virtual reality: Chinese real estate firms rely on virtual reality as fears of viruses hit the market

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<pre><pre>virtual reality: Chinese real estate firms rely on virtual reality as fears of viruses hit the market
China's property developers and real estate agents are turning to virtual reality sales and live marketing rooms to unfreeze a frozen market as the coronavirus epidemic keeps physical offices closed and potential buyers are afraid to leave their homes.

A Sunac China employee introduced a residential development in the southern city of Qingyuan on the Tiktok and Weibo social media platforms in a white dress and waving a paper fan.

Tuesday's live broadcast attracted a total of 510,000 viewers for Sunac, China's fourth largest developer by sales, but it was not clear if any of them bid for the property.

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Twenty of the top 100 developers have made live sales since the virus outbreak, said real estate researcher CRIC, adding that 92 of them run online sales platforms that some recently renewed in response to the virus.

Property sales by floor area in China fell 0.1% in 2019, marking the first decline of a full year in five years, and analysts expect sales to fall again this year due to the epidemic.

The outbreak resulted in the closure of several cities, massive quarantines and interruptions in work and travel, while Beijing works to contain the flu-like virus that killed 1,380 people and made more than 60,000 sick.

Leading real estate agents, including Centaline, are also making more live forums online, organizing conversations with senior executives in the real estate market.

Trying to make homebuyers feel more comfortable shopping online, Centaline plans to work with property developers to build virtual sales rooms for their new developments.

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

"Now, since homebuyers cannot go out and see the apartments themselves, we will focus on providing more real live videos to interact with them."

He said the firm presented online contracts this week that involve third-party authentication technology in two cities, one of the first in the industry, so that buyers can sign documents without leaving home.

Efforts are also being made offline.

China Evergrande, the third largest developer for sales, announced Thursday that homebuyers are entitled to a lower price guarantee until May 10, where the company will reimburse buyers for the difference if prices fall.

Sunac, depending on the city, allows its customers to lose the purchase for free within a period of up to 60 days.

Despite the creative efforts of the industry, the market has completely stopped.

Cheng de Centaline said the few transactions now appeared mainly in the rental market or when sellers were willing to reduce prices for personal reasons.

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