by Anthony Hitt
There’s no doubt about it: virtual reality is the future, and the future is here. I got my first real taste of the technology years ago. However, last year when I received a Google Cardboard viewer as part of a special project created by the New York Times, the ease of use and availability to the masses made me think more and more about its potential for real estate. I placed my iPhone in the viewer and suddenly I was on top of One World Trade in lower Manhattan. I was blown away, and as a company with a global network, I knew Engel & Völkers could greatly benefit from this technology, the time was now, and we could set a new standard within the real estate industry.
With a global audience and property portfolio, what if we could offer clients the opportunity to walk through a home with an advisor-guided tour, all while standing in a brokerage or from their home computer? Game-changing. I’m proud to say that Engel & Völkers is making virtual a reality for its clientele, and is the first real estate brand in North America to make this technology standard for its entire network, changing the way homebuyers shop for homes and view listings.
Virtual reality offers three substantial benefits to clients:
- Time-Savings: Time is the ultimate luxury and transparency is a vital component in building trust – the number one characteristic sought after when selecting a real estate agent. Virtual reality supports both of these concepts. Potential buyers save time by being able to narrow down the list of homes they would like to visit, by experiencing listings through an in-detail VR tour and narrowing their selection from there. With immoviewer – the VR technology company Engel & Völkers has partnered with – advisors can give clients guided tours, anytime, anywhere. It still has that personalized touch, a unique differentiator and key factor in our selection of immoviewer as a partner.
- View from Anywhere: With VR technology, potential buyers can virtually tour properties across North America. As an international brand, this is even a greater value. Whether you are a millennial, international or local buyer, more people are buying from long distances, as our world becomes a smaller place. This provides a service experience on a completely different level.
- Business Efficiency: The new technology gives brokerages a competitive edge, which helps sell properties faster. According to immoviewer, brokers using VR technology are able to sell properties 32% quicker than without a virtual experience. We have found that our advisors simply showcasing this capability during a listing presentation, sets such a high standard that most cannot compete with.
Engel & Völkers North America launches VR technology at Exchange 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida. Exchange is an annual event that connects like-minded individuals, absolute innovators and industry game-changers in the Engel & Völkers network.
From a company standpoint, having this client-focused technology at your fingertips puts you way ahead of everyone else. Current statistics in the U.S. show that only 9% of agents or brokerages offer a virtual experience. By this logic, having VR as an offering puts a brokerage ahead of 91% of the marketplace. As for the technology, immoviewer is the first supplier of broker-run virtual property tours; the camera is user-friendly, making it easier to capture quality 3D images.
The future of real estate really lies in VR, and if you don’t adopt it, you stand to be left behind. Like I said: game-changing.
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