The real estate sector is already building its future in the metaverse



ALICIA ARAGON
Updated: 04/24/2022 04:43h
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Everyone talks about it, but few have taken the step and have fully entered these virtual worlds. The metaverse is still in its infancy, and although many view it skeptically or call it a speculative bubble, more and more people equate it with the paradigm shift that the internet or social networks once represented.

According to the Wildbytes agency, 70% of the big brands will be in the metaverse in five years. The range of industries that see how they can go one step further is growing every day: fashion, art, delivery... and of course, 'real estate', since "the possibility of
explore new businesses in the metaverse
it is a train that the most innovative companies in the real estate sector do not want to miss”, reveals Fernando Valero, business and innovation consulting partner at Grant Thornton Spain.

In the real world, land is an essential real estate asset. When it transcends the physical plane and moves into the metaverse, it is also conceived as an authentic object of desire in the form of virtual plots. According to MetaMetric Solutions, the four top metaverses of the moment, The Sandbox, Decentraland, CryptoVoxels and Somnium Space, invoiced more than 500 million dollars in 2021. The firm expects that in 2022 this figure will double.

In Spain there are also success stories, such as that of Uttopion, promoted by Lanzadera, the startup accelerator of the president of Mercadona, Juan Roig. "We have billed one million euros in the sale of virtual land since we started the sale in mid-February," says Soraya Cadalso, co-founder of this metaverse, adding that "the price range ranges from 2,000 to 40,000 euros."

The irruption of these parallel universes can make promoters, builders and intermediation agencies turn their work model around, taking advantage of the functionalities offered by these environments: from having full control of the life cycle of a building through a twin digital to market your products and interact with the customer to another level. Metrovacesa has been the pioneer in "conducting a proof of concept", points out Carmen Chicharro, the firm's commercial, marketing and innovation director, "to test a new relationship channel with a 100% digital customer profile, as well as its predisposition to acquire a physical or virtual home.

"Funny Madness"

To bring the Málaga Towers promotion to Decentraland they have had the help of Datacasas Proptech. Its CEO, the architect Santiago Cabezas-Castellanos, defines the metaverse as "a kinesthetic way of gamifying a space", arguing that, to sell in it, "imagination, creativity and really putting the customer at the center is needed" because "the metaverse It's a fun but real madness that will multiply sales."

In fact, the intention is not to remain a mere virtual tour. Marketing in the metaverse is a 'branding' action. Cadalso insists that we must "seek the integrating part of the community, and that users interact socially, but also economically." In this sense, Chicharro confirms that the experience is helping them "assess new forms of payment and investment through NFTs and, with this, analyze whether there is a new business model in the metaverse."

The blockchain factor

To take this step and provide assets with liquidity, the 'blockchain' is the key. This secure, traceable and immutable technology is responsible for assets being able to be tokenized and transacted through cryptocurrencies as they are conceived as a smart contract, "a piece of computer code that represents an asset that is unique and irreplaceable", defines Fernando Valero.

The generation of value will be one of the keys for the real estate sector to monetize its activity in these immersive 3D worlds based on web3, the next Internet revolution. Valero gives an example: «If a developer buys a virtual plot of land, which is an NFT, and endows it with certain attributes, for example, a design by a prestigious architect, it is logical to think that this NFT is worth more. Blockchain is the technology that allows this increase in value to be reflected thanks to the fact that there will be a third party that can acquire the promoter's NFT within the same ecosystem.

virtual buildings

Hybrid business models that foster interaction between the virtual and physical worlds will be the main stage. Thus, digital buildings that replicate a real one are the big bet, since according to the Grant Thornton Spain spokesperson, they open the door to everything related to asset management, from the visit, purchase and personalization of homes to the attention and customer loyalty.

But such a promising scenario is not exempt from encountering obstacles in its path. First of all, you have to ensure accessibility to the metaverse.
Devices such as augmented reality glasses, tactile gloves or virtual reality helmets have a price that is not within the reach of all pockets,
while cryptocurrency wallets are still in the minority. These stoppers revealed by Cadalso "put limitations on enjoying the experiences of the metaverses." In fact, from Uttopion they point out that "there are metaverses that are taking steps back because they have developed technology that is ahead of society."

Waiting

With regard to the housing market, Cabezas-Castellanos is clear that "buyers are not yet ready to put on virtual reality glasses, or use complex technological procedures, they simply want to see their future home in a simple way, which generates positive emotions”. But the features of the metaverse are constantly released, tested and improved so that everyday tasks like going to a concert, playing sports, holding a meeting and buying a house are possible within a decentralized and democratized channel.

Building a new corporate culture

The metaverse found an ally in the confinement caused by Covid. "The pandemic has been the turning point, accelerating an unstoppable reality," says Renata Sujto, general director of eXp Spain. Technology allowed that, when physical contact was not possible, there was an effective alternative. Companies take note and virtual offices are spreading because “the opportunity to use the metaverse in the daily management of a company is really attractive”, adds the expert. "We manage the day-to-day of more than 80,000 people without physical interaction, generating a strong feeling of belonging," confesses Sujto, convinced that "a world as fascinating as virtual reality" has a long way to go.

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