Realty Bytes: How Technology is Shaping the Property Industry

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[su_spoiler title=”Presented during the Property Congress Report during the Property Asia Awards last April 7, 2016″ style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-2″]


According to Alec Ross, technology expert during the Obama campaign and currently serving as Hillary Clinton’s State Innovation Advisor, we now live in the information age. We live at the time when DATA, which includes bytes and information, is the major currency of companies and countries. People fight for information rights and internet security.

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Most Filipinos are even willing to elect a President who can improve the state of our internet. It is also interesting to note that this activist-mindset are carried out via social media, and are done using available technologies.

Nation of Internet Users

Our country is home to 102M Filipinos. Around 50% of Filipinos can access the internet based on the data provided by GlobalWebIndex. In fact, the number of internet users in the Philippines is more than the population of Spain (46M), or Taiwan and Sri Lanka combined (23M + 20M).

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In terms of active social media user accounts in our country, IFCCI Digital India said that almost 100% of internet users have active social media accounts. It is safe to say that the Philippines is, indeed, the social media capital of the world.

Here is a quick snapshot of the world vs the Philippines.

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Mobile Snapshot

Our country is a hotspot of mobile connections. According to the research done by WeAreSocial and Vkontakte, there are 119.2M mobile connections triggered by users in the Philippines.

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Despite the number of mobile connections, there is still room for growth in terms of smartphone penetration in the Philippines. In fact, smartphone penetration in our country is still not more than 55%, but the growth every month has been very steady. Growth is expected to peak in the next few years until 2018 – thanks to local players like Cherry Mobile, MyPhone and Starmobile. In fact, in an interview by Manila Bulletin with Sean Gowran of Ericsson Philippines, smartphone penetration in the Philippines is expected to rise to 70% by 2018.

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Since price is a sensitive issue in the Philippines, purchasing a smartphone for Filipinos is an aspirational task. It isn’t surprising to see some Filipinos buying a new smartphone every 4 months because prices have gone low. In fact, the big 3 local smartphone brands I mentioned earlier sell smartphones within $19 – $250 range.

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In a news by Rappler, “Local vendors started dominating market share starting second quarter of 2013, grabbing 50% of the smartphone market share.” Samsung was overtaken by Cherry Mobile. Samsung was followed by MyPhone, another local player; and then the 4th spot was snatched by Lenovo.

This trend had also given impetus to the growth of demand for data-centric services. Suddenly, people who were once clamoring for more air time and text messages have now been demanding for more data allocations and faster internet speeds.

Filipinos aren’t just fond of buying mobile phones. We are also into owning laptops and tablets. Interestingly, Filpinos have started embracing the values of streaming devices such as Chromecast, Kata Box and Apple TV last 2015; and wearable devices like Apple Watch, Google Wear, Fitbit and Runtastic.

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Rise of Gaming and Game Development in the Philippines

Another thing that’s very close to my heart – and probably to yours too – is gaming. Gaming in the Philippines has started to grow. The number of gamers – mobile, PC and console – are also growing steadily since 2014. In the recent data by GDAP (Game Developers Association of the Philippines), we are the 3rd largest mobile gaming population in Southeast Asia in 2014 with 25.1 million players. Today, it is very like that 70% of smartphone owners play something on their mobile devices.

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Anyone here who hasn’t tried playing basketball on Facebook messenger?

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As of 2013, the Philippines has over 60 game development companies employing about 4,000 game develoeprs. GDAP hopes to increase the number of game professions to 15,000 in 2016. This isn’t actually from reach as more big game developer companies are starting to take notice and scouting talents. Companies like our company – Pioneer Insurance – has also started to mine this growing industry with our upcoming interschool game development competition. This is our way of introducing our brand to the Gen Y while making ourselves look sexy to the younger generation.

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In its constant pursuit to promote technology research and innovation, De La Salle University forged a partnership with leading gaming industry player, Ubisoft. The partnership was formally announced on March 29 at the Makati Shangri La Hotel.

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Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is gaining traction in the Philippines. In fact, the new Galaxy S7 smartphones bundled with Samsung Gear VR are selling very well. Categories related to virtual reality on marketplaces like Steam, iOS AppStore and Google Playstore are packed with apps and games , and it’s expected to grow in the next months. How does this concern the realty industry? Well, you will be surprised to know that it’s starting to become significant on marketing and even design.

Here’s a photo of my dad watching a horror film through his VR glasses. Yep, no kidding. He actually enjoyed it, and has been constantly asking me for YouTube links for more thrilling 360-degree VR-compatible videos.

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Realty Bytes

The market has truly changed, and technology has played a major role in the big shift. The thing is – there are realities in technology that make everything really exciting for us – for the industry we’re totally in love.

Let’s link the trends to the industry. How is it catching up with tech trends?

Whether you’re in the insurance or in property business, the process of selling didn’t actually change. From the usual starting point of prospecting to approach, and then to fact-finding and sales presentation, nothing has actually changed.

We prospect by looking for possible buyers of our product and identifying the type of product that we need to offer. We have to think about the type of approach we are going to execute, and find and present the best solution or configuration that can best suit their need. The process never actually changed. It just improved.

This is Chateau Louis XIV. It is the most expensive house sold at USD 301M.

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It was sold by CogeMad, a 25 year old company that specializes in creating exceptional estates and interiors. What’s interesting about this is their ways of selling the products hasn’t actually changed every since they put up their company 25 years ago. They have been utilizing available technologies – like most of our companies here in the Philippines – and have been incessantly trying to see what will work.

If you visit their website, they will be able to give you a complete 360 degree of Chateau Louis XIV.

Other Available Digital Tools available for Realty Industry

You will agree with me that there are new and available tools that can make selling properties a lot exciting. Companies and even property agents may be able to use these tools to land a sale.

For instance, 2 months ago, ZipMatch was launched in the Philippines. At last, prospects or consumers in the Philippines can now easily check out available properties.

They are pioneering VR and offline virtual tours via a mobile app. Nothing beats the effectivity of having model houses and properties that our prospects can totally experience. Virtual reality may be a way of escaping the costly reality of putting up model houses, but it’s definitely cost effective.

This is the Ricoh Theta S. It’s a spherical VR Digital Camera that can shoot LIVE or recorded 360-degree stills and videos at Full HD. It only costs less than $400. This one’s a pretty good investment for property agents and even companies.

Photo Credit: PCMag

Photo Credit: PCMag

Here’s a sample video taken using Ricoh Theta S

We also live at the time when computing and homes are starting to converge. We are at the time when we need to acknowledge the importance of spaces at home; spaces that may be used for virtual reality and room-scale experience. But this doesn’t mean that we need to clear our guest room for VR alone. The first wave of virtual reality hardware like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift require bigger spaces where users need to be in. There are some far more advanced products that allow users to use the space to make the experience more immersive. That’s what I’m more excited about, but hey – it wouldn’t hurt much if you have both, right?

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Traditional, digital and social channels and promo tools are better together. They complement each other in terms of allowing companies to connect to more prospects. The challenge is to properly utilize everything in unison. I took the liberty of coming up with a campaign that uses multiple prospecting channels.

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Using location-based tool or beacons, a prospect who walks into a location (e.g., where a prime property will soon be put up), will receive an SMS or notification that says ““Hey there! Did you know that you just passed by a prime property spot that’s totally bang for your buck? Check how it looks on Facebook. ”

Prospects who engages with the link will get redirected to the main campaign page. The campaign page may be a 360 video of the computer generated video of the property that will soon rise the spot at Facebook, or it could simply be a website that shows the details of soon-to-rise property.

What’s even more interesting is the amount of data you can get whether or not prospect click/tap the link. You can assess the foot traffic, gauge the interest and engagement of audience. The possibilities are endless.

In closing, I wish to say that technology does not make our products amazing. It is simply an indomitable facet of showing our already amazing product – a place where the heart can feel rested and loved.

Presentation FIle

Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.

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