To say that 2020 was a tough year for the global economy could be the understatement of the century. The worldwide pandemic has brought nearly every industry to its knees and slowed progress down to almost a complete stop. Which is why hearing success stories that have come about not just during the pandemic, but because of it, is inspiring for all suffering businesses in need of some hope.
With markets crashing, investors saving rather than speculating and economic cash flow at rock bottom despite high fiscal investment; small business success stories in any industry are the exception to the rule rather than the norm. This is also true of the real estate market where government lockdowns and restrictions coupled with low investor activity have caused huge problems for realtors looking to showcase the limited stock that is on the market to potential customers that are unable to view these properties.
Enter Unwrapped Media LLC. A Dubai based media company that specialises in 3D Matterport Virtual Tours. The pandemic has allowed virtual tours of properties to explode on to the market, spearheaded by the low cost/high volume model that have allowed Unwrapped Media to rapidly become the largest provider of virtual tours in the real estate industry in the Middle East.
Managing Director, Craig Jones, was inspired to enter this sector after seeing the poor quality imagery that is online for housing. “The real estate industry’s greatest innovation in the last 20 years has been to move from physical shops to online comparison sites. Although this allows customers more options at the click of a button, there are red flags and frustrations for the consumer. Fake listings designed to draw people to a particular agent coupled with terrible imagery that does a total disservice to a high value asset.”
“I remember searching through listings when I was personally looking to move and realising that although it is easier to find more properties, you still need to physically view all of them as the images were too difficult to gauge what the property was like. In some cases I would walk into a house and straight back out just because the layout was wrong, or the finishing wasn’t to my taste. I thought to myself there has to be a better way to save time visiting 10-30 properties in this way”.
So Craig, alongside 3 other founders, started Unwrapped Media and immediately set about finding solutions for this issue. Within months, the company was affiliated with Matterport as an official partner, the global giant and creme de la creme of 3D tours.
Initially the concept of adding virtual tours to their online listings, was seen as a luxury spend due to the high costs involved for each listing, whilst some were against the idea in favour of more traditional ways of marketing. If it isn’t broke then don’t fix it right?
Well it broke! In fact, to be more precise, it was broken by the global pandemic that nobody foresaw. With consumers unable to view properties because of restrictions and lockdowns, realtors realised that they needed to change something quickly or be sucked up into the black hole of victims that the pandemic was so hungry for. As Craig explains, it was the perfect storm that may have changed the industry forever.
“Where we were initially considered a disruptor to traditional methods, we quickly became an essential tool for the industry to be able to connect with buyers and sellers during the pandemic. The sudden demand for this product allowed us to reduce our prices significantly to allow it to become a no brainer for businesses to add to their listings”.
The result? Well in the UAE the property market is posting results better than the year prior to the pandemic, it has not just survived but it is positively thriving. Consumer confidence is at a record high as they are able to view properties at their leisure from their home, meaning that they can easily filter out unsuitable properties and narrow visits to homes they have already virtually viewed.
Agengts even have the option of offering viewings online through a ‘zoom-style’ facility. This allows a personal touch and the ability to add context to the virtual tour as buyers are walked through different properties.
As Craig sums up nicely; “Virtual Tours were a short term fix but have become a long term solution for an industry desperate for innovation. The future is very bright for sellers, buyers and agents due to this technology streamlining the process for all’.
Visit www.unwrappedmedia.com for examples of these Matterport 3D Virtual Tours.
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