China's online platforms are innovating to survive the epidemic and keep their customer base by proactively taking advantages of virtual reality (VR) and live stream.
China's housing market has been hit by the coronavirus outbreak as many brokerages keep their shops closed. But demand from home buyers remains and developers need to clear their stockpiles.
Technologies are transforming China's housing market. With partial lockdown and strict quarantine measures, VR house viewing and online live stream seemingly become the only way to sell houses at the moment.
Live stream is one of the hottest ways of selling homes right now. During a recent Poly Real Estate live streaming, 102 apartments were sold in half an hour, and over 1,000 in a day. In Hainan, a drone flew high during a live streaming to show off a beautiful hotel residence on an island to woo hundreds of thousands of potential buyers from all over the country. On a Fang.com online housing expo, more than 5,000 living complexes are taking part, offering discounts of over 1 billion yuan.
"We handled over 120,000 live streams in the past month. Every day, over 5 million viewers are watching our shows. 300,000 real estate agents and sales persons are live streaming. We have 12,000 online home sales centers, 25,000 online brokerages offering free services to home buyers," said Liu Jian, CEO of Fang.com.
Home buyers go online to view and buy homes, not just because it's difficult for them to visit the real homes, but because virtual reality sometimes provides more information than reality and promotes transparency and efficiency.
"Fang.com is helping real estate companies with their digitalization and online transformation. We recognize that this transformation is non-reversible. The online activities will for sure continue after the epidemic especially with the 5G era is just around the corner," Liu added.
So going online is the future, and another platform, Beike, certainly agrees with that. As one of the first online housing platforms to offer VR house viewing in China, its VR service volume surged 215 times in the first half of February compared to a year ago, while customer calling time skyrocketed to 323 times. A Beike executive said home buyers are seriously accepting the idea of buying homes online. And sales efficiency has been greatly improved.
"Let's take a recent new complex developed by Sunac as an example. A sales person can serve 70 customers a day on our VR viewing platform, far more than the 30 customers a salesperson can serve offline before. In 8 minutes and 16 seconds, 1,068 homes out of the total of 1,472 were sold," said Chen Jiong, operations director of Beike.
Buying a house is always a big decision for every family, in terms of finance, living environment and plans for the future. New technologies are helpful in making that decision, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of Chinese families are buying homes even during this very difficult moment shows their strong desire for a better life and their strong confidence that this dreadful virus outbreak will be ending soon, and people will be able to get back to their normal and beautiful life.