The reason, says Ali Reaziat, marketing and training manager at Apostrophe Solutions, is technology has shifted consumer expectations. While open houses have traditionally revealed little beyond pictures prior to showings, house hunters can now practically visit properties without being present.
Reaziat asks: Why spend 25 minutes driving to a property you know little about in the likely event you’ll leave disappointed, only to drive another 25 minutes back home?
“You can use technology to give much faster and in-depth information during or after a visit,” said Reaziat. “It used to be that a realtor would have a feature sheet and people would carry that catalog sheet during the showing.”
Realty brokerages offer virtual property tours at their offices wherein prospective buyers can visit every room inside a home and view its exterior.
“Before I go to a house to see the property, I have a good understanding of what the property looks like, but it gets further enhanced with virtual reality,” he said. “I can have a walk-through of the property. People can wear googles and view a property without having to travel 45 minutes to see it.”
Potential buyers can also learn about a home’s most minute details, like when the roof was last replaced or what kind of furnace is in the basement. These particulars are salient because the buyer can factor a home’s future cost into their decision to purchase, or even use it as a bargaining chip.
With the help of sophisticated AI algorithms, social media is being used by clued in sales agents and brokerages to precisely identify who might be interested in buying a particular home.
“On Facebook, you know a lot about clients, like when they’re having a new kid or when they’re buying cars, and AI is training the automated features of social media to enable you to use technological tools to make sense of what’s going on out there in the lives of your target audience to create content that would resonate with them.
“AI lets you figure out who to promote properties to. If it’s a garage add-on, you’d find somebody who just a bought a new car. It finds those people for you—their financial status, whether or not they just bought an SUV or a sports sedan.”
Debbie Cosic, founder and CEO of In2ition Realty, says that, without a doubt, technology has changed the real estate industry, and that there’s no sign of it abating.
“Technology is changing real estate like a speeding bullet, and people who don’t get on the bandwagon will get left behind,” she said. “We’ve seen crazy things at conventions where they talk about robots holding open houses for agents.
“Even the technology being used for open houses has changed things immensely because now you can put goggles on and walk through not just one house, but five or six, without leaving the realtor’s office. You can even have a virtual walk-through of the neighbourhood to see what the schools and other amenities are.”
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Technology has become a great disruptor in too many industries to count, and the argument can certainly be made that real estate is perhaps the most susceptible.