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VR tech and immersive media has progressed in leaps and bounds since its first appearance in the gaming world of Nintendo Virtual Boy and Sega VR. Today, virtual reality has moved far beyond entertainment, and is being embraced by a host of other industries such as medical therapy, architectural design, archeology, education, military, aviation training, and…you guessed it, real estate.
It’s no revelation that the real estate industry has been radically changed by tech-savvy millennials entering the homeownership cycle and favouring purchase processes that are primarily online. From browsing for a home to communicating with brokers or sellers and booking visits, today’s real estate consumers expect quick, virtual and user-friendly technologies while shopping for a home. Newspapers have long been replaced by online searches, phone calls by email/text, and even legal documents are for the most part signed via mobile apps (who has the patience to print, sign, scan, save, email, etc when it can all be done with the click of a button?)
The next logical step in real estate was for initial open houses or home showings to be replaced by virtual reality. And indeed, innovative players in the home sales and construction domain have started opening new doors with consumer-oriented virtual home showings.
To the buyer, augmented reality improves the home searching process in a number of ways. Homebuyers have the ability to tour multiple properties from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their own homes or at their broker’s office. For investors buying abroad or travelling professionals, a virtual showing could save time and money to both the buyer and seller.
Virtual reality allows buyers to perceive layout, dimensions and architectural details with more precision than is afforded by regular real estate photography. A buyer can zoom into the 360° panorama and feel like they’re inside the home. They can navigate between rooms, explore, and fully understand the design of the home. They can switch between different viewing modes, such as dollhouse view, floor plan view, blueprints, etc. With no effort or displacement, they can better visualize the space at hand.
Overall, the move towards VR is a win-win for both parties. Consumers have a better buying experience, and can more effectively narrow down their choices, while sellers can better communicate the details of their home, thus attracting more serious buyers.
Moreover, the use of augmented reality installs a positive sentiment in tech savvy young consumers. Since VR tech is still relatively new within the real estate industry, a seller offering a virtual tour of the home is more likely to engage, excite, and attract potential buyers, thereby bringing an important competitive advantage to the listing.