Property trend: Virtual reality

May 16, 2017 | Property News, Slider

The use of virtual reality in
property is growing rapidly in the international market. But is it likely to take off in South Africa any time soon?

A few years ago, virtual reality was predominantly used in gaming. Now, virtual reality in property is already worth about $1bn globally and it’s estimated that it will treble over the next four years. While South Africa is lagging behind, mainly due to cost and accessibility, this could change quite quickly in the near future as prices drop and the technology becomes more widely used.

Virtual reality is most often used for new builds as buyers can get an idea of the space, long before the bricks and mortar are in place. Internationally, it is increasingly used for high-end properties, allowing buyers anywhere to view the property online, as though in real life. So will it take over video soon? That’s unlikely, according  to Simon Bray, CEO of Private Property. Says Bray: “Virtual reality really adds value to new developments, for example,  by allowing buyers to see something that they couldn’t see before. But for existing property, it’s unlikely to replace video any time soon.  Video is still more accessible, easier and  cheaper to produce, and doesn’t require special hardware  or software.” At the moment, the property process involves a client viewing pictures and video, visiting the property and making an offer. It’s likely that clients are still going to want to view the property in person, even if they’ve taken a virtual tour. So the question remains: for existing properties, does  virtual reality fundamentally add more to the property buyer’s experience? In 2017, it appears not yet.

Words: Bridget McNulty