11 September 2017 - The world today has technology more closely integrated with every aspect of the human experience, and by extension, the business cycle. The real estate industry is no exception. Thanks to technological advancement, information of all types, including pricing, availability, and alternative services are now one click away, which has fundamentally changed the way people conduct research when purchasing a home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 90 percent of home buyers search online at some point during their home buying process and 70 percent use video to evaluate a home’s interior. Riding on the digital trend, the two largest Hong Kong property agencies, Centaline Property Agency Limited and Midland Realty, poured more than HKD 20 million into developing 3D virtual tours of their properties, enabling a remote yet immersive property viewing experience. Read on to learn how the digital wave is sweeping the property sector.
1. 360° property virtual tours take property viewing to the next level.
Compared with still images, virtual tours provide potential buyers with a more interactive and enhanced experience with a realistic perspective of the apartment. Interested buyers can virtually walk through as many properties as desired and make more informed decisions before scheduling an in person visit. According to Centaline Property Agency Limited, 5 percent of potential buyers watch virtual reality videos before contacting an agent to schedule a viewing, and 30 percent of deals closed were with the aid of a virtual tour. Not only do virtual home tours save time and money by reducing unnecessary personal visits, business efficiency is improved as 3D videos reduce mismatched expectations between buyers and sellers. OKAY.com offers complimentary filming of 360 virtual tours for sole agent listings.
2. Online property listings encourage advanced property searches and easier comparisons.
In 2016, 87.5 percent of the Hong Kong population were internet users, within which 98 percent used smartphones to access the Internet, according to the Census and Statistics Department. Online property listings are therefore indispensable in catering to the digitally-savvy population. Highly segmented databases help narrow down options for potential home buyers based on interest. Filtering by location makes comparing properties and arranging viewings across multiple districts easier than ever before. With mobile apps, searchers can access all property-related information at their fingertips and even receive notifications about the latest real estate news and listings that match their search criteria. Powered by websites and mobile apps, a comprehensive digital library of property listings offers ample opportunity for buyers to make better-informed decisions and expedite the purchasing process.
3. Cloud technology allows remote access to internal property data and boosts business performance.
According to an IDC research, 65 percent of enterprises in Asia Pacific committed to some form of cloud solution in 2016, and the real estate industry is keeping up with the trend. By adopting cloud computing, property agents no longer have to maintain in-house servers for storing extensive real estate statistics. With any device that has an internet connection, a property agent can immediately log in to check their cloud database and answer a buyers’ queries. Cloud adoption reduces up to 15 percent of IT expenditure on managing data servers. On the other side, prompt access to data enables agents to offer timely assistance to clients, which facilitates a higher number of transactions and drives business performance.
Like any other industry, the Hong Kong property market is undergoing a digital transformation catalyzed by the Information Age. The internet has become the first, second, and possibly last consultant of numerous types of information related to property searching. Property agents have recognized the use of such mediums and are increasing their online presence, innovating with the likes of 360 virtual tours and cloud infrastructure to improve online service quality. With more cutting-edge inventions like 3D Building Information Modeling and virtual agent robots coming to the property industry, there are many more digital trends to get excited about in the near future.