Architects click on a simple idea to market real estate property

Ancent Odindo and Jonathan Chirchir (right)  at their Nairobi office. The two create interactive virtual tour packages for property marketers. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Ancent Odindo and Jonathan Chirchir (right) at their Nairobi office. The two create interactive virtual tour packages for property marketers. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

An animated video of Deer Park estate in Karen has been making the rounds on the Internet.

The development comprising 10 town houses has sold several of its Sh100 million units off-plan through the clip uploaded on YouTube.

The virtual tour of the houses starts with an aerial 360 degrees view of the project area and suburb, followed by a drive through the gated community, giving the viewer a feel of what to expect as you enter the estate.

Walk through the living room, or step into the bedroom in real time—the video takes you through the front door into every single room before moving outside to the pool area and gardens. Every intricate detail inside and outside the house is shown.

Jonathan Chirchir and Ancent Odindo are the minds behind this virtual tour of the Karen development through their company —Vertex Studios.

Both graduates of architecture from the University of Nairobi, the two were intrigued by how the real estate sector is changing from plain architectural drawings to 3D renderings and animation and started the company that solely works on interior and exterior visualisation of property, walk-throughs, 3D plans and scaled models.

The duo says demand is high for architectural animation in Kenya as developers have identified the value-added benefit it gives when marketing a property.

“Previously many would get these services from companies outside the country, which gave us a leeway to start the business that focuses on architectural visualisation,” says Mr Chirchir.

Most of their projects are off plan; however they still have on-site projects and buildings which need architectural visualisation.

“Investors want to have a feel of what the house looks like on the inside and the outside and getting a visual walk through into the house is the best marketing strategy for real estate developers,” says Mr Odindo, adding that potential buyers want to see all the features of the home.

Eddy Matu a photographer with 360 Tours, the company behind the Green Park and English Point Marina virtual tours says the trend in real estate sector is big as more developers seek to market their properties to a wider audience.

“Most developers are using them in housing expos and sending links to people in the diaspora,” he says.

Mr Matu says unlike still photography, virtual tours show all aspects of the house as well as a 360 view of the house through the hot spots and navigation arrows.

Companies doing the virtual tours work with interior designers to bring out the best images of the house, including interior design, fittings inside the house as well as lighting.

They also work with the architect(s) behind the project and use their computerised architectural designs for animation and for dimensional accuracy when designing the visual work.

Apart from the residential projects, virtual tours have now been adopted by lodges, shopping malls, learning institutions , hotels, and offices both high end and mid-level.

County governments are also keeping up with the trend to bring out visions of their urban housing plans .
On the Vertex Studio website is the visual representation of Mombasa County’s vision of urban living in 2035 which also shows how the government hopes to develop its housing.

Mr Chirchir says most of their clients have big projects.

“Developers have realised architectural visualisation is a modern way of marketing online using digital images, and can save it on soft copy to be distributed to channels such as YouTube or on an online brochure,” he says, adding that it is a better and cheaper way of marketing compared to having a show house or an advert on television.

The cost factor also depends on the complexity of the projects and the terms of the contract because each client’s needs are different.

Companies also charges different rates, ranging from Sh50, 000 to Sh500, 000 for complex projects.

“This is a fresh, fast and interactive way of showing property other than using a show house which is an extra cost but with visual animation of the house one can target a larger audience,” says Mr Odindo.

The duo says that one can actually sell 50 per cent of a project using visual tours.

Other than marketing , the developer can also use the method to present a proposal for project funding from banks.

Another advantage is that one can customize the house to suit the client’s preference. For example one can change the colours in the house or change certain aspects of the project to suit the client’s needs on the visual animation.