What Are They. How in the Hell did we get here? Customers have gotten very used to seeing property in person, and fumbling through the ramshackle experience of buying property here without thinking much about it. THAT TIME IS OVER. Touring properties in person will, in my view, take a backseat, or at least will ride shotgun, with virtual touring in the driver’s seat.
Of course, with any adoption of a new system, there will be plenty of doubters. And the pushback is mostly from people who jump to this conclusion: “I will not buy an apartment without seeing it first.”
You are correct, mostly. In most cases, you will most definitely NOT buy an apartment without seeing it. I am calling this the 85% Theory. What I mean is that high-quality virtual tours, combined with high-quality 3D, 360-degree immersive tours will get you as much as 85% of the way towards making an offer or buying an apartment. What does this actually mean? It means that you can be anywhere on earth with wifi access, and dive quite deeply into your buying process. Rounds 1, 2 and perhaps further, will be done on the computer. The quality of your experience will only improve, the systems and protocols of providing real-time access to apartments will not change, and you’ll be able to ask lots of questions. There will be opportunities to get lots of information, and the “last mile” of your buying will certainly, in most cases include property visits in person. Just far, far, far fewer of them.
85% of the Way There
The 85% Theory also assumes that for 85% of properties, also, this is the process. These are the resale and nearly new properties that are the vast majority of apartments sold. Units that may not need a gut renovation, that are not new development either.
BUT- for the 15% of properties that are either (1) Units that need a top-to-bottom renovation like this, what we call a “gut,” or (2) New Development properties like this being sold from a floorplan and a virtual experience already, these units, in many cases, COULD be purchased without physical visits.
Think of it as the “Virtual Tour Barbell” That is, along the spectrum of renovation level, the very worst and very best condition units will benefit the most from virtual touring, and nearly everything in the middle will still require in-person visit.
I am making meaningful assumptions. Again, I’m assuming that access to lots and lots of materials online is available. I’m assuming that the emotional connection to property can be bridged. That buildings will allow their lobbies and hallways to be filmed, that we can create a library of building amenity touring that lives past any one listing. And that salesmanship (salespeopleship?) will be tip-top, that is- that a broker can really empower a buyer to see what is essential and special about a property, and answer any and all questions.
Maybe this will end up falling into Pareto’s Law. That is, maybe I’m off on the percentages, that it ends up being that 80% of the process can go online, and that 20% can be bought without physical viewings. But the 85% Theory seems like a fun place to start. And it’s more fun to come up with something new.
One more note on Rentals
I will end by saying that rental brokerage will quickly and forever go online. I suspect that the rental business will become virtual so quickly it will be insane. “It’s a rental!” This was the mantra we would say as we took our super-tiny rental cars offroading and dented the undercarriages. And this is why renters don’t treat their homes with the same care as owners. Simply put, the commitment isn’t there- and renters will expedite their rental process massively with the world of Brokerage 3.0 emerging. You heard it here, maybe not first, but here.