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House Hunting in the Digital Age

No matter where in the world you are looking to rent or buy, it is likely that your house hunting market is overrun with complex, time consuming – and in most cases tire­some – rituals. Whether sear­ching for a shared dorm room or a multi-million-dollar estate, there is usually a seismic shift of emotions when the house hunt trans­forms from exci­te­ment to turmoil. We all know the problems… but is there a solu­tion?! Can tech­no­logy ease the pain of buil­ding a nest?

To put it simply, yes. Obviously there is no miracle solu­tion to real estate agents and landlords, but there are defi­ni­tely some very cool gadgets, tools and tech­no­lo­gies out there to help the average Jane and Joe.

VIRTUAL REALITY

Photo­graphy and video are a core tool for real estate marke­ting. However, these images are far too often and easily mani­pu­lated to create intri­cate illu­sions of space that simply don’t exist. The prac­tice is so common­place, it often doesn’t matter if an add includes care­fully orches­trated photos, terrible photos or none. As soon as you arrive to look around, the real perspec­tive kicks-in to reveal a broom closet sized apart­ment (which the agent none­theless assures you is a bargain).

Virtual Reality is actively combat­ting this in the Real Estate realm – and I’m going put it out there – it seems like the perfect match for VR. The reasons are simple… To start with, 360 photo and video perspec­tives are extre­mely realistic for gauging room size and depth without any tricky camera angles (even with a card­board / smart­phone combo). Not to mention, with the Samsung S7’s combi­na­tion with the GearVR you can expect some great reso­lu­tion for a mobile phone VR!

Secondly, the costs for produc­tion and consump­tion are unbe­liev­ably cheap compared to the costs you would expect for the produc­tion of tradi­tional high-quality image films. To view a property all you need is a smart­phone – which most people have – with the option of an addi­tional card­board, GearVR or Daydream. For produc­tion you just need a 360 camera (with high end cameras star­ting at $399), a 360 app plat­form (monthly subscrip­tions star­ting at $200) and no expe­ri­ence with either! The afforda­bi­lity – espe­ci­ally since the camera is a one-off cost – and speedy produc­tion make VR a very attrac­tive tool for agents with a high turnover of proper­ties. For hotel owners the oppor­tu­nities here are even more sustainable.

Now stick a 360 camera onto your drone. Need I say more…

DRONES:

Did you say drones?! Well… commer­cial drones are now being used to attain swee­ping aerial images of proper­ties before rent or sale to avoid arri­ving at a viewing only to discover that your future neigh­bour is in fact a construc­tion site and soon to be multi-level carpark. A 2016 NAR survey of over 150,000 US real estate agents found that 23% of real estate agents are already using drones to market their proper­ties and that a further 20% were cons­i­de­ring using them. This spark in drone inte­rest is not without cause… the results are fantastic! Not only do house hunters get a great view of the surroun­ding neigh­bour­hood, but also a full aerial view of the property – no more broken roof tile surprises!

The exten­sive over­views provided by drones are simpli­fying the elimi­na­tion process faced when pain­fully sifting through thousands of property ads. With a more realistic over­view, house-hunters are able to effi­ci­ently limit their viewings to the proper­ties that are of most rele­vant to their needs – no more wasted time consuming appoint­ments and most import­antly… no more wasted weekends! The drones are even getting so small that they can fly inside! Don’t believe it? Here are few examples and a list of some of the best drones to make it happen.

AUGMENTED REALITY

Real Estate VR is already here, Real Estate AR is the dark horse with huge disrup­tive poten­tial. Imagine walking through your dream neigh­bour­hood with an app that uses your smart­phone camera to show holo­grams with key infor­ma­tion on the houses or flats that are up for sale or rent.

These markers could even include filter func­tions for price or key features so that you only see the proper­ties that are rele­vant for you (because what’s the point of looking at a place that doesn’t have a hot tub). Just click on the holo­gram to see inside the property with 360 photos and videos. Like what you see? Then contact the agent in real-time to remote unlock the front door and have a look around. The app could then even point out holo­gra­phic points of inte­rest inside the property! Send your rental appli­ca­tion through the app and your done!

The crazy thing is that this tech­no­logy is not so distant. The Google Tango tech­no­logy is already being used with depth sensors to map envi­ron­ments and show addi­tional information.

It is also expected that the upco­ming iPhone 8 will include AR tech­no­logy as a stan­dard camera feature. In general, the Augmented Reality tech­no­logy to make this happen already exists… It is only a matter of time until it explodes as an ever­yday feature of exis­ting apps. Again, for the hotel industry there is astro­no­mical poten­tial here – just stand in the city centre with an iPhone to find a room with AR, view it in VR and then book in seconds!

So there you have it! This is just the tip of the iceberg for some of the cool tech­no­lo­gical solu­tions out there for house hunters and real estate agents alike. Exis­ting VR camera and plat­form tech­no­logy as well as drones and remote access is already avail­able. Many of us are already working in smart offices with connected systems or living in smart homes which IoT solu­tions turning on the heating and lights as we arrive home at night. The possi­bi­li­ties are expan­ding and Augmented Reality is at our doorstep…

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