Strict lockdown measures in the Czech Republic and elsewhere have sent the global real-estate market into a steep decline. Now virtual viewings, once considered a somewhat gimmicky add-on to most online property listings, are stepping into the spotlight as agents sell homes to clients before they even set foot on the premises.
Prague Lux, a real-estate agency serving a largely foreign clientele, was an early adapter of augmented-reality technology. Its senior broker Ian Peters believes that 3D virtual property tours are not only a necessity in light of the current circumstances but could prove a game-changer for the real estate sector in the Czech Republic and worldwide.
“I think we are going to start hearing a whole new terminology surrounding the real estate sector,” says Peters. “Instead of a weekend viewing, agents will plan a ‘digital open house’ or schedule a ‘remote viewing.'” He says the industry will need to adapt to these changes quickly as clients everywhere seek safer, more convenient ways to search for the home of their dreams.
Prague Lux agents have had proven success using AR/VR technology long before the pandemic hit, according to Peters.
“Even prior to the outbreak, the technology was a convenient way for our overseas buyers to be able to view our listings in a much richer way than simply looking at photos and videos,” says the New York-based agent (who has a recurring role on the hit reality show Million Dollar Listing New York). In his experience, virtual tours tend to greatly influence clients in their decision making.
Given the current situation, Peters believes that the Czech real estate market, as well as the whole global industry, will see a widespread investment in this technology. “More buyers are already embracing this new form of technology and new method of transactions,” he says, adding that for Prague Lux sellers virtual tours have resulted on average in a 40% increase in interest from potential buyers.
Prague Lux uses Matterport technology to capture a space from all possible angles giving clients the opportunity to wander around as if they are actually there. This high-resolution 3D viewing gives buyers a 360-degree perspective, allowing them to get a feel for the size, space, and dimensions of a property from just about any angle. The viewings can be seen on smartphones as well as computers and other devices.
Prague Lux works closely with Matterport, the go-to 3D virtual software for the real estate market which reported a sudden spike in demand for its 3D virtual viewing software and hardware once it became clear that Europe and North America were going to implement similar coronavirus lockdowns to those seen in China.
While Prague Lux serves a wealthier foreign clientele — castles and multiple penthouses in Prague’s Vinohrady quarter are among it current listings — Peters says the technology isn’t just ideal for the luxury property market.
“This technology can be used for all types of properties and budgets. It is cost-effective and perfect for small real estate brokers whose houses are sold or rented quickly,” he says. Prague3D, an arm of Prague Lux, is currently offering businesses across all industries its virtual scanning services which can render any property from homes to resorts, event spaces, or even construction sites, into an interactive, fully-immersive space.
Peters, who recently sold a Prague property to a client sight unseen via virtual tour, admits that there may be some disadvantages of not seeing a property in person. “You miss out on smells and acoustics, the lighting at a certain time of day, you can’t experience the actual entry to the building,” he says. But he still predicts virtual tours will remain the safest, most convenient way to show/view an apartment in the era of COVID-19.
Peters believes that it’s too soon to predict what will happen on the real estate market in the coming year, but say no matter what a new norm has been established.
“The pandemic has affected the market by forcing real estate companies and agents to re-evaluate their business model. It’s a bit too early to say how the market will look one year from now but if you don’t already offer VR technology to your clients, you may be too late.”
To find out more about Prague Lux’s virtual scanning service Prague Lux 3D, visit here.