You may have heard of the hottest new trend, Pokémon Go, that is sweeping the nation. If you haven’t heard of the game, you have probably seen people roaming the streets at all hours of the day, with their phone raised. No, they are not taking selfies – they are catching Pokémons! And you can play even if you don't know anything about the original Japanese anime.
Pokémon Go is the newest addition into the Pokémon gaming family. It is a free mobile app that can be downloaded on any iOS and Android phone. The purpose of the game is to catch the fictional Pokémon characters and prepare them for battle. The augmented reality game connects to a phone's camera and places virtual pokemons on real streets that can be seen through the phone's screen. The app challenges players to travel around their neighbourhoods to find these creatures. There are also places called Pokéstops which are used to collect free virtual items that benefit your Pokémon, as well as buildings used as “gyms”, were people gather to train their wondrous creatures and make them improve. Pokéstops and gyms are very important for the game, which means they are high-traffic and highly sought after areas, and it seems that the real estate market can benefit from them! Anyone who plays the game would be able to tell you if their own home has any Pokémons, Pokéstops or gyms in it!
In seizing this opportunity, more and more listings of properties for rent or sale are advertising nearby Pokéstops and gyms to attract potential tenants and buyers. Look at this listing for example:
Clearly, the person who posted the ad has found a way to put the interest in Pokemon to a good use!
Here is another:
As of this July 17th, the game has officially entered the Canadian market and gamers are making the servers crash! So what does that mean for the Canadian real estate market? Could a Pokéstop or a Pokémon gym near your home increase its value?
Such a question deserves thorough consideration. First of all, it is important to think about what demographic such advertising may attract. Though Pokémon Go has attracted people of all ages, ethnicities and cultures, it is most likely that Pokémon incentives will catch the eye of the 30 and under, first time buyer looking for a condo demographic. People in the first time buyer age group are the ones who grew up with the game and are most attracted to it. Most people like to reminisce on childhood memories, so it is no surpise that instead of seeing a majority of young teens, we see people in their early 20s playing this game. In other words, this type of sales tactic will not work for everyone across the board. However, this does not mean that it can't get your foot in the door, or to be used as an extra advertising tool. The question to consider is whether or not Pokémon Go has a strong enough influence to make a difference in a real estate sale. Realistically, there is a good chance it will not, but stranger things have happened... do you really want to miss out on a marketing tool because you didn't believe it was going to work?
You may also want to consider what a bunch of zombie-like gamers chasing virtual animals down the street could do to your home. Could they be more harm than benefit? At this point, we would say it is unlikely. The worst that could happen is that you get some uninterested people coming to the open house or stomping on the flowers. Of course, there are some exceptions but things can go wrong on any day and any situation. The important thing is that you want to expose your home for sale to as many people as possible, get the word out, and if Pokémon Go can help you advertise, then so be it.
So, is Pokémon going to have the faith of angry birds? Is it a new trend or just a fad that will be quickly forgotten? While we can only speculate and wait on time to show us, we predict that Pokémon Go is a fad that blew up overnight, got millions of people "addicted", but will pass just like similar games that exploded and faded, such as angry birds, flappy bird and the original Pokémon video game itself. Thus, sellers who consider using the game for their real estate benefit should do it before it is too late!
In conclusion, yes, Pokémon Go could help you sell or lease your home in some situations and to a specific demographic. There is not any evidence that the craze about the game has translated into a monetary value for home sellers. It may not help you increase the price but you could have a very successful advertising campaign using one of the hottest, trendiest and talked about apps sweeping Canada, the US, Australia and more. Either way, it is something new, interesting and talked about, and you never know when an opportunity will strike to take advantage of it!
July 25th, 2016
Team Riaz Ghani