Coldwell Banker Puts Real House on Second Life Block
Coldwell Banker builds a virtual version of real-life house in Second Life.
Aug. 2, 2007 — -- Virtual world du jour Second Life has long been a stomping ground for virtual realtors, as avatar upon avatar shells out Linden dollars (named for the lab that created the world) to buy tracts of virtual lands to build virtual homes for their virtual lives.
But today, Coldwell Banker, one of the nation's largest real estate brokerage firms, will bring that 3-D virtual world one step closer to reality, when it puts a real, brick-and-mortar house on the block in Second Life.
Second Life avatars can meet with an agent, tour the house — a more than $3 million new construction near Seattle — make a bid, and even negotiate a deal. Any documents that needed to be signed, however, would have to be done in the real world.
"We chose Seattle for a couple of reasons," Charlie Young, a Coldwell Banker senior vice president, said. "One, it was a progressive and innovative market. Two, the [housing] inventory could compete internationally."
The virtual house could provide an opportunity for buyers who are far away to take a look at the home, Young said.
Commerce, for everything from real estate to psychiatric services, is an essential part of virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft, and Entropia. Second Life, which has become exceedingly popular in the last few years, boasts more than 8 million members; in an average day, more than $1 million changes hands.
For Coldwell Banker, which has been selling and building virtual houses in Second Life for $20 a pop, the idea of marketing a real home in that space was a natural extension, according to Young.
"When you look at how homes are bought and sold today, the process has changed completely," he said.
Stephanie Singer, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Realtors, agreed.
"Realtors all over the country are advancing technology," she said, as more and more buyers and sellers use Web casts and YouTube to market their homes. "That's a big change from what you've seen 10 years ago."
Eighty-one percent of recent home buyers used the Internet to buy their homes, as opposed to 2 percent in 1995, according to the association.