Downsizer-friendly homes worth more than $1 million are being sold following personal online video tours, as the coronavirus pandemic ushers in a new technology-based era in real estate marketing and sales.
Retirement and residential developers are scrambling to introduce new digital solutions, following the Australian Government’s decision to shut down open home inspections and physical auction gatherings.
This includes longer and richer video content - including drone footage and three dimensional floor plans - and personalised live-streamed video property tours (along with private appointments) of the project’s display apartment.
Mr Algie said his team had conducted six of these online property tours in the past two months, of which two had led to the placement of holding deposits. The homes were worth around $1-1.5 million, with settlements due around November when construction will be complete.
“If the buyer wants to meet us at the display suite, we will still do it, and do all the right things such as social distancing,” Mr Algie said.
“However, some people have either left Sydney or would prefer not to do the physical inspection. For these clients, we use a video streaming service and do a complete walk-through, where you can get a feel for all the finishes and details and ask questions in real time.”
Mr Algie said his project’s website traffic was up 28 per cent in the last two weeks.
“As restrictions are being tightened, people have a lot more time and this translates to more time online, and therefore they are consuming more content,” he said. “In addition, people don’t want to put their lives on hold for six months to make a decision.”
Retirement operators move to online inspections
Meanwhile, the NSW and Queensland-based Palm Lake Resort Group says it is “business as (un)usual”, with the company undertaking video phone inspections of its homes alongside private appointments.
“We are further developing our ability to take you on virtual tours of our Country Clubs and various display homes, all from the comfort of your home,” the company said on its website. “In fact, coronavirus has also fast-tracked other technological advancements our company was already making. Stay tuned for announcements shortly.”
Tim Russell, Director of Queensland-based retirement village operator and provider Aura Holdings, said: "We have increased our focus across digital platforms and village websites as we are no longer able to hold open houses or village functions."
“We are however still able to offer prospective residents one-on-one inspections if they wish, and Aura will adopt all recommended hygiene and social distancing protocols in these circumstance. We are continuing to maintain a good level of inquiry and as yet haven’t seen an impact on our sales."
Technology the “new normal”
Raine and Horne South Australian general manager James Trimble said the pandemic had accelerated the disruptive effects of new technology in the real estate industry.
“If you are an empty nester selling your home, you’ve got to recognise that your target audience are 35-40 year-olds starting the family journey, and these people are likely to be very technologically advanced,” Mr Trimble said.
“Although there are no open inspections, and you can’t stand on the front lawn and auction any more, the government hasn’t said stop - you still have the opportunity to sell your house.
“These technology solutions, such as the social media marketing amplification we offer, or the online auctions or tours, are already available - now their use is being accelerated.
“We’ve got to get used to change...technology is not the scary monster.”