Research by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) predicts that digital selling tools will be a key part of the future of real estate as agents increasingly rely on digital products and digital tools to support the sales process. Drone footage, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Near-Field Communication are rapidly growing technologies with strong applications in the real estate industry.
Further supporting this view is a 2016 report published by Goldman Sachs, which forecasts that real estate will be one of the nine key sectors to lead the push of the software market and use of digital tools.
Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “Our research identifies that a rising number of real estate agents will use digital technologies as selling tools as they become more readily available and affordable. Just last week REINZ launched a partnership with virtual reality provider, iStaging, to offer affordable ‘virtual walk through’ open home tours and in a couple of months we are hoping to launch digital signing which will allow agents to accept electronic signatures on legally binding contracts such as Sale & Purchase Agreements, cutting down the amount of time required to finalise a sale.
“Digital tools provide significant opportunities to enhance the customer experience with innovative digital selling tools. The sales process will continue to evolve to cater for these new options unlocked by these new technologies,” she continues.
“With programmes being developed specifically for the real estate sector to use these technologies, we can start to see the potential impact that they will have on the sales process. An example is Augmented Reality giving prospective buyers the ability to overlay their furniture into an open home, creating the illusion of their own belongings in the space,” continues Norwell.
Some examples highlighted in the research as areas of digital advancement that will benefit the real estate industry as selling tools and force the sales process to evolve include:
• Visual imagery enabled by technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) gives potential buyers the opportunity to overlay their personal belongings into open homes, commercial buildings and properties for sale, or overlay building plans onto blank land areas
• Increased use of near-field communication (NFC) technologies, such as Beacons give agents the ability to relay important information about each area of an open home directly to attendees’ phones as they walk through the house or building, such as materials used, energy efficiency, flexibility of space or other key features. Additionally, beacons can be placed on “For Sale” signs and ping to prospective buyers as they pass by
• The use of VR, AR and 3D Walkthroughs gives agents the ability to show multiple homes or commercial buildings from one location if they are taking a prospective buyer through a number of properties, which is especially helpful if the locations are spread out geographically. Additionally, it will give the agents ability to showcase a single property out to a number of potential buyers regardless of their proximity to the property
• Creation of customer profiles thanks to the data captured from digital tools such as Beacons and viewing habits on social media better enable real estate agents to target their prospective buyers down to a specific pool of individuals and enhance their ability to tailor their approach or offerings.
“There are some fantastic technologies making their way into the New Zealand market which open up some great opportunities for agents who are willing to take the lead. Those that do step forward and embrace these technologies will see the benefits in helping to draw in greater numbers of prospective buyers. Additionally, embracing these technologies will place individuals and agencies as market leaders and the first port of call when tech-savvy buyers are entering the market,” points out Norwell.
REINZ has recently been launching a series of new digital products and tools to help real estate agents better serve customers throughout the selling process, including “location profiler” which helps to better understand the demographics of an area and “digital signing” which is close to being released, which will enable agents to expedite the signing of Sale & Purchase agreements and other legally binding documents remotely.
“REINZ is committed to assisting the real estate industry in the digital revolution and ensuring that all members are equipped with the knowledge to adapt to new technologies as the industry evolves,” concludes Norwell.