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Real estate is a sector amongst many that has entered a new digital era – a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a world where travel and face-to-face viewings weren’t possible, the real estate sector relied on technology like never before for day-to-day operations.
Although some investors will make their final decision after viewing the property in person, advances in digital technology have made it easier to get a feel for a property virtually like never before – something especially useful for international investors. But it’s not just international investors who are choosing a digital journey with real estate investments. In fact, in our latest Manchester development, The Blade (75% sold out in less than 10 months), less than 1% of these purchasers in the UK had a face-to-face meeting.
But how is technology changing an industry that relies so heavily on personal relationships? Unlike some sectors that are using artificial intelligence to replace human interaction, in the case of real estate, technology enables stronger communication between people globally.
Let’s take a look at some of the examples of how technology has transformed the real estate industry in recent years.
Thanks to 360 virtual tours, buyers can take an online walk-through of a property from anywhere in the world, any time. This is also a great marketing tool for rental management companies, as tenants can get a feel for their potential new home before arranging an in-person viewing – saving money and time for both parties. High-quality renders are also now available, helping to secure a sale or rent for off-plan properties. As JLL wrote in the outbreak of COVID-19, ‘while virtual tours are a necessity as long as travel remains restricted, they could have proved their worth sufficiently in just a few months to secure a longer-term place in the decision-making process’ – and that, they have. Take the virtual tour of one of our furnished apartments at Victoria Residence, Manchester.
Drone footage allows investors to see the progress of the development they have purchased off plan as it’s being built, as well as the actual view from their apartment level – something that historically, real estate specialists have struggled to demonstrate. Access to this footage adds developer credibility and trust, as investors can receive regular construction updates and images. Take a look at the drone footage of our Crown Street, Manchester development.
Social Media and Communication Platforms
Platforms such as WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Zoom allow property consultants and agents to communicate with clients and build a personal relationship, answering any questions they might have as quickly and easily as possible. Although phone and email are the most popular forms of communication in real estate, WhatsApp provides a great function for quick-fire questions and is especially helpful for international investors on different time zones, as both parties can reply quickly and easily when it suits them.
Podcasts and webinars
As with any investment, education on the sector and market is imperative. Education platforms such as podcasts and webinars have been instrumental in educating first-time and seasoned investors on the property market. Both channels of communication are great for international investors as they can listen at a time that suits them. In a world where 72% of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about a product or service than read text, webinars are great tools to educate investors.
Listen to our podcast here and subscribe on your platform of choice to avoid missing future episodes.
Thanks to Google Maps or equivalents, prospective buyers can virtually walk the streets of the development to get a feel for the location from the comfort of their own homes. Some investors like to research nearby railway stations, airports and attractions before investing in a property.
Building management apps
Many purpose-built apartments now have a management app for tenants, integrating concierge services, gym bookings and chat functions with other residents. Providing these services adds to the tenant experience and encourages retention year after year.
Although in some sectors, we are seeing a widescale trend of artificial intelligence replacing the roles of people, this is not the case for real estate. Where people are investing their money, trust and relationships are vital. When it comes to real estate, the role of technology is to enable and better facilitate communication, education, and the building of strong relationships.
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