Real estate needs to embrace digital disruption

With the real estate industry tipped to be the first cab off the rank when it comes to adopting virtual reality (VR) technology, the CEO of Starr Partners believes agents need to view it as an opportunity not a threat.

With Facebook recently completing the multi-billion dollar purchase of leading VR company Oculus, and with the likes of Apple and Google lining up to invest in the technology, it looks like VR is on its way into the mainstream market.   

CEO of Starr Partners Doug Driscoll told Real Estate Business that it's inevitable VR will have an impact on real estate in the short to medium term, but he is sceptical whether it will take off for everyday work use.

“With Facebook throwing $2 billion at it they’re clearly looking at the masses,” said Mr Driscoll.

“I can see it immediately being picked up by architects and top-end interior designers,” said Mr Driscoll. “In the short term, it will be very much about helping people visualise their future home."

Although he can envisage a certain degree of traction in the real estate industry, Mr Driscoll cautioned that it's hard to overlook the fact, as humans, we’re very tactile.

“You can never underestimate how tactile we are,” said Mr Driscoll. “For property buyers, the look, touch and feel is so important. You get the sense of looking with VR, but you don’t get touch, feel and ambience.”

He also believes that VR is part of an upcoming trend in digital technology that is going to have an impact on how real estate agents do business, but that it’s not something to fear.

“I think our industry should really embrace digital disruption,” said Mr Driscoll. “It’s sometimes something that we’re a bit standoffish about; we’re scared it’s something that will put us out of a job.

“I think digital disruption is a really positive thing. We’ve got to keep up with it. Obviously, change is inevitable and it can only be a good thing. Digital disruption is not a threat and should be embraced."


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