Sat, Feb 15, 2020 - Page 12 News List

Virtual property tours open up new way to sell in China

Reuters, HONG KONG

China’s property developers and realtors are turning to virtual reality salesrooms and livestream marketing to thaw a frozen market as the COVID-19 outbreak keeps physical offices closed and potential buyers are afraid to leave their homes.

A female employee of Sunac China (融創中國) introduced a residential development in the southern city of Qingyuan on social media platforms Tiktok and Sina Weibo wearing a white gown and waving a paper fan.

The livestream on Tuesday attracted a total of 510,000 viewers for Sunac, China’s fourth-largest developer by sales, but it was unclear whether any of them bid for the property.

Twenty of the top 100 developers have done livestream sales since the start of the outbreak, property researcher CRIC said, adding that 92 of them run online sales platforms which some recently revamped in response to the virus.

Property sales by floor area in China fell 0.1 percent last year, marking the first full-year decline in five years, and analysts expect that sales might drop again this year due to the epidemic.

The outbreak has led to several cities being locked down, mass quarantines and work and travel disruptions as Beijing works to contain COVID-19.

Major realtors including Centaline (中原地產) are also doing more live forums online, hosting talks with senior executives on the property market.

Trying to make homebuyers more comfortable in buying online, Centaline plans to work with property developers to build virtual salesrooms for their new developments.

“The online sales platform has been around for a while, but it was mostly for advertising and chats between agents and buyers,” Centaline Shenzhen general manager Alan Cheng said.

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