Future gazing: three ways that technology could change the property sector

Future gazing: three ways that technology could change the property sector

Technology never ceases to amaze. Who’d have thought, thirty-five years ago, that homes would largely be advertised via a giant virtual network called ‘the Internet’? You can’t stop progress. Nor would you want to. Imagine trying to weather the pandemic without virtual viewings? Technology literally saved our skins.

Consequently, it’s fun to predict how technology might shape the property sector in the coming years. What new innovations are on the horizon? Well, we’ve done some future gazing and believe that the following innovations could be both just around the corner and right up your street.

1. Digital ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ boards

Good old-fashioned ‘For Sale’ boards have been around since the dinosaurs. And they still work really, really well as discussed here. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be improved and made more effective. Therefore, one wonders whether digital displays might replace them in the coming years?

Agents already boast digital displays in their office windows because they show so much more than old-fashioned particulars. So imagine if they replaced ‘For Sale’ boards, too. Rather than simply telling passers by that a property is for sale, digital displays could provide a wealth of information like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the asking price, a brief description, and provide some internal images. 

Digital displays are fantastic because they also allow for video and animation. They’re used extensively in the advertising world, whether it’s at bus stations or escalators on the tube, because they attract attention. So why not use them to advertise properties as well? They can be updated in real time and even sport QR codes to redirect smartphones to your agency’s website. 

There are some downsides though. Digital displays aren’t exactly cheap and there’s always a risk of theft or damage. Thankfully, however, their energy consumption is low, so batteries, or even solar power, could keep them running 24/7. They can also be reused again and again, so the investment might become a no-brainer as their price falls in the future.

2. Virtual reality viewings

Virtual viewings were a lifeline during lockdown and they’re clearly here to stay. But as agents are already using 3D interactive virtual tours, why not go the whole hog and implement fully-fledged, fabulous, and increasingly fashionable virtual reality tours? They have the same benefits as virtual viewings – fewer wasted physical viewings and the ability to ‘show’ homes in remote locations – but on steroids. 

Although VR sounds sophisticated, it’s actually quite simple: 360-degree photos of a property are stitched together and uploaded onto a device that’s connected to a VR headset. Then potential buyers or tenants put their goggles on and away they go. The headset tracks the viewer’s head and eye movement to recreate what’s normally left to the imagination. 

Whilst virtual viewings aren’t perfect, and some customers will still be reluctant to make a firm offer before seeing a home in the flesh, VR viewings will provide an unprecedented and even more immersive experience. That’s why attitudes to VR are extremely positive. Indeed, 71% of millennials – the generation most likely to embrace new technologies - are in favour.

We believe it’s only a matter of time before VR becomes a staple part of an agent’s daily diet. In fact, some agents are already sending headsets to potential buyers so it’s virtually here already.

3. Security sells

A man’s home is his castle. And homes are always more desirable when it takes multiple catapults and a battering ram to break into them. No wonder agents advise their vendors and landlords to make their properties as impenetrable as possible. 

But what, exactly, will the security systems of the future look like? Although doors to restricted areas always seem to have iris recognition or fingerprint authentication pads in fictional films, we think that facial recognition will be the technology that eventually replaces traditional keys in the real world. We’ve started to unlock our smartphones this way, so why not our homes, too?

The key word here is ‘smart’. The Internet of Things (IoT), with its legion of cloud-based smart devices, is going to play an increasing role in our lives in the coming years. People already use smart apps to do all kinds of things like set their thermostats and turn the lights on. Therefore, it won’t be long before everyone uses apps for their home security as well. 

Smart apps connected to cutting edge cameras will play a central role in this security revolution. And we’re not just talking about outside CCTV here. Internal cameras can already tell the difference between a pet moving around and an intruder. Therefore, they could potentially incorporate face-recognition technology, too. Images of intruders could then be sent to the criminal database in real time. 

Imagine a security system interrupting a burglar, addressing them by their real name, and telling them the game’s up and the police are on their way. Who needs Robocop when you’ve got smart tech?

Brave new world

Although some of these ideas might seem far-fetched, they’re very possible and probably closer to reality than you might think. Digital displays, virtual reality, and smart apps are becoming ubiquitous, and it won’t be long before every aspect of our homes is linked to our Amazon Echo or Google Nest.

Agents that utilise the latest technologies, and recommend it to their customers, will obviously have an edge over their rivals. And the advantage in property marketing will become obvious, too. You probably already send your customers email alerts when new instructions come to market. But what if there was a way to reach them faster and more directly? 

Just picture the scene. A house-hunter wakes up, hears the weather forecast via their Echo, receives reminders about upcoming meetings, and then gets told that there’s a new flat up for grabs in their dream location. They’ll be onto their agent in no time. In fact, they just have to say “Alexa, book me a viewing during my lunch break”. How’s that for smart? 

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