Virtual viewing Paragon Living launches new technology that lets potential buyers take a digital walk-through of a finished house while still under contruction
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/02/2022 (237 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Homebuilder, Paragon Living, has made a name for itself in the Winnipeg market building quality infill homes and is now starting to add more medium and larger-scale multi-family developments to its portfolio.
But the company, led by Nigel Furgus, has a soft spot for building one-off, bespoke luxury homes, the kind of projects that fuel the company culture — not necessarily its bottom line, he said.
“The custom homes are our chance to put our best foot forward, to showcase all of our talents and it keeps the culture around the office,” he said.
That culture is all about being one step ahead of market trends and bringing in above-market products at below-market rates.
With plans on the books to develop 500 apartments in the Winnipeg market over the next three years, Paragon will pick and choose its infill projects, doing only three to five per year.
With the kind of red-hot demand now present in the market and Furgus’s instincts for innovation and interest in technology, the company wanted to come up with a new twist on marketing a large home they have under construction at 425 Kelvin Blvd.
Soon, about 200 people on Paragon’s waiting list will start receiving detailed digital imagery — hard to distinguish from an actual photograph — of what the 5,200 square-foot house will look like.
Paragon has its own in-house digital rendering capabilities, and for this property, it will introduce something that may be the first on the market: a digitally produced virtual “walk-through” of the house featuring images of exactly what the house will look like, months before it is completed.
“The interest point for me is the metaverse and all the developments in the virtual world that are going on now,” Fergus said. “I thought to myself, being innovative and forward-thinking, what better time than right now.”
Paragon has a successful track record selling its infill homes at or above list price on the offer date. Since there is obviously only a niche market for a $2.35 million home — what 425 Kelvin Blvd. will list at — the virtual walk-through would be a way to expand that market and get the property in front of more people.
Still, only qualified prospective buyers will have the chance to experience the virtual walk-through.
David De Leeuw, real estate agent at Royal LePage Prime Real Estate and Paragon’e exclusive listing agent for the property, believes it’s the kind of service that will remove some of the risk buyers are encountering in this era of bidding wars.
In the last 20 months, De Leeuw has sold five properties to people who did not physically lay eyes on the property before they bought it.
“That’s equal to the number I sold that way in the previous 30 years,” said the veteran agent.
De Leeuw believes it’s his job to mitigate the risks buyers seem more inclined to take these days because of the current imbalance between supply and demand.
“Fear is never a good thing. It never adds to the enjoyment of acquiring something,” he said.
The digital presentation includes high-resolution renderings indistinguishable from photos (although the home is still under construction) with digital assets created for every detail in the house, down to the labels on the bottles in the bar and the shadows cast by the jackets hanging on coat hooks. Those in the know will be able to identify Kohler’s high-end Kallista faucets.
Paragon invested about $30,000 to build the technology but it’s not looking for a return on investment, per se.
Furgus said his decision to not cut corners was one of the best decisions he ever made. It may sound obvious, but the fact is it sometimes means a lower return on investment or profit margin.
It’s one thing for a builder to be worried about its bottom line, but the real estate business should be relationship-oriented, De Leeuw said.
“You want your customers to feel confident about what they are buying. You don’t want them to have anxiety about what the home is actually going to look like,” he said.
The technology will allow Paragon to sell properties long before they are complete.
“From a business perspective, that’s great. If you have a project that’s already sold, it means you can start working on the next one,” De Leeuw said.
Paragon has plenty of growth on its immediate horizon, but Furgus said licensing or selling the virtual walk-through technology is not part of that equation.
“It’s not in the cards to bring it to the market,” he said. “We always like to be one step ahead. I feel like this kind of gives us that market advantage.”
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.