Dashing across town to visit a property for sale after work? According to trend analysts, The Future Laboratory, the days of paying a physical visit will be long gone by 2025 and replaced by virtual reality devices such a holograms instead.
The report, commissioned by online estate agent easyProperty, has predicted several ways that buying, selling and redecorating a home will change over the next decade. Here are the top five.
1. 3D virtual reality cafes
Instead of physically visiting properties while house-hunting, estate agencies will have developed in multi-brand 3D virtual reality cafes where buyers can explore new off-plan homes for sale as if they were really inside them.
“A small number of buyers are taking virtual tours of luxury homes but it will not be long until these tours will move into the mainstream property market," easyProperty chief executive, Rob Ellice, said.
“Seamlessly integrating our digital and physical worlds, virtual reality tours will count as a first viewing, as people are usually going to physically do the second viewing.," he added.
2. Haptic technology (ie. recreating sense of touch)
Haptic technology (from the word meaning "to touch" in ancient Greek) is already used in devices such as game controllers and, more recently the Apple Watch, to recreate physical sensations.
According to the Future Laboratory, it won't be long until the technology is used in the property world to allow a home buyer to feel and even smell the inside of a property without leaving the showroom or the comfort of their own home. (We'll take your word for it).
3. Checking out the neighbourhood with drones
With drones already being trialled by the likes of Amazon for delivering parcels, Generation Z – people born in the 1990s – may also soon be using their own personal flying robots to scan the neighbourhood and see how busy nearby roads are.
"As drone technology becomes more affordable, we imagine potential house-hunters will cotton on to its use for conducting those vital pre-purchase searches – to find out whether the neighbours throw loud parties every weekend, how noisy the traffic is at key points throughout the day, and other information not easily available from an inspection of the house but vital to long-term happiness," Ellice said.
4. Virtual DIY and chats with builders via hologram
Buyers will use a new generation of Heads-up Display (HUD) glasses – a more advanced and user-friendly version of Google Glass – to virtually redesign their property and even carry out interactive chats with the builder via hologram.
"Estate agents will supply their own branded HUD glasses, loaded with many different apps connected to dozens of databases, to enable home- buyers to virtually redesign or practise DIY on any property they are viewing," technology futurist William Higham, one of the contributors to the report, said.
5. The ultra-connected property portal
Whereas today online property portals generally filter by budget and number of bedrooms, homebuyers in the 2020s will want access to even more information based on their personal data, such as whether a house has a south-facing garden, or is located near to a school specialising in music for their daughter, and a jazz bar that serves great craft beer.
"Estate agencies will be expected to have sophisticated software systems that can deliver hyper-personalised property options," said Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.
"They will want the ability to conduct realistic virtual reality tours and video conferences with current owners on their mobile devices."