In the digital age, real estate has undergone a transformation in many ways. Rather than just picking up some flyers or doing a drive by, potential buyers can find all the information, take a virtual tour by viewing a marketing video, or have a live video chat with the agent before setting foot on the property. Foreign investors are snapping up investment deals, and selling them off without ever touring the property.
House flipping, a fad that was all the rage before the housing bubble burst, is coming back in style. Investor hopefuls are attending seminars and buying rehab properties in the hope of making a go at this risky, but sometimes lucrative. business opportunity. One of the hottest trends right now is digital real estate, where a domain name, app, virtual company or video game property is bought or sold.
With this ever changing market, those with experience with traditional commercial or residential real estate, as well as new players entering the market, need some guidance in navigating this vast marketplace. One place where players can learn a lot about real estate is online–by playing video games.
Here are five interesting video games that help teach the art of the deal.
1. Nova Alea
If you ever enjoyed building a metropolis by playing Sim City, you’ll know that one basic feature relevant in the real estate game is missing—outside forces totally ruining your plans. In the basic Sim model, the more you grow the better you do, but as in real life, this is not always the case. Game designer and professor Paolo Pedercini decided that to have a city you need some authentic characters and real life challenges to reflect today’s market.
The role participants play the Nova Alea which is is that of speculator whose challenge it is to operate in a land not made of mere sims, but a poetic blend of wealthy and disadvantaged humans who need coexist in order to survive and thrive in the environment, while being manipulated by outside economic forces and trends. Designed by Professor Pedercini and published by Molleindustria in 2016, Nova Alea is a game of gentrification.
As gentrification is a hot topic in the real estate world, this game shows the effect this phenomena has on the population at large. One aspect of the game that cleverly depicts the real world of real estate is you can build sky high but when the bubble bursts, your property virtually vanishes.
2. Second Life
If you want to speculate on some virtual land, Second Life is a hot market. Designed by Linden Labs and launched in 2003, it began as a tiny island in the middle of cyberspace. In a little more than 10 years, this virtual world has grown into a mammoth community where for pennies on the dollars, you can buy your own property using Lindens, the Second Life currency. Many would be real life speculators who don’t have the cash to invest in a beachfront bungalow can do so in the virtual world.
The second life real estate virtual marketplace looks amazingly like an MLS listing page featuring smiling faces of virtual agents whom you can contact for more information. You can rent properties weekly or monthly, and get some interesting upgrades for your existing properties like skylights to increase its value.
3. Entropia Universe
This 2003 role-playing game developed by Mindark came on the scene with little fanfare but then grew exponentially until it made headlines when a savvy power player investor named Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs, sold a popular virtual nightclub for a whopping $635,000. The 2010 transaction was conducted in PED, Entropia’s currency that works like the Second Life Linden and Bitcoin, but the payout was in real cash.
Most properties in the Entropia world don’t cost nearly that much; however, Entropia has made the record books for the most valuable properties ever sold. Entropia Universe says on the homepage that it’s a “Multi-World, Real Cash Economy Experience”.
4. Property Mogul
If you don’t have the cash to take real estate training but want to learn some secrets from the gold standard real estate giant, Century 21, this online game called Property Mogul, launched in Australia in 2011, is a good choice. It’s free to play and as in real life, you start small with just one million in virtual credit to spend and work your way up, learning the ins and outs of the market along the way. The game is set in a mythical land called Centropolis, a bustling city with different districts. You compete with others to see who can build the biggest property portfolio.
5. House Flip
Those addicted to house flipping shows might want to try their luck virtually before playing the actual real estate investment game. House Flip by Shockwave lets you buy, improve, and resell properties. The game does differs drastically from real life in that the reviews say that 5 minutes is plenty of time to clean, repair and upgrade a property. You play for tokens and trophies, so you don’t risk any real capital; however, it does give you an idea of how the flipping process works. Like Property Mogul this is a free game that is popular on social media like Facebook, so it’s easy to invite your friends to play along.
Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon
If you want to play a relatively old school video game to see if you can outsmart the Donald, try this 2002 Activision game that was updated for mobile phones in 2004. It’s still for sale and still making news as Vice Magazine published an editorial titled “What We Can Learn About Donald Trump from His 2002 Video Game.”Although the writer doesn’t have much good to say about Mr. Trump, he does note that the game received a 7.2 score from Gamespot. It is voiced by the real Donald Trump. This video game is an offshoot of Trump the Board Game.
While the game doesn’t necessarily teach you about real estate as it pertains to the home, it’s an excellent way to get familiar with city building as well as the types of things that make a city successful. For example, you don’t do well in the game if you’re building tons of Casinos because crime will go up. It strategically teaches you how to place particular properties and landmarks in alignment with one another.