Realtors International have conducted a first for South Africa and possibly internationally ‚ a live, virtual showhouse using Skype and an iPad.
Technology is set to cause a dramatic shift in the traditional property business, say Realtors International chief brand manager Toni Enderli and real estate agent Sean Britt.
The past few years have seen a sharp decline in traditional showhouses, placing as it does everything at risk from the safety of the agent on show, to the security of the home being shown.
‚However,‚ says Britt, ‚with a virtual showing in real time you not only deal with these challenges but you also open an avenue for people from all over the country and even globally to see a home over the web ‚ and to see exactly what they want as they can literally call the shots – before they spend time and money to travel to Cape Town for viewings.‚
The proof of the system is that the particular property that was on show via Skype has been sold to a buyer from Johannesburg based on what they saw live online. Explains Enderli: ‚We had a buyer from Johannesburg who was looking for something for his daughter. Instead of flying all the way down, he viewed the property online during the designated time that we were on show and put in an offer.‚
The idea of the virtual, live showhouse had been brewing in Britt’s mind for a while, but came to fruition recently with a prospective buyer from Durban:
‚I have a client that wants to fly down in a few weeks. By showing her a number of properties first via Skype, I have not only been able to work out what type of properties she would be interested in seeing, but I can concentrate on showing her, in real time and while we are having a live conversation about it, exactly what she wants to see more of.‚
For the meantime, all properties advertised as being on show via the live, virtual viewing system, will also continue to be advertised as open houses with on-site physical showings.
Explains Enderli: ‚We acknowledge that it may take some time for a mindshift to happen with both clients and buyers. As with any innovation, particularly one that involves technology, it takes a while for people to get use to the idea of doing things differently. But all the clients that we’ve taken the idea to thus far are very excited by the live, online showhouse concept.
‚In a world where technology is designed to reduce face time, we’re using it to increase it and actually deliver a better service because in this instance the consumer actually has more time with our staff, building trust and long term relationships. It also increases our levels of efficiency, as we can deal with multiple enquires from different clients during one showhouse session.‚
Says Britt: ‚The most incredible thing for us is that we conducted a large amount of research online before we tested our first virtual showhouse and were very surprised that no one has yet seem to have thought of using something like an iPad for live viewings. Not even in the USA ‚ the heart of fast internet connections and real estate innovation!‚