The game changer

The game changer

Total Property - Issue 6 2016

The technology driving the gaming phenomenon Pokémon GO has the power to revolutionise the commercial property industry, allowing potential buyers to walk through planned buildings or undertake due diligence on their smartphone.

Pokémon GO is the most addictive video game right now. Making use of the GPS and camera on their phones, players follow an interactive street map trying to catch as many Pokémon as they can.

The augmented reality game was downloaded by more than 40 million people within weeks of its release. It has also helped boost the economy as retailers capitalise on a sudden influx of players passing their premises looking for all 151 of the game's digital creatures.

The locations of Pokéstops – where players replenish their supplies – and Pokémon gyms – where players battle it out with others – were pre-determined by Niantic, the game's developer.

The game allows users to buy “lure” and “incense” incentives that attract Pokémon to particular locations for 30-minute periods. Within weeks of the game’s launch Niantic received over 15 million requests from businesses to become a Pokéstop or gym, and has since closed on applications.

Niantic, like Facebook and Google, tracks users’ movements and habits. They know where they’re going, what time they’re going and how long they’ll stay - storing all that information, which is incredibly valuable to advertisers.

“Using Pokémon GO to drive higher foot traffic to any form of real estate seems like a no-brainer,” wrote one analyst.

For the property and building industry, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are seen as the next big steps. In Australia, real estate business REA has invested in AR company Plattar to create, manage and distribute AR content.

In New Zealand, companies like 360 video and Property 3D are already taking advantage of an interest in the technology in the property development sector; and ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development) has set up an AR/VR space to help clients create additional value through new products, services and business models.

A new report by global commercial and industrial marketing network, Cushman and Wakefield, predicts AR and VR will, “bridge the information asymmetries currently inherent in commercial property markets, whether due to distance, time or the agency dilemma, and improve access for consumers”.

This can be appreciated in geospatial analytics, indoor mapping, and virtual viewing which allow consumers to visualise spaces and buildings yet to be completed or in another location - enabling commercial real estate operators to create specific strategies to market the spaces.

This in turn makes it easier for buyers to compare properties and undertake due diligence even on smartphones or desktops.

However, Cushman and Wakefield – of which Bayleys is the sole New Zealand affiliate – believes the new technologies won’t displace the role of salespersons.

“Rather, it will engender an evolution that will help facilitate the real estate decision-making process. The skill sets of the New Age agent will have to expand in order to differentiate themselves to clients - so we see the rise of a more consultative and tech-savvy agent.”

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