Virtual Open Homes!

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Technology set to transform the way we search for homes in the future

Advances in digital technology and mobile apps will soon put even more property information at our fingertips.
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Advances in digital technology and mobile apps will soon put even more property information at our fingertips.

The way we buy and sell houses has already been transformed by digital technology, but it looks set to ramp up even further.

Domain says a new report released by global trends analysts The Future Laboratory is expected to "disrupt and reshape home buying and selling" in Britain, and New Zealand will no doubt be a fast adopter as always.

Already there are phone apps that help us find properties in preferred locations, or close to where we happen to be. Photos, documents, videos and floorplans are all at our fingertips, as are school zone searches. And drones are now commonplace in the suburbs as they soar above the street to gain video footage and still images of a house for sale.

Is this how we will soon choose a house to buy - putting our cellphone into a pair of cardboard goggles and viewing a ...
123RF.COM

Is this how we will soon choose a house to buy - putting our cellphone into a pair of cardboard goggles and viewing a virtual reality app?

The latest report, commissioned by UK real estate company easyProperty, says virtual reality is gradually making its way into the industry, and it is expected hyper-realistic home viewings will be commonplace within a decade.

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By 2025 we can also expect to see "digital neighbourhood cyber-safaris, big data house hunting, conscientiousness ratings and crowdfunded mortgages". The report says all these will be standard resources for a market fuelled by Generation Z house hunters, who will be demanding convenience and efficiencies in property technology.

The report says the moment a person become interested in buying or renting a home, Big Data would be used to harness their conveyed and intuitive preferences.

"Online searches will become increasingly personalised, with property portals matching potential houses to a person based on a their social media and browser activity.".

Douglas McCabe, chief executive of Enders Analysis, says whereas today an online property system might filter to match your specified budget and required number of bedrooms, "consumers in the 2020s will expect it to plug in their personal data and know that they want a house with a south-facing garden, close to a railway station that serves their office, a school specialising in music for their daughter and a jazz bar that serves great craft beer".

It is expected that within four years, house hunters will be able to go on virtual guided neighbourhood tours using beacon technology.

Digital beacons will, by then, be "embedded in practically every building and business" and your phone will receive an alert as you walk past a particular building that may have your favourite cuisine inside, or is offering free yoga classes.

The same approach will be used to sell a house. The report says vendors will be able to activate a beacon in their homes that will send off a signal when a possible match walks past.

But it won't be just about the visuals. Touch and smell are also expected to be part of the experience. The report says haptic gloves will supposedly "allow you to convincingly 'touch' items and surfaces" during a virtual reality tour, while olfactory technology will allow you to smell something like freshly brewed coffee that isn't actually there.

Already, one Australian company has developed a new platform that combines virtual reality, augmented reality, geo location and traditional media in a single app for a mobile phone or tablet.

Luke Berry, director of THIRDi says an interested buyer can walk to where the yet-to-be-built apartment will be, point their phone at the site and see how the development will look, while traffic continues around it.

He says the feedback had been overwhelming.

"We've seen people download the app, use it, see the view and then pay a holding deposit. So I've seen it actually help convince someone 'yep that's what I want to buy'."

But questions remain – when you buy a house, it's often the way it makes you feel that's important. Will virtual reality ever be able to convey this? And will we see an increase in people buying a house sight unseen?

 - Stuff