Apartment tour on the Holodeck
Are you looking for a home in Mexico, large, luxurious, with pool and fascinating views? Maybe the Casa Fox in the tourist resort of Los Cabos would be something for you. Four bedrooms, six bathrooms, an outdoor kitchen and a hot tub are included, and even membership in an exclusive yacht club is included in the purchase price of just under four million dollars.
However, even for a wealthy clientele, it is a bit expensive to fly to the Mexican Pacific coast to visit a house. But that’s not necessary: The real estate agency Engel & Völkers offers a 3-D tour of the dream house on its website.
The interested party can not only look at photos on the computer, but also navigate through the villa with a mouse click. He then discovers, for example, the many fitness equipment of the current residents, can enjoy the nocturnal view of the lights of Los Cabos and wonder how he wants to furnish the living room.
3-D-visits via Smartphone
Virtual tours are currently fundamentally changing real estate marketing. “Virtual reality offers the opportunity to make real estate tangible without having to visit it on site,” says Thomas Schroeter, Managing Director of Immobilien Scout GmbH. Their portal Immobilienscout24 is also experimenting with 3-D visits. It allows realtors and other housing marketers to use the Matterport camera system.
The system of the American company of the same name can scan interiors in three dimensions and then map them online in the form of virtual tours. Thanks to the camera, potential home buyers or tenants can take virtual tours on any PC or smartphone.
According to Schroeter, this is a quantum leap. “The way prospective buyers look for apartments today is still traditional,” he says. “The search lists on the Internet work a bit like newspaper ads. On the other hand, we want to focus on how consumers actually want to look for apartments.”Customers should get a realistic impression of their future place of residence in order to be able to decide whether a visit on site is worthwhile.
Inquiries from Singapore, and India
Matterport technology is also used at Engel & Völkers. Since the beginning of 2017, the brokerage company has been working with this system – not only in Mexico, but also in Germany. The realtors have thus digitally mapped an almost five million euro condominium in the Hamburg district of Othmarschen, for example.
Christian Evers, member of the Executive Board of Engel & Völkers, says the possibility of a virtual tour is very well received. Among other things, there have been inquiries from Singapore and India. “Through the digital property presentation, our real estate consultants can carry out the inspection in realistic quality regardless of time and location,” Evers explains. This contributes significantly to “increasing the efficiency of the marketing process”.
Of course, 3-D visits are also in the interest of the brokers. You avoid appointments with potential customers who realize after a glance that the object is not for them. In the future, so the expectation, these prospective customers will realize already on the domestic sofa that the apartment does not meet their expectations.
Brokers with 360-degree cameras
“Virtualization of apartments and houses for marketing will increase,” Lukas Pieczonka is convinced. He is the founder and managing director of McMakler, a company that combines real estate brokerage with state-of-the-art technical possibilities. All brokers working for the company have 360-degree cameras that allow you to create virtual tours.
The customer decides whether this option is actually used. “One third of our customers already use virtual tours to put their property in the right light,” reports Pieczonka. “Unnecessary appointments on site can be avoided, as only those interested would like to visit the real estate in reality, who have already enjoyed the virtual tour.“
The Immowelt portal, in which Axel Springer (“Bild”, WELT) is involved, follows a slightly different path of increasing efficiency. In October, the company presented its latest marketing tool at the Expo Real real estate fair: a live-stream tour of the apartment.
To organize these, the broker only needs a special app. Then he goes with his smartphone through the apartment or the house and films all the rooms. Interested parties can click on their smartphone or tablet and follow the visit. Via chat function you also have the opportunity to ask the broker questions.
This livestream offer has not yet been launched, but it will be online shortly, says a spokeswoman for Immowelt. “Especially for people who live far away from their future desired place of residence, this saves time on the first visit.“
Via virtual reality in the unbuilt house
This means that the technical possibilities are not yet exhausted. “The first project developers are experimenting with visualising apartments that have not yet been built – in such detail that you can even see what the light is like,” says Thomas Schroeter, HEAD of Property Scout24. “In this way, even projects that have just been created on the drawing board can be experienced.“
The Karlsruhe-based company Inreal Technologies, for example, is active in this field. “We are firmly convinced that virtual inspections in real estate marketing will become standard in just a few years,” says CEO Enrico Kürtös – especially for new buildings.
This is illustrated by Nina Gass, who as Director Sales at Inreal Technologies is responsible for the “Living” area. “If potential tenants or buyers can experience buildings that are being built live on screen long before they are built, they get a completely different feeling for their new office or home – and usually decide much faster,” she writes in the company blog. This makes virtual reality a valuable marketing tool for project developers.
3-D models of office buildings
It is no coincidence that Gass also addresses the office area. Not only for home buyers, but also for office users, virtual visits are becoming increasingly important. BNP Paribas Real Estate, a global real estate consulting firm, has recognised this.
At Mipim, the world’s most important real estate trade show, held in Cannes in March, she introduced the use of a technology that allows prospective tenants and potential investors to visit real estate without having to be there.
The customer puts on 3-D glasses and can then virtually visit the 3-D models of the buildings that interest him. At a distance there is a real estate consultant with whom the customer can exchange ideas. “This virtual tour, “says BNP Paribas Real Estate,” gives the customer a realistic impression-as if they were on site themselves.“
In the housing sector, meanwhile, there is another approach to facilitate the search for the right property: voice control. Immobilienscout24 CEO Schroeter sees great potential in this. “An apartment seeker, “he explains,” can say to Alexa or Siri, for example, that he is looking for an apartment in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg with a fireplace – and then he is shown only apartments with a fireplace.”According to Schroeter, this search method has the advantage of being “much more intuitive than working with a mouse and keyboard.”
Apartment search via Alexa-Skill
This approach has already been implemented by competitor Immowelt. There, interested parties can use the voice assistant Amazon Echo (Alexa) to search for their dream home. For this purpose, the company developed its own skill (this is what the apps are called at Alexa).
“Alexa immediately answers how many objects there are with the desired properties,” says the Immowelt spokesperson. “In order to look at the favorites in detail, it is of course useful to look at the photos and descriptions on the portal afterwards immowelt.de view.“
How often the skill has already been installed, she does not reveal. “Exact user numbers do not play a major role for us yet,” she explains. It is much more important to be part of the new technology from the beginning and to test its potential.
In view of all these technical possibilities, will the old-fashioned sightseeing soon become superfluous? The experts agree that this will not happen. Because buying a property, says Christian Evers of Engel & amp; Völkers, is always associated with emotions. “Therefore, the on-site visit as well as the individual advice by an expert continue to play an important role.“