Antony Waldorf from Virtual Walkthrough has kindly spared us a few minutes of his busy day to talk about Virtual Walkthrough and the property industry as a whole.
Thanks for joining us Antony. How did the idea for VW come about?
"I was investing in a number of properties and was frustrated by how much time was unnecessarily spent during the selling process. It became clear that prospective buyers didn’t have enough information online in order to judge which properties they wanted to invest their time in, to physically visit.
I believed then and still do that technology could be harnessed in a new way to display key features, provide richer and more interactive content and increase transparency during the property buying process. So I turned to my former-business partner, Leo Sutic, to prototype the idea.
Virtual Walkthrough was founded in 2009 with the ambition to better match buyers and properties, and create a solution to a need presented by the property market.
After undertaking a four year stealth phase, Virtual Walkthrough is now working with over 100 clients within the property industry."
For you, what is the most rewarding thing about Virtual Walkthrough?
"For us, it is when customers are able to use our advanced technology and platform to realise the full value of their property, ensure prospective buyers are better informed to make real business decisions and deliver a faster deal cycle.
The feedback we have had has been extremely positive; it is an industry game changer. We have taken the time to create the 4K technology (level above HD), the best available in the industry with the potential to continue improving in the future, and the results are beginning to come to light. Helping to change an industry – for the better – is something we are excited to be involved in."
What’s the most interesting building or otherwise that you have produced a Virtual Walkthrough for?
"We have captured a wide variety of buildings across the residential and commercial property industries, as well as shopping centres, yachts, exhibitions and outside spaces, and each one is unique.
One of the larger buildings we have captured, which shows the scope of what can be achieved by the technology, is a $100 million property in Dubai. It’s on a much larger scale than the properties we usually capture but we utilise the same technology throughout – making sure all of our clients receive the full Virtual Walkthrough experience.
What do you think are the biggest benefits of a Virtual Walkthrough for buyers and vendors?
"Virtual Walkthrough provides the first viewing before the first physical viewing. It significantly decreases the time that people take looking at the wrong properties which in turn ensures travel time efficiency for prospective buyers and agents alike as the first physical viewing is taken after an informed virtual tour. By first viewing properties via a virtual walkthrough, buyers can then focus their physical efforts on the ones that fit their needs. This is because the technology is “true-to-life”; the seamless and immersive way that the technology presents the properties shows them in their true and complete form. We have also found that buyers are more likely to invest their time to physically view a property after fully viewing it online.
The technology is also far more advanced than photographs, video or traditional virtual tours, and can be produced within 72 hours. In the fast moving and competitive real-estate industry the fast turnaround is essential."
What industries have been the most keen to utilise the service?
"The service is being used across residential, commercial, retail industries, as well as yachts, exhibitions and outside spaces. Further to this, the technology is providing benefits to the asset management and operational teams by being employed as a tool to review floor space, demonstrate the quality of assets and obtain intricate interior details of buildings."
How do you think the high street estate agents are coping with the digitalisation of the industry?
"High street estate agents are under increasing pressure with the digitisation of the property industry to provide a greater “experience” for buyers. This is coupled with a growing demand from the tech savvy buyer who wants to have greater access to information before making any purchasing decision be it residential or commercial.
Those agencies that have seen value in utilising technology like ours and who have taken notice of the shift in attitudes are reaping the benefits over their competitors.
Technology such as Virtual Walkthrough is not disruptive; it is innovative, addressing a fundamental problem within the property industry – the lack of tools to connect buyers with buildings. Like other technologies it is creating solutions, not problems – working with high street agencies to their overall benefit."
Why do you think the estate agent industry has been so slow to move online?
"Changing an established industry always takes time, and the property industry is no different. Until recently there weren’t a high number of technology companies focused on the property market offering viable solutions that aided the evolution of traditional models. However, with the growth of incubators such as PiLabs, forward thinking companies are looking to secure their competitive advantage by using technology as the point of differentiation.
There is always fear of “disruption” when technology is brought into an industry, however, the property industry is learning that if it works alongside technology the benefits can mitigate the perceived risks."