How important is an online presence for real estate?

Archilogic helps office providers promote and sell office space through 3D floor plans, office design simulations and property data insights. Here we explore the importance of online presence and what commercial real estate providers can do to capture the attention of the ever-demanding millennials.

If you’ve been in the property game for a long time, you may raise an eyebrow at the idea of selling real estate online. After all, it’s a people business. It’s about emotion. And it’s just too big an investment to be treated carelessly. Buyers absolutely need to walk through a space to fall in love with it, as much as to check out all the details and reassure themselves it’s the right decision. Trading online doesn’t make sense.

Then again, maybe you’re old enough to remember the very convincing arguments that people wouldn’t buy clothes online. Or groceries. And maybe you’re young enough to wonder why there’s even a question mark over this. Of course the future of real estate is online.

Customers look online first

The fact is, a lot of the property business is already conducted online. Listings websites have dramatically changed the way people search for a new home: instead of poring over newspaper ads and traipsing around viewings, we subscribe to targeted searches, request floor plans and photos by email, even explore the property through a virtual 3D tour. A large part of the decision making has been done long before we ever set foot in the house for sale. Research from the US National Association of Realtors showed that in 2018, 93% of all buyers searched websites for homes to buy; nearly half didn’t even visit an open house viewing, and 46% found virtual tours “very useful”.
Online auctions are also shaking up the commercial property world with sophisticated tools slashing the time taken to move from offers to closing from days, to mere hours. In this sector, although digitalization has so far made waves in efficiency more than marketing, web-based platforms and tools are growing rapidly in importance. But does that mean the human agent is less important? Hardly.
Property will always be a people business. Agents will always need to understand the needs of their customers; to connect the right buyers with sellers, to negotiate the best deal, and to help them navigate the sensitive, often stressful process of trading property. Centric Digital argues that digital transformation, far from replacing human agents, has enhanced personal connections – through social media and video – and customization of their services. But to stay ahead of the competition, agents will need to stay ahead of digital trends.

Getting the edge on the competition

The property market is increasingly global. In markets around the world, foreign buyers are increasing their share of property purchases – in Canada, for instance, inquiries from Chinese buyers shot up 247% in 2018! At the prime end, for instance, London has long been a hot target for Asian and Russian investors.
Meanwhile, skilled workers moving abroad for work need to find rental properties from a distance, often signing a lease sight unseen. It used to be that only the biggest real estate firms, with branches across the world, could serve these clients. Now, this lucrative market is open to anyone with a website.
But online listings are just the start. The NAR report showed that even among retirees, 70% of home buyers searched websites for suitable properties; among millennials, unsurprisingly, the figure is 99%. Buyers take for granted that their home can be found online, and expect to conduct a large part of the searching and buying process digitally. For a generation accustomed to buying everything online, a simple listing that replicates a paper brochure will not be enough.

Online 3D floor plans are giving agents more time to make more money

Photos and clear floor plans are a must, but a virtual tour or 3D floor plan is so much more compelling (see some Archilogic examples here ). Exploring a space in this way helps buyers or renters to rule out properties that won’t suit them, and creates a stronger desire to see more of those that might. Then it’s over to the agent to win them over in person – having saved so much time on unsuccessful viewings.

Using tech to efficiently match the right property to the right buyer (or renter), and to smooth the complex admin involved in property trading, means freeing the agent’s time to earn more money. It also reduces stress on the client, creating a relationship with higher trust (and so, more potential for future business). Powerful reasons to stay on top of tech, even when it feels like that’s changing fast enough to become a job in itself.

Has digital real estate marketing changed the way you do business? Let us know what has had the biggest impact, or share your questions about online 3D floor plans with our team.

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