it is also a testament to the collective belief in the transformative effects of PropTech on the real estate industry.

In Singapore, there are many applications of PropTech. Some startups are using technology to disrupt property management, providing cloud computing and IoT solutions for property managers to automate daily tasks. Others are developing AI-powered robots and drones to aid in the construction process.

However, one PropTech solution that has become extremely popular is Immersive Reality.

Virtual touring is on the rise

Immersive reality is one of the most powerful tools within the real estate industry right now. It involves virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to give customers a rich visual experience that simulates the real world. It’s most obvious application is for 3D virtual tours.

The biggest benefit of virtual touring is that it’s convenient. According to a survey from the Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019 Report, 56% of respondents said that finding the right property was by far the most difficult step in buying a home, followed by paperwork (20%) and understanding the process (16%).

(Image source: Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019)

It’s difficult enough as it is to schedule property visits to a physical location, but with the sheer number of available properties in the market, it becomes confounding to even attempt to visit them all. Now, thanks to Covid-19, it’s nearly impossible.

Immersive reality solutions solve this problem. Customers can go on 360-degree virtual tours and get a firsthand experience of the property without ever having to step out of their homes or go through tedious back-and-forths for scheduling the visit.

Not only does this save time and effort on the customer’s part, but it also gives developers a platform to reach a wider audience—people from around the world are free to go on virtual tours and find prospective properties from the comfort and safety of their homes.

In line with these benefits, PropertyGuru recently announced StoryTeller, a new feature available within the PropertyGuru FastKey property sales platform.

FastKey is PropertyGuru’s cloud-based solution that automates full project sales cycles from launch to close. StoryTeller is its latest feature that allows developers to “tell their story” through an immersive, 360-degree simulation of their actual properties and surrounding cityscapes.

Agents and developers integrate Storyteller with the FastKey inventory management system to give viewers real-time information on specific units. In the graphic below, there are green dots overlaid on available units.

Image source: PropertyGuru Group

StoryTeller’s main strength is its ability to showcase properties in the fullest—everything from the project building, facilities, units, and surrounding cityscapes are accessible through the platform.

The realism of this experience highlights the importance of transparency. And as the experience is completely computer-generated, developers can use “virtual staging” to show units in multiple furnishing styles—a value that cannot be delivered in a physical sales gallery.

Customers can be assured of the accuracy of the tour and experience both the potential pros and cons as they are 3D models based off developer plans.

And because this gallery is entirely online, potential property buyers can view the property at any time of the day. Developers also get access to important metrics including the number of views on their virtual tourist, and the most popular times for these viewings.

Image source: PropertyGuru Group

“We believe that these technological advancements will help position stakeholders at the forefront of the fast-evolving landscape and expectations – opening up a new world of possibilities for all,” said PropertyGuru Group’s Managing Director of FastKey, Jason Gregory.

StoryTeller was in the works for quite some time now, but the sudden onset of the pandemic has made it necessary for us to expedite the developments and release StoryTeller even sooner than planned. But the new launch has already seen “spectacular interest” during a webinar launch attended by 750 property developers.

Image source: PropertyGuru Group

“FastKey is a step forward in our commitment to improve the property buying and selling experience as we leverage our constant investments in technology. Not only has FastKey brought unprecedented speed to the sales process for property developers – streamlining transactions has resulted in improved efficiency, higher cost savings, and enhanced customer satisfaction,” added Jeremy.

With the digitisation of property sales becoming expedited because of the pandemic, PropertyGuru believes that the platform serves as a game-changer for the property industry.

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