Real estate coach Tom Panos and REA Group’s Nigel Dalton discuss a new wave of technology not only set to make a colossal impact on the real estate industry, but also available to agents at a very small cost.
When it comes to technological innovation, agents usually go one of two ways: they willingly pay the often high prices or decide they are against it altogether.
But what if we were to tell you that you can up the ante in all things technology and innovation by spending as little as $10?
Mr Panos recently interviewed REA Group chief information officer Nigel Dalton about a gadget that is seamlessly sweeping under the feet of many agents – virtual reality glasses.
The nitty gritty
A quick Google search for virtual reality glasses shows us they are becoming immensely popular with forward-thinking techies. Cardboard or plastic, sleek or grand, neutral shaded or coloured – the options available are limitless at stores such as Oculus, Sony, HTC, Samsung – and of course, Google has its own product.
But how do they actually work?
Put simply, virtual reality glasses trick the wearer into believing they are looking at an environment they are not actually in.
According to PC World games reporter Hayden Dingman, virtual reality glasses work by rendering photographs into 3D imagery.
This allows the wearer to feel as though they are in a location, even though they may be hundreds of kilometres away from it.
“The effect is aided by a number of sensors in and/or around the device – gyroscopes, infrared dots, etc. These are tracked, allowing what you’re looking at to react when you turn your head, nod, or even lean forward,” Mr Dingman explains.
So, how can virtual reality glasses help agents with their clients?
First, they offer an immense point of difference. Agents who incorporate this into their proposition are increasingly likely to achieve 'shock and awe' and win brownie points for innovative, forward-thinking marketing.
The tech specs also provide an opportunity for agents to show their client a home, without their having to actually visit it. The life-like device is the best option available for clients who are unable to attend an inspection.
In his interview with trainer Tom Panos, REA Group’s Nigel Dalton cited the many benefits of agents incorporating virtual reality glasses into their service proposition.
“There’s a great quote – ‘the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed',” Mr Dalton says.
“If you’re looking in the wrong places, you’re not going to find any of these gadgets… But if you look in the places where I’m paid to look, which is Google, Facebook, AirBnb, eBay – they’re all over this.”
Mr Dalton says agents need to take a lesson from these powerhouses and have virtual reality glasses “accessible for the average person on the street” as it will help “drive the uptake of people in the property process”.
“This is going to sound pretty geeky but this is what I would do,” he says.
“I would take the power of this device (a smartphone), that every family has, every person in the family now has, and all the content that’s out there in virtual reality – the split screen, proper 3D virtual reality stuff – I’d take along to my presentation [with] a set of these $10 glasses as a gift and I would say, ‘It might not be for you, but we have done some listings in virtual reality and I can show you a couple of those and it’ll be very engaging’.
“This is the leading edge we’re at.”
Mr Panos agrees that agents need to realise the value of virtual reality glasses.
The glasses will help agents position themselves as being the “innovative, cutting-edge agent, right at the front of technology”, he says.
“[You're not] saying that their property is going through the [entire property] process,” he says, “but what you’re saying to them is that you’re in that 1 per cent in the field that is above everyone else.
Director and auctioneer with Ouwens Casserly Real Estate, Alexander Ouwens, is one agent who has decided to use virtual reality glasses in his business.
“We were the first company in Australia to put the virtual reality technology into the goggles, so that was pretty cool,” he says.
“We weren’t the smart ones that thought of it; we were just in the right place at the right time and I think that it’s going to be an interesting space to look at over the course of the next three or four years."
Mr Ouwens says the positives generally outweigh any negatives when it comes to the equipment's effectiveness.
“The technology is still a couple of years away from being really slick – it’s still a bit clunky. A few people get a little bit of sea sickness when they first put the goggles on, but it works really well for overseas purchases,” he says.
“About 10 or 11 properties are sold to internationals in our firm, and we’ve sent a few pairs of those goggles off overseas and they can look through all our listings without actually attending the property.
“[They] can basically walk through the property, look up and down, walk through the rooms and make [their] way through the house.”
Mr Ouwens suggests treating virtual reality glasses as a tool that complements an agent's overall proposition.
“[While] there’s definitely a space for virtual reality, and I think that it will grow, at the end of the day, I think that nothing beats actually walking through the home itself,” he says.
“[But] it’s something you need to embrace.”