Google searches suddenly show higher volumes of real estate technology search as virtual reality for real estate, augmented reality for real estate, and 360-degree virtual property tours. What is going on and what changed suddenly? Let us zoom out and away to the current global ‘situation’. As many industries are limping back to normal in the COVID times, the brick and mortar business of real estate too is demonstrating resilience and is adopting the “new normal”. But has it adapted to the changing times and is it using technology effectively? Does real estate really subscribe to the powerful ROI (return on investment) that tech provides? Let us examine further.
The sheer value of real estate is in the ‘real’. In what tangibly exists. Builders sell what they build. What you see is what you get. At the most, a builder or a real estate developer could sell an idea, a vision, or a concept but not without establishing credibility from the past. This could be an outcome of prior successes, financial backing, and a happy client base. In India tier-1 builders like Sobha, Puravankara, Embassy, Brigade, and Prestige Group hold the pinnacle in terms of standards and professionalism. Tier 2 and tier 3 builders also undertake niche, or affordable segments and have demonstrated trust and confidence among their clientele. This is especially true with surging urbanization in the last two to three decades. Remember the Bangalore boom from the 1990s?
An entire parallel economy has been running on the basis of real estate. Not to mention the amount of employment this industry generates. Only recent media and governments declared the real estate industry to be the second-largest employment creator in any economy. On its extreme fringe, we find real estate to be fiercely dependent on labour (mostly migrant), which works its sweat and blood to give us those penthouse views and coveted addresses. Advancements in design & planning tools like BIM (building information modeling), new-age factories producing quality and consistent raw materials and fixtures, and also the formwork process, otherwise known as mivan technology adopted by leaders like MFar Constructions – all of it aids builders in executing projects. PMCs use sophisticated project management tools for scheduling and tracking. High precision sensors can flag the minutest deviations in curing of concrete. Therefore, despite being fundamentally dependent on physical resources, it can be said that real estate has driven the demand for applied technology, most of which remains mute and unnoticed. The end project always gets the limelight, not the means.
Let us visit a typical real estate sales scenario. Representative of Gen Y, Sanjay notices an ad in the newspaper or a billboard of the launch of a new project, or even heard the infamous jingles over the radio during a tedious (read as Bangalore traffic) work commute. Let us assume this story is set in pre-Covid19 times. The young techie would propose the idea of buying his or her first home with his spouse, who in turn, typically, would discuss the project with her family and friends. The techie’s parents are also consulted. A phone call is made to the phone number on the ad followed by the multiple site visits of this family, each to seek consent, approval, counsel from the various stakeholders. For the purchase of a luxury property, with a 4x or 5x deal size, the number of meetings, site, and corporate office visits, and instances of interactions only increase. A booking form is finally filled up at the project/site sales office and the cheque is paid (yes, they still use post-dated paper). A typical sales journey continues with more interactions and visits until the final handover is done. No mention of virtual or augmented reality or even 360-degree virtual tours yet.
So is the sales function of the business process in real estate really covered by new technology? What happens when the world is on lockdown with a pandemic like the CoronaVirus? Is the real estate industry equipped with the right technology tools to address the need to attract markets despite physical site visit constraints? In some geographies, project execution has been reactivated where labour resides on-site. But what about digital enablement of marketing and sales?
Here are some tips from our experience in this field.
Knock knock, immersive technology
Imagine being able to go ‘into’ a project online. Imagine a desktop becoming the most powerful device to showcase project amenities and unit dimensions. What about the possibility of ‘walking around’ an apartment by just turning one’s mobile phone around, possibly on social media posts as well? All this, from clients’ own locations – safe and contactless!
Read our article on: How the real estate industry is already profiting from virtual reality
Websites and social handles have already been used as a standard platform for showcasing projects. They give details about the project and lately the quintessential drone video shots add a birds’ eye perspective to online browsing. Virtual reality and 360-degree virtual tours can now add the much required immersive layer to real estate marketing and sales functions. Furthermore, technology solutions can add infinite more functionality through lead profiling, heat maps of viewer engagement, even personalised appointments with sales representatives. Project brochures for real estate can now be augmented reality (AR) filter-based so as to have safe, contactless engagement. Goodbye to paper brochures! Thereby, maybe even usher in environmentally sustainable practices in real estate?
Therefore we find, immersive technology is now defining the “new normal” in real estate through digitalization of marketing and revenue-facing functions. Do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your specific queries.
Read our article on: Real estate visualization replaces over 80% of a sales pitch with virtual tours