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Real estate – virtual reality

Virtual house tours are becoming popular during lockdown. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

ARTHUR HAWKES
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It’s a familiar scene: you’re greeted by a real estate agent at the door – normally a sharp dresser.

You receive a firm handshake, have a good chat, and then before long you’re pulling at kitchen drawers, flicking light switches on and off, and checking to see if the bathroom door squeaks.

But according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, “real estate services [i.e. relating to the sale and purchase of houses] are not considered to be essential.

“All real estate business must be undertaken from home.”

So, with employees prevented from venturing out, and buyers confined to self-isolation, the personal tour of the home of your dreams is no longer possible – well, not ‘physically’ possible.

This is where agencies across the region have adapted to the new measures, particularly with showing houses and performing appraisals, something they’ve achieved by going virtual.

Rob Slater of Tremains described the changes.

“These include a ‘Matterport’ of the home where purchasers can zoom in and out to see a 3D digital version of the property.

“They are able to rotate it along any axis to view different perspectives, and there is a full digital walk through.”

The technology is a cross between the video game The Sims and Google Maps Streetview.

You can view the property’s interior, like a doll’s house, and also drop yourself in and have a stroll inside.

Slater is also keen to emphasise that these [hopefully] temporary constraints can be overcome with technology.

“The great news for our clients is that we are able to complete the full sales process via digital platforms; this includes listing a home with a digital listing form, promoting a home via a range of digital marketing packages, virtual viewings for potential purchasers, preparing and signing a Sales and Purchase contract, and even presenting the offer ‘face to face’ via platforms such as Zoom and Skype.”

While this doesn’t give you the fullest experience of a viewing, particularly since Smell-O-Vision never really took off, it comes pretty close.

And for some people that’s been enough to pull the trigger, with several agencies in Wairarapa reporting virtual sales since the beginning of the lockdown.

Property Brokers agent Erin Nesdale has embraced this temporary shift to virtual.

“Real estate is ever-changing, but this is one change no one really expected.

“So, it’s really important to move with the times.

“Virtual is the way to go at the moment.

“We’re lucky enough at Property Brokers to have been using it for quite some time, and we’d already sold a number of properties to purchasers overseas who obviously couldn’t come for an open home. So these have been going on for quite some time, but now more than ever.”

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