IMAGINE that you are scouting around for a nice house or a condominium unit, but the options are just too many that it’s quite tedious to go and look at each one personally.
Now, imagine this: Using virtual-reality (VR) technology, you check out your dream home and go to almost every nook and cranny of the space as if you were there. And you do it in the comfort of your own bedroom.
I know this looks like something out of an Alvin Toffler novel, but make no mistake about it—this is actually happening. Real-estate developers and marketers are doing virtual tours to make things more convenient and more exciting for property hunters, and they are doing these tours right now.
You can virtually walk through rooms and facilities using only the browser in your computer. For a more immersive experience, you can use VR goggles that provide 360-degree views of the spaces.
Often associated with gaming and entertainment, VR headsets or goggles are now creating a disruption in many industries, including property development and marketing. With its stereoscopic display and the capacity for immersive storytelling, the headsets give buyers a unique and exciting 360-degree virtual tour—the next best thing to actually being there in the location.
The appeal of virtual tours
It goes without saying that property buyers only make purchase decisions once they’ve completely checked out the house or unit they plan to buy. They’d want to see how big the property is and inspect every part of the unit they plan to purchase or lease.
Simple pictures may give property hunters an idea of a space’s appearance, but these are never enough to truly engage prospective buyers and pique their interest. Their best bet is to actually go to the place and see the place for themselves. Oftentimes, however, the options are just too many and going to each one would be tiring, expensive and time-consuming. This is where virtual tours come in.
Without leaving their homes, property hunters can do virtual ocular inspections of properties they intend to buy and short list those they would want to visit personally. This saves prospective buyers from making unnecessary trips to properties that turn out to be less than what they have in mind.
Local-property portals chime in
VR technology is now poised to revolutionize the property market here in the Philippines. Developers, marketers and brokers have started making use of virtual tours to increase engagement and leads conversion. Moreover, local property-search portals have begun incorporating virtual tours on their web sites to add value to their service.
Lamudi Philippines, for one, touted as the pioneer in the use of VR technology here in the country, held the Philippines’s first-ever VR real-estate expo with the objective of showcasing the most impressive properties from top local developers using the new technology.
Lamudi’s VR Expo was held on September at the Bonifacio High Street Activity Center and was pitched to all property buyers, sellers, renters, landlords, brokers, investors and everyone else who wanted to experience cutting-edge technology applied to the property industry.
PropertyAsia.ph, another property portal, has also incorporated virtual tours of many properties listed in their site. The portal also provides a service where they create virtual tours using Google-Maps-approved spherical cameras. These state-of-the-art devices make the creation of 360-degree virtual tours substantially easier and more affordable for local property brokers and agents.
Moreover, Pro-Friends recently held its first-ever virtual-reality mall tour showcasing the Lancaster New City, a 1,600-hectare township in Cavite. Much like any virtual tour, the Lancaster New City tour allows visitors to feel like they are in an actual unit, experience its true dimensions and space, and see the actual views from inside the property.
Property search portal ZipMatch now also provides virtual tours on its web site, showing 360-degree views of the properties of some of the most prominent developers in the country, like Ayala Land, Rockwell Primaries Development Corp., Anchor Land Holdings, Crown Asia and Megaworld.
The future of virtual tours as a property-marketing tool, however, hinges a lot on how the technology evolves, particularly here in the Philippines. Once the cost of production of 360-degree VR content substantially goes down as the technology matures and more individuals get hold of VR headsets and goggles for whatever purpose, we can expect the practical application of the technology to expand and spread like wildfire.
If this happens and the country embraces VR technology even further, we will see it transforming the local property market into a more dynamic and robust playing field. Not only will VR make the buying process much easier, it will also allow global investors easier access to local properties, thus opening up the market to bigger and more exciting possibilities.