A short generation ago, when MLS® listings first became available online, the real estate industry was in a state of excitement and turbulence.
Now roughly 20 years later, even the most old-school REALTOR® has been weaned off of filing cabinets and fax machines and has adapted to the internet age. Today we think back on the early 90s and wonder how we ever managed our real estate listings before the internet.
The introduction of online MLS® was only one of the most recent in a series of fundamental changes in real estate marketing. The Social Media Revolution was another, even more recent one. Major improvements and shifts in the way real estate business is conducted have been happening since as far back as we know.
“In the late 1800s, real estate brokers regularly gathered at the offices of their local associations to share information about properties they were trying to sell. They agreed to compensate other brokers who helped sell those properties, and the first MLS was born, based on a fundamental principle that's unique to organized real estate: Help me sell my inventory and I'll help you sell yours.” (Wikipedia)
Real estate ninjas who have remained agile and spotted opportunity in the changing landscape are the ones who have always levelled-up over the years. If you are a modern real estate marketer who has a grip on the current state of affairs, you might be wondering “What’s the next game-changing trend that REALTORS® should be aware of?”
Enter Virtual Reality
As a concept, virtual reality, or VR, has been around since the early 1960s. The many iterations of VR over the years have each been incrementally better than the last, but in 2014 when Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for $2 billion, things changed. Now there is a variety of competitors in the market; from general options such as Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus) or Google Cardboard to even some real estate-specific products such as Matterport. This product creates immersive virtual reality tours of homes, commercial spaces and places, and was first brought to Vancouver in 2014 by LNG Studios, a local 3D rendering and animation practice.
OK, so you might be thinking, “I already have virtual tours for my listings, so I’m all set”.
But virtual tours and virtual reality are completely different. You might have a YouTube video that was filmed by a cameraman walking through the property. If you’re really cool you’re probably showing visitors a 360-degree photograph of the different rooms in the property. They can use the mouse to control where they are looking, etc. This is definitely a virtual tour, but it is certainly not virtual reality.
Today, virtual reality has reached heights that are truly mind-bending. If you haven’t seen the photo-realism and total immersion that is possible with a VR headset, watch this video by VR Global in New York right now:
Pretty awesome, right? Now imagine the potential of virtual reality marketing for your real estate business. If you don’t have the time to imagine, fret not – there’s a number of current and upcoming VR marketing opportunities for Canadian REALTORS®.
Efficiency and Innovation
How many times have you spent an entire Saturday and Sunday driving your client around the city, taking them to 10+ properties that they are “serious” about? Trade in your fancy sports car for a VR headset and change the fundamental way you do business.
Your client is not actually serious about 10 listings, so why not boil those 10 down to two or three before you take them out to the physical address? With VR you will be able to take your clients through a detailed home tour from the comfort of your office or even their living room – in hours, not days. Just hand them the VR headset, load the VR tour of the property, and run your pitch.
Your client will be looking through the headset at their virtual property in awe. As they “stand” in the property and look around, they will be delighted at how cutting edge their REALTOR® is and shocked at how incredibly realistic the whole VR experience feels. Meanwhile, you will be able to monitor what they are looking at, so that you can actually cater the home tour to them with a relevant, live narrative.
By the way, I’m not talking about some concept that is years away. This is happening right now in the real estate industry around North America. In an interview with Fortune.com, Sotheby's real estate agent Matthew Hood said:
“I can lead a VR tour remotely and even see where the client is looking, which allows me to address things like a kitchen counter style while they’re looking at it, just as I would in a real world tour.” (Full interview here)
For your business in particular, VR marketing has the potential to save you dozens of hours a month. Imagine what you could do with your free time.
Next time: How VR is changing presales, plus gamification and neighbourhood immersion