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It seems it takes a crisis for us to question the way things have always been done, and that's exactly what's happening for many industries now.
Social distancing and quarantine measures have had a drastic effect on business, forcing them to make major changes if they want to survive.
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Property is a prime example. Last year alone, over $55 billion of residential property was bought and sold in New Zealand. It's a major industry, with many jobs attached.
So it's a big problem that, whether you're buying or renting, there's a key part of the process that doesn't work in Covid-19 times.
Usually, you walk into the enclosed space of the house alongside other people, to decide if it's the one for you.
It's important to assess it properly, because whether it's a home or investment, it's a big decision. Pretty pictures can tell pretty lies.
But just the thought of being around so many people gives me shivers now. Not to mention, under alert level 3, agents are only allowed to book two private viewings per day. That's a big reduction in numbers.
Their solution? Virtual viewings.
Kylie Davis founded Proptech Association Australia in response to the new surge in demand, to help people figure out which was the best option for them.
She said digital solutions could be as simple as an agent walking through the home and displaying it on a group video call, or as complicated as a full virtual reality rendering.
"It's been around for a long time, and really struggled to take off until recently. But when you're locked down, you need to find alternative ways to look at the property."
Davis said the changes meant buyers could get a much better idea of what the place was like than they would from a traditional listing.
She said the time savings and improved information were great for buyers, so she suspected the trend would stick around even once social distancing measures ended.
"If you think about a typical buyer these days, they're usually a couple or a family. Usually they're working, trying to juggle family commitments, weekend shopping, taking the kids to rugby or ballet, just doing a million things.
"Buying a property is another big burden of something else to co-ordinate in your weekend," Davis said.
"The process until now has been set up to benefit the sellers, which is ironic because it's the buyers turning up with the cheque.
"This is one way sellers and real estate agents can give a little more support and help to buyers."
Davis said most buyers would still probably want to eventually see the property in person, but the virtual viewings would let them know if the property was truly on their shortlist or not.
NZME-owned OneRoof has already jumped aboard the trend. It's launched a new tool that allows buyers to search the area they want to live in and click on a virtual viewing button to find properties where a 3D or virtual walkthrough or video tour is available.
OneRoof general manager Vikas Verma said the continued need for social distancing increased demand for digital solutions.
He said from April 28 they would also be offering the ability to livestream a video of the listing.
"While this is designed to help the market through these challenging times, it will have application beyond efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus and appeal to buyers who are unable to attend open homes."
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