Photo credit: Jonathan Bane Real Estate

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the flood of conversation on social media involving the (relatively) new game of Pokémon Go. It’s, basically, an app that allows its users to play a newer version of a popular 90’s anime TV show turned card game/video game, in which the primary goal is to collect fictional pocket monsters (Pokémon). These little guys are then trained and pitted against each other in “battles”, with the winner collecting points. There are more elements involved, but that’s the main gist.

The Pokémon craze fizzled out as millennials turned their sights on newer technology, but Pokémon Go now brings the world of Pokémon to life. The iPhone and Android application allows players to travel around their neighborhoods and cities to catch Pokémon and battle other trainers at Pokémon gyms. The pocket monsters are placed randomly throughout the world, using GPS to tell players when they are in proximity to a Pokémon, a “gym” or a Pokestop (where users can collect free virtual items that power their Pokémon).

The resurgence of this game, coupled with the novelty of an augmented reality phone application has children AND adults of all ages wandering around town ‘hunting’ the small mythical monsters. Whether you play, think it’s annoying, or are indifferent, there is absolutely no denying that the game is making a huge impact on society. In fact, Pokémon currently has the largest number on average of engaged minutes per day on an application.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. It intersects the virtual and the real world using location based services to allow players to interact. This creates an environment where video games are no longer experienced from the couch, and players will have to go out into their neighborhoods to experience and win these games.

Based on the success of Pokémon Go, the concept is likely to take off from here. Experts predict we’ll be seeing more and more augmented reality games and applications as time goes on, and more than likely other mobile gaming companies will be reintroducing many of their older titles using this concept.

The real estate market, in particular, can capitalize on these technological advances to drive sales and marketing efforts. Imagine potential homebuyers having the ability to drive through a neighborhood and point their phones in a specific direction, getting the information of vacant or for sale properties in the area (there’s an app in the works for this already – it’s called HomeSpotter). It could also be used to generate a 3D visualization of floor plans, let viewers see inside of a home from the outside, or offer incentives for attending an open house.

Effects on the real estate world.Pokemon Go ad used by Jonathan Bane

Real estate agents are already using Pokémon Go as a selling point in home listings. Proximity to a Pokémon gym and a few PokeStops can be the icing on the cake for a player who’s looking to “catch em all”. Knowing that the craze is garnering so much attention, agents are referencing it in their home listing descriptions. Some are screenshotting the Pokémon that can be found around a home and placing the photos in their Facebook ads and open house announcements.

Pokémon Go (and other augmented reality games will eventually) get people out of their homes and interacting with the world, their neighborhoods, and the buildings in them. Through this experience, they are learning new things about their community, which could ultimately affect where they look when they seek to move next. For example, a person may become more familiar with a neighborhood they had never been in before because they’re out looking for a Pokémon gym.

Safety is always a big issue when it comes to a person’s home choice, but with children wanting to play outside again, parents might pay a bit more attention to the safety and walkability of their neighborhoods. They might find themselves asking “Is this a neighborhood I can see my children playing Pokémon Go in?”.

Cautions and longevity.

As with everything, there are some negative effects of the game. For example, many churches are designated as “gyms” throughout the United States. One couple had converted an old church into their home and had people flocking to it in droves. Additionally, some people may not know that Pokémon (and all characters associated with it) are under copyright. Therefore, they could technically get sued for using any Pokémon likeness in their marketing tactics. While it’s unlikely that the company will start targeting individual agents with lawsuits for posting a picture online, it’s always something to consider before making an ad.

‘Will this craze last?’ you might be asking yourself. As with most fads, Pokémon Go will likely end up going the way of the Beanie Baby. However, we think augmented reality is here to stay. So, staying ahead of the curve and using this technology to enhance the buying or selling process should be something everyone keeps top of mind.