Real Estate and Virtual Reality: When Worlds Collide

If you’ve been in a shopping centre lately (yes there are still a few around) you’ve likely seen folks queuing up at what seem like video game booths. Except there’s no video game screen or steering wheel or any other type of controls to be seen. Just some chairs and some strange looking boxes that those people are strapping to their heads. Welcome to virtual reality.

Virtual reality as a concept has been around for decades although it wasn’t able to migrate very far from the labs in which it was born until recently. As the amount of computing power available to consumers in PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones has grown exponentially in the past few years this long-time fringe technology has burst out into the open and with it an almost unlimited array of possible applications from medical to cinematic and everything in between.

The Real Estate and home buying industry too has seen great potential in virtual reality, for example home reports glasgow could actually carry out a full home report without actually having to visit a location. Also, VR with the Internet will allow clients in every corner of the world to experience a property without ever setting foot in it. Below we’ll explain how they’re going to do that.

Virtual Real Estate

The real estate industry is a forward thinking industry populated by men and women who make it their business to know what’s going on in the world. As such when new technologies are introduced real estate companies are typically some of the first to make use of them. So it is that as virtual reality (VR) has gained traction in the marketplace real estate companies have looked for and found new ways to put this breathtaking technology to work. To understand why VR would be attractive to real estate companies you only have to consider two of the biggest problems they typically face:

  1. The time required to make physical visits to sites to show prospective buyers and
  2. The fact that photos often don’t give a realistic idea what a property is like.

VR presents an ideal solution to both of these problems while also allowing a company to expand their potential customer base. Here are several ways real estate companies are employing VR to do that.

  • Augmented Reality Tours – This is the most common type of 3D virtual tour currently in use and is often mistakenly labelled Virtual Reality. With AR guided tours the entire home is shot in 360 degrees and then a dedicated web page is created where the ‘tour’ video file is available for viewing. If a home or commercial property is as yet unfinished the tour can be further augmented using models and/or 3D computer graphics. Narration and on screen notes describing various aspects of what the viewer is seeing can also be added in post-production. This type of augmented video is the first step in the direction of true VR and has become increasingly popular as a promotional device.

 

  • True VR Tours – The next step up is to actually immerse the viewer in a virtual environment created entirely in the computer and then uploaded to the Internet and linked to a VR headset. This provides the viewer with a level of interactivity simply not possible using a linear augmented reality video tour. In true VR if the client looks left they see what’s to the left in the virtual room. If they look down they see the floor and so on. Like the AR tour the VR tour is uploaded to the real estate company’s server and the dedicated URL given to prospective clients. Of course not everyone in every corner of the world is going to have the requisite VR headset to view this type of content and so each visitor is given the option of taking the standard AR tour described above or to view the true interactive VR tour using their Oculus Rift or other VR headset.

 

  • Unprecedented Interactivity – The level of interactivity possible with true VR is mind blowing. The client can proceed with the tour at their own pace concentrating on the things that interest them the most and “moving” back and forth, left and right within the virtual space. Hot spots can be created within the virtual environment that appear in the client’s field of vision. Using their VR controls they can access the information available at these hotspots. The info can contain wallpaper options, flooring options, upholstery options and much more. With true VR there are no distractions, no extraneous visual clutter to block out. The client feels as though they are in the room and they’re able to navigate as if they are.

The Benefits

  • For the Real Estate Company – The benefits of VR are enormous and include the aforementioned ability to drastically reduce the number of site visits that need to be made as well as the ability to showcase properties to potential clients all over the world. Your client from Dubai will be able to get a feel for what it’s like to actually walk through the property at their own pace taking their own route. It’s like bringing the model home or condo unit to the client instead of having to have the client come to the model home. That also means of course that developers may no longer even need to build model homes or condo units. Instead they’ll simply direct potential clients to the web page where they can access the VR tour. The potential savings are enormous.

 

  • For the Client – Clients stand to gain just as much or more than the real estate companies as they’ll be able to take hyper-realistic, virtual tours of an unlimited number of properties worldwide while sitting at their kitchen table wearing their VR headset. No more time and money spent doing the open house shuffle. No more wondering what the floor might look like if you ripped up the tiles and installed hardwood. It’s all right there at your beck and call through the VR software.

 

Virtual reality is taking the world by storm and is set to revolutionize how people buy and sell real estate. Whether you’re a buyer, a seller or an agent you stand to benefit from the VR revolution.

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