Fewer than 10% of homes sold via virtual real estate transactions

A small percentage of homes are sold without the buyer seeing the property in person:

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The National Association of Realtors first started collecting data on virtual real estate transactions in April 2020, according to Jessica Lautz, deputy chief economist and vice president of research. Virtual home sales, which are sometimes referred to as “blind offers” or “sight unseen sales,” peaked at 13% of all transactions in January 2022. By November 2022, that number dropped to 9%.

Lautz sees two drivers for virtual sales, beyond the pandemic. “It’s not only because inventory is tight, but people are moving longer distances. It might be very difficult to make your way to that home before it is under contract,” she said. “If you’re moving to a different state, the ability to quickly book a flight because that perfect home has just come onto the market may be impossible.”…

Lautz sees virtual transactions continuing, even if they’re less frequent. “If you had asked me that at the start of the pandemic, I would have thought it was a fluke. But it seems to be here to stay.”

Virtual transactions may reflect another shift, as the National Association of Realtors sees the median distance folks relocate increasing to 50 miles. “It makes sense because of housing affordability, people are moving farther out because of hybrid or remote work,” Lautz said. Being close to friends and family is top priority for so many buyers today, so they may be moving to a different area to seek that.”

Several thoughts in reaction to these numbers:

-I thought the percentage might have been higher during the pandemic. But, even then, seeing a property in person matter mattered.

-How much can technology remedy the desire to see a property in person? How long until prospective buyers could walk through a housing unit in the virtual realm? This is related to the biggest question I have: how well could technology substitute for being in a space? One matter is feeling like you were in person and could experience everything. Another matter is whether the technology allows you to consider everything. If that technology could be improved, maybe it can provide enough or all of the experience.

-Would more virtual showings increase the need for realtors or reduce them? If the main issue is technology being able to show everything about a unit, I could imagine it done without a realtor. If the main issue is about knowing a community and having connections, then the realtor continues even if the technology improves.

Bringing large cities to the Metaverse

Meta may not have done well in this past week’s news cycle but at least one global city is headed to the Metaverse:

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This month, Seoul plans to launch the first stage of Metaverse Seoul, an ambitious five-year plan to code a digital re-creation of the South Korean capital. When it’s finished, residents will be able to explore historical sites, tour museums, attend virtual events, and even stop by City Hall to hack away at red tape without leaving their couches. Given Governor Jared Polis’ love of all things high-tech—including collecting state taxes in cryptocurrencies—it’s only a matter of time until Colorado follows suit, starting with our own capital city. Which is why we came up with some of Metaverse Denver’s most important points of interest.

There are a lot of possibilities here in addition to what Seoul is pursuing. Should a city aim for a brick for brick recreation? A hint or flavor of the offline city? A new kind of experience? An online site meant for tourists and/or those considering relocating? A place to try out new ideas? A gathering place for current residents?

One quick reminder as cities and communities consider this: the online and offline realms are not separate. What ends up in the Metaverse at the behest of cities will be connected to the offline city and vice versa.

Autonomous vehicles to intensify motion sickness

A new study suggests self-driving cars will make motion sickness worse:

For adults, motion sickness will be more of an issue in self-driving vehicles than in conventional vehicles. Some are expected to experience motion sickness often, while others may actually feel sick every time they’re riding in an autonomous vehicle, a study by researchers at The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute revealed…

Mr. Sivak and his co-researcher Brandon Schoettle looked at the three main factors that cause motion sickness (conflict between vestibular and visual inputs; inability to anticipate the direction of motion; and lack of control over the direction of motion) and determined that they are elevated in self-driving vehicles…

It’s become evident that self-driving cars will replace traditional cars in the future, and when this happens, all adults (who are most prone to motion sickness) will be passengers at all times. Mr. Sivak clarified that being a passenger in an autonomous vehicle will be quite different than riding along in a train or other mode of public transportation, for, unlike trains, self-driving cars will be subject to more lateral acceleration/deceleration as well as longitudinal acceleration/deceleration that is drastically less smooth. The small windows won’t help either.

The other major factor in the increased prevalence of motion sickness is what adults will do whilst in cars instead of driving. In an opinion survey of 3,255 adults from the U.S., China, India, Japan, Australia and the U.K., respondents named reading, talking/texting, sleeping, watching movies/TV, working and playing games as the activities they’ll engage in while riding in self-driving cars. According to the study, almost all of the activities mentioned worsen the frequency and severity of motion sickness.

An interesting side effect of a new technology. But, this means that automakers can/should include virtual reality devices to ease the ride – they won’t just be cars but rather entertainment pods! Everyone can be like the kids of today who ride in the expensive minivans and SUVs watching their split screen entertainment systems while holding their tablets and smartphones…