By combining virtual reality and artificial intelligence, Ristella Systems aims to deliver a more efficient future of homeownership.
Last year, the company announced Ristella Home, which is built from the ground up in Toronto’s Silicon Beach. The software uses a virtual reality headset as an interface with a real estate agent’s app to help consumers find a home, price it and even record a video that shows how their home will look in various scenarios.
“You don’t need a minimum down payment – you can do a purchase with a zero down payment,” says Matthew Dhaliwal, founder and CEO of Ristella Systems.
The system has been running since January and has helped around 4,000 people so far. Up to now, the software has been used as an advertising tool, but Dhaliwal believes the future of purchasing real estate will be a lot more interactive.
“Our vision is really to provide a video that you can virtually visit with your agent, where you get to see what your home is going to look like in terms of what colour is being used and how it’s going to be lit in different scenarios,” he says.
“Once you’re satisfied with that video, you come and get a quote based on your criteria.”
Using technology to help homeowners
Dhaliwal says the interest in Ristella Home has been fantastic, but he feels his company is still much too small to compete with the bigger companies in the real estate business. He plans to add 1,000 users to its initial 4,000 in the coming months.
“We don’t have the resources and we don’t have the reach and the size that our competitors do,” he says. “We are moving in the right direction to be a serious force in the market.”
The market Ristella is hoping to impact is in the middle market. Real estate brokers that the average consumer is used to seeing have much larger blocks of properties to sell – in one example, Cavendish Real Estate Group lists 46,000 properties with a value of $24.1 billion. In comparison, Ristella is hoping to reach around five million investors.
“On average, they are price-conscious investors, whereas most of our competitors are selling mansions with multimillion dollar upgrades,” says Dhaliwal.
Get out the money and maybe get something…
Ristella’s software allows you to purchase with a 20 per cent down payment and then pay an additional two and a half per cent in equity to the agent. This allows the buyer to participate in the property’s price appreciation – something that can be difficult to do without touching the capital outlay.
Ristella has sold about 100 homes since it launched. The average selling price of a home owned by the firm is now around $1.4 million.
Jas Natham, director of sales and marketing at Cavendish Real Estate Group, says that making homeowners feel more in control of their home purchases is crucial for growth in the Canadian real estate market. He says it helps them deal with a lot of challenging situations that homeowners face.
“Anything we can do to add value is always helpful,” says Natham. “Our companies work very hard to keep servicing low-income clients.”
Dhaliwal says he believes once the Canadian housing market stabilises, investors will want to buy and fix up their home, such as Aubrey Stewart, who has invested $20,000 on wallpaper, ceiling tiles and a fresh coat of paint to “re-do” his home. The 25-year-old plans to use the money he is saving to buy a city-home in Toronto’s Bloor West Village, to follow his dream of working in the tech industry.
“If my money has any savings, I’ll put it towards my home,” he says. “Because once it’s paid off, I can pay it back with some extra.”
Source: CBSNews / KITV