Let the virtual reality arms race begin

Virtual reality listings loom as the next battleground of real estate practice, with agencies running the risk of getting left behind if they refuse to participate.

Many agents seem keen to invest in the technology – according to a recent REB poll, 78.5 per cent of respondents said that they plan to offer virtual reality listings or already do.

Another 10.3 per cent said they hadn’t yet made up their mind about virtual reality listings, while 11.2 per cent said they were a waste of time and money.

Laing & Simmons has just turned to virtual reality to market a new development, while Magain Real Estate, which placed first in this year’s Top 50 Sales Offices ranking, is currently running its first virtual reality listing.

The production of Magain’s current listing was outsourced, but the Adelaide agency has just ordered its own gear and expects to produce its first in-house virtual reality listing before Christmas.

Principal Mike Dobbin said Magain would use virtual reality as a way to impress vendors and stand out in the lounge room.

“It’s a listing tool. We’ll show them examples. We’ll say, ‘Here’s one we just sold and we can do the same for you’,” he told REB.

“Other agents can still do it, because you can just outsource it, but we might be able to offer it at a better price.”

Mr Dobbin said buyers spend more time browsing virtual reality listings than traditional listings, which should translate into greater interest for those properties.

Another advantage is that buyers and sellers are more likely to share virtual reality listings by email and social media, he added.

Abel McGrath principal Adrian Abel, who placed 41st on this year’s Top 100 Agents ranking, said he had been keeping a close eye on virtual reality but didn’t expect to adopt it in the foreseeable future.

Mr Abel told REB that he investigated the technology during a recent visit to Silicon Valley but felt it was still suffering teething problems.

However, Mr Abel also said that his Perth agency prides itself on being innovative and would be loath to allow rivals to embrace virtual reality at his expense.

“That’s the greatest fear of a sales person. We’re the easiest people to sell to because we suffer from a fear of missing out,” he said.

“If it becomes mainstream, obviously I’ll do it, but at the moment I’m not seeing a major demand for it from our clients.”

Mr Abel forecast that gamers would drive the adoption of virtual reality among wider society, and that it would become widespread in real estate in two to five years.

[Related: Agency goes sci-fi with virtual reality listings]

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