Virtual reality showrooms: the new norm for real estate

Apr 9, 2018 | Tech

“Changing the way in which our clients are looking at property, this new way of viewing a home brings the experience to life – from the comfort of wherever you are”

Over the years virtual reality (VR) technology found use in the fields of medicine, robotics and of course game rooms, now it can also help to sell property as Jawitz Properties Western Seaboard have discovered.

Part of the SPS property listing group, the property agency services the western seaboard area of Blouberg, an upmarket area near Cape Town and growing in popularity with buyers also from upcountry looking to invest in property.

Jawitz has a digital showroom, the first in the country they say, where prospective buyers can view top listings over a cup of coffee, but the listings are viewable remotely as well through virtual reality, view panning and various websites.

“Changing the way in which our clients are looking at property, this new way of viewing a home brings the experience to life – from the comfort of wherever you are,” says Pieter Davidtz, Business Manager at Jawitz Properties Western Seaboard. “Technology has become a very big part of where property is going, virtual reality and view panning is the next step – and the game changer – taking real estate to the next level.”

Jawitz Properties has teamed up with a top VR production company, Forj, to produce virtual reality show days. Simply put, a viewing is recorded and edited to create a seamless experience to see every aspect of the property for sale. “The agent who does the recorded viewing speaks to the camera as though the camera is the client, highlighting the various features of the home,” adds Corne Davidtz, Principal of the franchise.

This new technology is viewed with a VR headset, allowing the prospective buyer to step inside their potential dream home from wherever they are. It also makes it possible for potential clients to gain access to a host of properties in a range of different geographic locations. If a client in Johannesburg, for example, wants to buy an investment property in Cape Town, he can walk through a range of properties in Cape Town without having to set a foot outside of Gauteng.

Corne explains that they offer this service only for exclusive mandates. “One of the biggest benefits virtual reality affords our sole mandate clients, is the ability to showcase their property to many potential buyers without upsetting the current tenant. They also don’t need to deal with constant viewings, he adds. Their first sale through a VR viewing is a good example; the tenant was quite difficult, but allowed them access for the recording and thereafter, the buyer only had to see the recording – so without disturbing the tenant or dragging the buyer to yet another viewing, the deal was sealed.

For prospective sellers who find it difficult to be home for viewings, or who are elderly, sick, or have large families – having one recording done as a ‘show day’ simplifies the selling process.

Another draw card is the added safety aspect VR gives agents and sellers. Instead of having dozens of strangers walk through a property on a show day, with VR technology, the house is filmed and can be ‘walked through’ and viewed numerous times without compromising anyone’s safety.

Corne has no doubt that in time virtual show rooms and applications will become part of the package that potential clients look for in their realtor. As the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible he expects it will become the industry norm. “It’s not inconceivable to think that estate agencies that want to stay relevant, will have to adopt this new technology,” he concluded.

In the very near future South Africans can expect real estate developers to make use of technologies that allow them the ability to share their virtual vision before the property has even been built. One of the biggest challenges facing developers today is deciding on what the market will want in six months’ time – once the property has been built and is ready for occupation. VR will enable investors and developers to gauge market interest before a development has even been built. By allowing potential buyers or tenants the opportunity to do a virtual ‘walk-through’ viewing of the property, it gives them the opportunity to engage and envisage a life there, before committing and provides them with much needed insight into what the finished product will and won’t be like.

Technology will further shape the SA property landscape by enabling people to digitally design or virtually furnish a space before purchasing or renting a property as well. Although this technological-development is yet to arrive in South Africa, it has already made inroads in the overseas property market, in places such as New York and London. Watch this space.

Words: Jawitz Properties