The time to accept and embrace a virtual landscape for physical real estate is now more appropriate than ever
Traversing the virtual landscape has become like second nature to us today. We spend a huge chunk of our days and nights on some virtual platform or another. Some of us are playing video games on our smartphones or computers, some “liking” and “reacting” to posts on social media or just watching videos for entertainment or knowledge. We also “hangout” at online or virtual marketplaces and shops to find items that we need or just to browse. Yes!Navigating the virtual world is very familiar to us. So, why should we not embrace the concept of navigating the real estate landscape in Bangladesh more virtually?
In fact, the time to accept and embrace a virtual landscape for physical real estate is now more appropriate than ever. Take a moment to understand how we have started to adapt to this “New normal.”For most of the year, a large portion of us, especially those living in cities, have remained indoors. Many of us still limit outside movement in hopes of limiting our exposure to the dangerous virus that may be lurking behind any corner and waiting to spread and grow. The time is not here yet for us to truly relax and be merry. We, as people, need to continue doing what we have always done to survive — what we have been doing as mentioned above — adapting to the new normal and finding new and more accessible ways to fulfill our needs to continue with our lives.
One of those needs, which happens to be a fundamental need, is shelter or housing — the pursuit of which has been flaming eternally for us humans. Yet, the need for a “home” transcends the status of a core human need. It is a desire —a dream — that many cherish and hold close to their hearts. So, while renting can be, and tends to be, a very viable real estate and housing option, the heart yearns to own. It wants to have a place that can be called its own — be it a single small hovel or a spectacular mansion. The dream is to have something of their own — a dream that gets passed from generation to generation. For those very reasons, and countless more, the thought of “stopping” real estate activity is akin to crushing the dream of millions and billions of people.
But for a while, something like this felt possible and may very well happen. Health hazards and safety risks put all sides — both consumers and developers — of the real estate industry on alert. Those responsible for constructing and developing property had to stop all their activity abruptly and those hoping to purchase were tossed into an unforeseen situation with an immense dilemma hanging over their heads;refrain from spending and fulfilling immediate needs or move forward without what your heart wants. Fortunately, despite all the uncertainty and peril in the air, parts of the world as well as our nation, reopened and the new normal so far has allowed people to continue with their lives — and a chance for the economy to recover.
But even though construction and developing of real estate has been resumed — to a certain extent — with safety checks and all, it is the concern of the consumers that are slowing down the recovery of the sector as the physical aspect of evaluating a property is perceived as crucial to making any decision. In all fairness, such a huge sum of investment should not be made without such evaluations either. But taking the traditional route of buying real estate can be quite time consuming where an average buyer first physically views a property themselves and then shows it to their friends or loved one. And if the property in question is rejected in any of the stages of selection, the process starts again with another property.
This approach requires a lot of physical presence that could be unwanted in the current scenario and, often enough, is advised against. The better alternative for the present condition, the safer alternative, is utilizing peoples’ familiarity with virtual landscape and navigation to help fulfill their fundamental dream of owning a home— a feat that is possible and is happening all over the world, including Bangladesh, thanks to innovations of Property Technology or PropTech.
Two of the core innovations of PropTech, virtual tours and video tours of properties, have been revolutionizing features of real estate all over the world and Bangladesh is no different. Just as people today look at photos and YouTube videos to learn more about a product before buying, virtual and video property tours are enabling people to get a closer look at their desired properties, and sometimes from a different angle. A combination of these two features allows a hopeful to view a property from almost every angle that even might have not been possible when evaluating it physically. And the cherry on top is the fact that they can view property whenever and however long they want since the features can be accessed right from their phone or computer.
The proof that people in Bangladesh have been increasingly embracing these Propech features can be found by looking at Bproperty’s user behaviour over the last one month. Since the tail end of last year, a growing number of Bproperty website users have been viewing video tours of properties and exploring them using the virtual tour feature available on the website. However, the onset of the lockdown period was a major influencer of how the users interacted and searched for properties on the Bproperty website. It was the point when peoples’ familiarity with the virtual landscape was sort of “carried over” to property finding in a specific manner as Bproperty saw the number of users who played property tour videos more than doubled between March of this year and April. And when comparing March to August, six months of the current crisis and more reliance on virtual media mean that users who played videos grew by a staggering 641%.
There are writings on the wall, as well as the current trends show, that there is a good chance that this behavioural change is not a “one-off” or for a limited period of time. This is here to stay just as we have embraced and accepted other virtual landscapes into our lives. So, with features such as video tours and virtual tours available for people to help find homes even amidst a crisis that discourages outside mobility, why should real estate dreamers not continue ahead with their desires and needs?
Even if a final decision is not made through the help of a virtual medium, much of the primary selection process can be done and eliminated so that you and I need to travel less outside and it takes less time (and hassle) to make that oh-so valuable final decision. So, again it can be asked, with a strong desire in our heart and PropTech at our hands, why should we not embrace the concept of navigating the real estate landscape in Bangladesh more virtually?
This article is being published under special arrangement as part of a partnership with Bproperty