Virtual reality has been making waves since 2010 when the first prototype of the pioneering Oculus Rift was introduced. Since then, technology giants like Google, Samsung and Microsoft have recognised the potential of simulated environments and have jumped onto the VR bandwagon.
In fact, virtual reality has become so accessible that it’s on track to becoming a $29.7 billion dollar industry in 2020 and is already transforming the real estate industry.
Michael Pachter, Analyst at Wedbush Securities told Fortune that he believes Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014 for “VR’s real estate potential”.
“You could do real estate open houses with 360-degree views and have a client come to your office and check out 50 homes through a head-mounted display and then pick the top ones to visit in person,” said Pachter.
However, it wasn’t until 2016 that virtual reality really gained momentum in the real estate industry. Let’s take a closer look at some virtual reality real estate technologies and how they’re transforming the industry:
realestate VR: Australia’s first virtual reality property app on Daydream
Launched in late 2016, realestate VR is the brainchild of Nigel Dalton, Group Chief Inventor at REA Group. The app allows property seekers and renters to experience guided virtual tours of different listings on Daydream, Google’s mobile VR platform.
Dalton believes that realestate VR “will change the way people experience and interact with property” and that virtual reality will “create a brand new experience for a whole new generation of property seekers”.
He explains that one of the biggest advantages of using virtual reality in the real estate industry is the amount of time it saves for everyone, “whether that’s property seekers, agents or property managers.”
Additionally, it saves potential buyers and tenants a lot of time attending open for inspections. With virtual reality, you can literally walk through multiple homes in a matter of minutes. This not only allows more potential buyers and tenants to view different properties remotely but also increases efficiency for real estate agents.
Real VR: Virtual reality tool for marketing off-plan properties
Similar to realestate VR, Real VR was launched in late 2016 but serves a slightly different market. The company was established to bridge the gap between virtual reality and project marketing landscapes.
While buying off-the-plan is often seen as attractive, particularly for first home buyers, there’s a disconnect when viewing the property. Real VR solves this problem by bringing the listing alive with 3D technology, immersing potential buyers in a “finished” property.
Jason Salter, Head of Real VR said that “creating a virtual tour is a fraction of the cost and has far greater reach. With a smartphone and headset, you can access an immersive, true-to-life experience of an off-the-plan apartment no matter where you are in the world.”
So not only can you save time and money, but virtual reality lets you perceive what your life can be in that particular space and even allows you to interact with that virtual environment to experience different amenities, layouts and designs. This allows for better marketing of off-plan properties and reduces the fear of the unknown for potential buyers, leading to decreased barriers to sale.
Matterport: Immersive 3D technology
One of the key players in the virtual reality real estate arena is Matterport. In fact, realestate VR was built on Matterport VR’s SDK (software development kit). The Matterport Pro 3D Camera scans the property and allows you to create your own Matterport Space, a three-dimensional representation of a real-world location. This can then be navigated across any device and in virtual reality through VR headsets.
The camera is a significant investment at $3600, so if you don’t manage many properties or you’re not looking to create many Spaces, there are many local service partners like Scann3d who can scan locations for you.
The Altman Brothers (Million Dollar Listing) explain that virtual reality and tools like Matterport are essential to winning mega listings and appealing to clients on a global scale. Potential, remote buyers “feel like they’re actually walking through the house and therefore, leads to an easier decision to make an offer on the property”.
All in all...
Virtual reality is transforming the real estate industry by saving agents and clients time and money, increasing efficiency and engagement, shortening property cycles, helping agents win more listings and decreasing barriers to sale for off-plan properties.
Moreover, with tech analyst firm Telsyte predicting VR penetration reaching 25.5% of households by 2021, it’s evident that virtual reality real estate is here to stay. Those who do not adopt VR will only lose out in market share as more and more real estate agencies embrace virtual reality technologies to their advantage.
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