Guest post from our series of Property Futures by Edouard Bessire of PropertyScape:
The future of property is virtual
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” Mark Twain said. And technology’s journey within the property market has definitely started. In the last few years technology has taken an increasingly central role in property, and it will disrupt the entire industry over the next twenty years. In the last year alone PropertyTech startups worldwide raised a record high of $1.7B across more than 190 deals. We see this momentum not only in NYC, the world’s largest commercial real estate market and auto proclaimed epicenter of PropertyTech innovation, but also in Europe and especially in the UK with London leading the way.
A technology which is getting a lot of media attention at present is virtual reality. Like many new technologies it is easy to see virtual reality as just another cool piece of tech or marketing gimmick. But let me be blunt: virtual reality will become central in property within the next 10 years. Millennials will use virtual reality when buying their first property.
Virtual reality is the opposite of teleportation. Instead of you going somewhere, it brings the place you want to see to you, whether real or imaginary. You wear a headset which is basically goggles with a screen. That virtual reality headset tracks the movements of your head and adapts the view very quickly. So you look around and feel like you are somewhere else, totally immersed. The first functioning virtual reality environment came in 1968, and we saw the first virtual reality products in the early 90s. But it is the recent technological developments made primarily by the mobile industry that has brought virtual reality back into the foreground, and it is here to stay.
Although the technology has yet to reach mass market, virtual reality is already relevant in property today. Buying a property is one of the biggest decisions in people’s life. Therefore using virtual reality already makes sense from a business perspective even if it is not part of everyday life just yet. At PropertyScape, we launched a virtual reality solution that allows property developers to market off-plan properties. We convert architectural models into virtual reality experiences. Prospective buyers and investors can walk through a property before construction has even started, and our application lets the agent take control of the viewing by changing light, furniture, etc in real-time. We also provide virtual reality viewings of existing properties for estate agents and are already working on how the technology will reach mass market.
Virtual reality not only solves some of today’s problems but has great potential, especially in the second-hand market. It is often said in property that agents don’t sell properties but viewings. That is because many prospective buyers do not know what they are looking for and are waiting for that magical ‘feeling’ when they will ‘just know’ it’s the right home for them. And that makes the job of the agent difficult, as they need to get their clients across the door of as many listed properties as possible. That is why virtual reality viewing is not just the new generation of property visualization, because the experience and immersion it provides allows buyers to get that magical ‘feeling’ without physically going to the property! After just a quick tour of one of our virtual reality viewings, users feel as if they have been in the property. They can even draw the floorplan from memory.
Virtual reality still has a lot of progress to make and we will see significant technological improvements and consumer adoption in the next decade. Today property developers and estate agents can market off-plan properties better with our solution and there is so much more to come. PropertyTech is going to deeply transform the industry over the next decade. Virtual reality will have a key role in that transformation and we want to be ahead of that change. So at PropertyScape, we got started.
A company bio: PropertyScape
PropertyScape was founded by computer engineers and business graduates of the Imperial College London during summer 2015. They have developed a one-stop-shop virtual reality viewing solution for property developers. @_PropertyScape_
A contributor bio: Edouard Bessire, Co-Founder & COO at PropertyScape
Edouard graduated in Applied Mathematics & Computer Science in France before undertaking a Masters from Imperial College Business School. With a great understanding of technology and business, he then co-founded PropertyScape.