In their simplest form virtual tours have been used by commercial and residential sales agents for many years through the use of property photos which offer a prospective buyer the ability to experience a property and make a value judgement from a remote location without having to visit beforehand. This enables a viewing shortlist to be achieved and thus saving on valuable time.
Today’s property buyers are often very sophisticated and time poor, wanting unfettered access to clear and high quality information which offer a truthful and accurate picture of the properties they are interested in viewing with as few unexpected surprises as possible.
We are all familiar with the anger of having had our time
wasted when property photos show an unrealistic picture and look nothing like the actual property being viewed, or miss key information. Nothing undermines a buyer-agent relationship more quickly than the feeling that one has been deceived through inaccurate marketing.
In parallel, access to property information is increasingly becoming polarised around a small number of internet based websites namely:
THEONSITEMANAGER.COM.AU for management rights and commercial properties and REALESTATE.COM.AU for residential sales, there are other players in the market although the majority of potential buyers will visit these sites in the first, and often only, instance.
With this property listing polarisation comes an increasing need to ‘stand out from the crowd’ and this is where exciting new technologies are available which will become increasingly more important and will soon be demanded by potential viewers. There are several different types of these advanced virtual tours which are compatible with
THEONSITEMANAGER.COM.AU, REALESTATE.COM.AU, FACEBOOK and most websites, the most effective being as follows:
360 Degree Panosphere Photography
Using professional DSLR cameras and photo processing, this sophisticated type of tour offers the highest quality images of both internal and external property views, provide the
ability to embed youtube videos, additional image and PDF based information to offer buyers extensive information about a property and offer the fastest tour delivery response time. Usually costing low to mid $100s for a typical tour. Here is a recent example we completed for a RAAS listing:
Matterport Camera Modelling
Using technology derived from the Xbox Kinect, this exciting new camera allows non-professional photographers to make computer based models of, primarily, internal spaces. Although tour delivery speed is often quite a bit slower and photo quality lower, this technology will become increasingly important in the future as Virtual Reality starts to become more widely available. Usually costing mid-high $100s for a typical tour. Here is a recent example that we completed for a cyber security conference recently:
360 Degree Video Tour
With many low quality consumer grade video cameras becoming available, it is important to use professional grade 360 video camera rigs for optimal video quality. For example, our camera rigs consist of 6 and 10 GoPro Hero 4 black cameras, each recording video at Ultra High Definition at 30 FPS. Apart from generating massive amounts of video data, the picture quality is
excellent. The final videos can be added to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and most websites. Once in YouTube, they can be easily added to a property listing. Video tours typically include the sales agent guiding a buyer through a property as if they were really accompanying them or including a professional audio track to guide a prospect through the property high points. 360 video tours usually cost mid to high $100s for a typical example. Here are some basic examples of a 360 Video we took from the recent Chevron Island festival:
Headmounted Display Devices (HMDs)
Over the last year a number of virtual reality devices have been released which allow property buyers to view property virtual tours as if they were actually inside the property from any where in the World. These include the Google Cardboard and Daydream, Samsung GearVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. All of the virtual tours described in this article are compatible with these headsets. Apart from being interesting from a purely technical perspective this actually means that there has already been a paradigm shift in property marketing, for the first time it is possible for a buyer to visit a property instantly from anywhere in the World. Current estimates are seeing HMDs being adopted rapidly and at an exponential rate, it is predicted that by 2023 Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) will be main stream and disrupt almost all areas of our lives.
I have recently had conversations with several experienced real estate agents confidently describing how AR/VR has no place in helping to sell property. This reminds me of a similar
conversation I had with a taxi firm owner only a couple of years ago when I asked if he was worried about a newly arrived player called Uber. He was similarly dismissive and almost arrogant in his predication that this was nothing to worry about. Within 12 months he was extremely worried and less than 12 months after that fighting hard to keep his business afloat. Now when I travel locally I call an Uber.
Similar to Uber, VR/AR are disruptive technologies which have $billions invested by the top global tech firms. Make no mistake the way that we do business will change massively as the technology increasingly becomes available. Anyone who dismisses this fact runs the risk of being left behind very quickly. I predict a worried look will start to appear on the heads of these same ‘experts’ within a very short time period as they realise that the business World they are so comfortable with has changed beyond their comprehension.