Visitors to the recent Cityscape Global 2017 conference in Dubai witnessed the ushering in of a new era in real estate, with more firms unveiling digital technology to assist buyers, sellers, renters, and investors.

The move towards integrating such innovations – known as PropTech – into the market has gathered pace in recent years, and at last year’s Cityscape, property classifieds service Dubizzle showcased pioneering virtual reality (VR) tours.

This allowed those interested in buying or renting a property hosted by Dubizzle to take a 360 tour of the location without having to set foot in it.

With a VR headset, users can explore a property from the comfort of their own homes, receiving an impression which cannot be replicated through 2D photos on a website.

The service – offered in partnership with tech firm 360VUZ – has been a notable success, with Dubizzle ads featuring the VR service receiving an impressive 155 percent more clicks on the site than those without it.

The technology dazzled Cityscape 2016 visitors, and at this year’s conference yet more firms offered similar PropTech to advance the process of buying, selling, or renting property.

Among them was Dubai-based real estate e-marketplace Realopedia, which displayed new PropTech in the form of an online booking platform which, among other innovations, includes VR viewings.

Realopedia CEO Laura Choueri outlined how the marketplace was changing fast as firms raced to offer the latest advancements for customers and clients.

“The launch comes at an opportune time when property buyers are using next-generation tools to access useful data,” she said.

“More and more tech-savvy investors are harnessing the full potential of contemporary and advanced tools to search for and purchase property according to their liking and taste instead of just relying heavily on traditional methods for information.”

In its current ascendency, PropTech is radicalising a marketplace described as “conservative and closed-off to innovation”.

This unflattering portrayal of the world of real estate was made by Oxford University Professor Andrew Baum -an industry figurehead and visionary – while speaking of a report he published earlier this year.

However, the industry is much more open to innovation now new PropTech is being adopted by firms such as Realopedia and Dubizzle, he explained.

In his document, titled PropTech 3.0, Professor Baum outlines where he believes the continued advancement of the technology will take the industry.

“It might be that in five to ten years’ time we will be using crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin or Blockchain to buy and sell our houses,” he said, adding:

“2017 seems to mark a turning point. PropTech has been building such mass and momentum that it will change the world.”



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