Virtually yours – the real estate revolution

14 | 05 | 20

This autumn, we learnt very quickly how to live at a safe distance. We learnt how to shift many aspects of daily life to the digital, or virtual, world.

It might seem like a new game, but virtual reality is not new. We’ve been experimenting and dabbling with VR for decades. Likewise, the ability to make quick, lo-fi videos and share video calls between two or more people has been around since many of us made the leap to smartphones almost a decade ago.

Then along came COVID-19 and, suddenly, these ‘old’ ideas combined with whatever new tech we could get our hands on, was never more important.

In the real estate industry, a rapid adoption of new and existing technology has, so far, seen property weather the coronavirus storm better than many predicted.

Now, as we slowly start to take steps to return to life as we once knew it, or at least some kind of ‘new normal’, how will the technological revolution continue to shape the way we buy and sell property?

For almost two months there were no open homes and no public auctions, but for those thinking about their next home or investment, there was suddenly a whole lot more time to browse online. The buying public, forced into isolation, also started to think totally differently about how they want to live – and work – at home.

Communities like Aoyuan International’s Woolooware Bay in the Sutherland Shire became even more appealing as a place to self-isolate without feeling isolated.

Residents in the first two completed stages found ways to come together for socially distant drinks and to commemorate Anzac Day across their balconies. While others shared on social media that there’s nowhere else they’d rather be during ‘stay home’ restrictions than their sun-filled, stylishly designed apartments.

At the same time, agents and developers responded to the higher rate of enquiry by delivering a sleek, streamlined virtual experience to keep transactions from stagnating.

Luke Barbuto, Group Sales Operations Manager at Highland Property Group, said email enquiries increased by 20% during the lockdown, with virtual tours, FaceTime inspections and the ‘Auction Now’ online platform driving interactions with buyers. The group also embraced the use of an e-book to showcase Woolooware Bay.

"The e-book incorporates all of the current technologies and collateral in one application," says Luke. "Consumers can use it as a traditional book, flipping through the vibrant pages. But they can also request floorplans, watch a video, conduct virtual tours, book an inspection or make an enquiry."

Director of creative agency Rare ID Peter Howie says e-books are definitely not new, but are very much improved.

"Rather than simply replicating the marketing brochure, we are developing them from the ground up as quick education guides. There is also a lot more scope now to embed rich content – that’s the real opportunity. Virtual walkthroughs, plans, finishes schedules and video content can all be easily housed within the e-book."

"Rather than simply replicating the marketing brochure, we are developing them from the ground up as quick education guides. There is also a lot more scope now to embed rich content – that’s the real opportunity. Virtual walkthroughs, plans, finishes schedules and video content can all be easily housed within the e-book."

Rodney Blackman, Associate Director Sales at Colliers International, says record low interest rates have also driven higher levels of enquiry, particularly in completed stock in Stage 3 at Woolooware Bay.

For Colliers International, increased levels of enquiry saw the company record its strongest total sales result of 2020 seven weeks into NSW’s lockdown period.

At the beginning of Australia’s response to COVID-19, as restrictions grew, leading proptech players were fast-tracking development of online platforms such as DisplaySweet’s ‘OpenPlans’, which was available with two weeks of the shutdown of display suites and open homes.

Described as an online display suite, OpenPlans enables agents to remotely present a project via video conferencing, while buyers can explore 3D plans, walkthroughs and street level views.

It is a solution that DisplaySweets Account Manager Marcus Skeggs says doesn’t seek to replace traditional sales methods but instead "elevate them with technology".

"Buyers are expecting more now," says Marcus. "I think we will see a massive shift in developers using technology to present projects in a professional and seamless way. If anything, COVID-19 has shown us that technology does work and is important."

As we continue to look to life after COVID, Luke agrees that convenience is key.

"There is a place for face to face and virtual interaction. Making life easier for the buyer is the new way forward."

For more information about Woolooware Bay and to see a virtual display apartment, visit www.wooloowarebay.com.au

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This website is supposed for the purpose of providing an impression of Prime Woolooware 3 Pty Ltd and Prime Woolooware 4 Pty Ltd (together, Aoyuan International), and is not intended for any other purpose. All details, images and statements are based on the intention of, and information available to, Aoyuan International as at the time of publication January 2020, and may change due to future circumstances. This website is not legally binding on Aoyuan International. Aoyuan International does not give any warranty in relation to any information contained in this website. Aoyuan International does not accept any liability for loss or damage arising as a result of any reliance on this website or its contents.

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