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Melbourne agent conducts first Virtual Reality-enhanced property auction

A Melbourne real estate agent is believed to be the first auctioneer to sell a residential property under the hammer while wearing Virtual Reality goggles, which meant the vendors could see all the action.

Ray White Cheltenham agent and auctioneer Greg Brydon sold the converted church at 3/30A Ormond Rd, Elwood, and said the world first VR property auction lasted just over nine minutes, with the hammer falling at $1.487 million. 

“After I described the property the actual auction only lasted four minutes,” Mr Brydon said.

“Four minutes and we made history.

“My sellers felt like they were in the thick of the action. 

“Never before has a seller had the ability to directly see what the auctioneer sees and/or communicate with them in real time to provide instructions to put the home ‘on the market’.

“No more peeking through the curtains, my sellers could see what I could see.”

Mr Brydon said wearing the VR goggles, from local Melbourne company Webtron, meant the vendors could get a feel for how the auction was flowing and playing out.

“They get a real time understanding exactly how hard we’re working, what we’re doing in the auction, people’s body language, how they’re bidding and what the crowd looks like,” he said.

“A lot of the time, as an auctioneer, if we have a half-time break or walk inside to seek vendors’ instructions, the vendors are asking us lots of questions about who has been bidding, how has it been, is it fast or is it slow, who holds the top bid?

“So for them to be able to see exactly what we were seeing, as an auctioneer, was pretty powerful.”

Mr Brydon said the bidding opened at $1.275 million and quickly rose to $1.3 million and then $1.35 million, before bids slowed down to $20,000 increments. 

“My sellers are absolutely stoked with the result, they are downsizers and have loved their time in the Elwood lifestyle and community. 

“The new owner is a lady from Sassafras in the Dandenong Ranges.”

Mr Brydon said a lot of preparation went into preparing for the auction, including selecting a unique property with a lot of interest and educating both the vendors and the potential buyers on what he would look like, what they would see and how the process would work.

He said he had sold the vendors’ daughter’s property previously, so he had built a trusted relationship and they realised the extra attention and media coverage using the VR headset could bring to their property.

“Just to have them in that immersive atmosphere was amazing,” Mr Brydon said.

“They were sitting inside, like they were watching an auction on TV.

“Just sitting inside, at a computer, watching exactly what was happening with their most expensive asset.

“So it was pretty cool for them.”

Mr Brydon said a lot of work also went into preparing the potential buyers so as not to spook them from bidding.

“Any of the parties that were intending on bidding, or even had a thought of bidding, had been sent a text message during the week of what I would look like with it (the VR goggles) on,” he said.

“If I had rocked up on the day and they had no idea what was happening, and they didn’t have any preparation, it may have stunted their plans. 

“At the end of the day, we work for the vendors and we want to get the best possible result. 

“If we have bidders that are spooked, that’s not going to happen.” 

Mr Brydon said the technology worked seamlessly and he would be happy to use the VR goggles again, with the right vendors and the right property.

He said it was important to have vendors that were open to the idea, understood the process and calm about the auction selling process.

“We were having a bit of a chuckle the other day that if the vendors decided to kick up a stink in the middle of the auction and start yelling at me, they could potentially do that,” Mr Brydon chuckled.

“I had the power to override that with a mute button on the headset.

“But if you had the wrong vendor, it could turn ugly pretty quickly.”

Mr Brydon’s auction was one of 1900 capital city auctions held last week, with CoreLogic figures showing a preliminary clearance rate of 72.9 per cent. 

The volume of auctions was roughly in line with the previous week, but 9.4 per cent higher than the same week a year ago when 1739 homes were taken to auction.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.