Real estate agents, professionals, and homebuyers have undoubtedly seen a rise in augmented and virtual reality solutions for real estate. Large companies like Zillow and Realtor have made it easy for agents to include 3D tours as part of the home buying experience (note that while this is not fully AR/VR, it’s not inconceivable that it will be in the future). Although AR/VR tech is a popular topic now due to COVID, most analysts and real estate pundits believe this tech is here to stay – buyers enjoy the flexibility and freedom of touring homes at their own pace. Virtual reality real estate solutions are a fast, easy way for people to get a sense of what a home is really like without traveling there to see it in person.
Whether you’re a real estate agent, broker, professional, or in the industry in some other capacity, you need to know what augmented reality and virtual reality can do and how it will help everyone sell and buy homes faster.
Virtual Reality for Real Estate: What You Need To Know
When prospective buyers are looking for a new home, they frequently tour many houses. Some buyers might search for homes they like on sites like Zillow. Others will ask for agent recommendations and go for those. No matter which path the buyer chooses, the result is the same. The buyer and the agent get in their cars, drive to the home, and walk through it.
Of course, as any homebuyer can tell you, walking through a home is a much different feeling than seeing pictures. Selling real estate agents can take photos at the perfect angle to hide any problems. However, when you walk through a home, you’ll see all the flaws. Sometimes, homes look entirely different than the photos on the web!
The problem with this method is that it is time-consuming. Would-be buyers need to drive to each home and visit it. If someone is living at home, the agent needs to work out a mutually-agreeable time when the prospective buyer can walk through the property.
It’s a slow and cumbersome process, but until recently, it’s been the only way.
Virtual Reality: Home Tours
To solve this problem, some smart engineers have made it possible to do virtual reality home tours. Experts predict exponential growth in the VR headset industry over the next few years. In 2020, estimates show that 5.5 million VR headsets will have shipped. Those estimates show that number exploding to 43.5 million in 2025, representing an 8x growth rate in just five years. Examples of popular VR headsets include the Oculus Quest and the HTC Vive. Even phones get in on the action with Google Cardboard and the Samsung Galaxy VR offering.
Virtual reality technology is conceptually quite simple. The VR headset contains two lenses that display what’s on the screen in front of them. The headset also tracks movement. So, when you’re looking down, the VR headset recognizes the tilt and registers the exact angle. Then, what gets rendered on the screens that you see changes.
The net effect is that you can look around as though you are in the 3D world. You feel like you’re right there as everywhere you look, what you see matches what it would be if it were real life.
Many people use these platforms for gaming. However, these virtual reality real estate solutions are particularly well-suited. Instead of needing to drive somewhere to look at a house, what if you could just put on a headset and feel like you’re inside? With virtual reality, you can!
What’s the Trend for Virtual Reality for Real Estate?
The trend for virtual reality in real estate was growing, albeit at a slow, steady pace. As you might expect, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated that growth exponentially. Before, VR technology was a “nice-to-have,” but by no means a requirement of doing business.
Now, people don’t feel safe going to an open house or going into someone else’s home. However, that doesn’t mean that people have stopped wanting to move! These real estate VR solutions let people browse homes safely. They can put on a headset and tour them at their own pace.
Instead of being a “nice-to-have,” buyers began demanding that real estate professionals start using this technology. In a concise amount of time, VR went from being a fun add-on to being an integral part of the real estate sales process.
How Will VR Influence the Industry?
Virtual reality will have a substantial impact on the real estate industry as a whole. Indeed, this technology has the potential to transform everything about this industry – from the way people shop for homes to how agents list them.
Consider the traditional real estate transaction. The seller wants to list their home. The owner typically gets their home staged, and then the selling agent comes over, takes some pictures, and posts them to various homebuying sources. Buyers and agents then search these homes and browse the images. If they like what they see, they’ll head on over and either go through an open house or schedule a time to come over and do a private walkthrough. Of course, if they like that, they’ll write an offer.
That’s, of course, the older way of doing things. With VR, the method changes. The seller still wants to list their home. Now, instead of staging, the real estate agent comes in and uses a virtual reality camera to capture the 3D video and image data necessary to create the immersive experience. With this data uploaded, the real estate agent could then, in theory, virtually stage the house (i.e., the software could have 3D models of furniture and put them inside the virtual home). The prospective buyer could then view the house using their VR headset at home or come into the real estate agent’s office and use their goggles. Depending on the software’s capabilities, the buyer might even replace the staged furniture with things that match their decor more closely.
It’s subtle, but notice how streamlined the process is with VR. There are no staging costs for the seller. Additionally, there are no travel times and costs for the buyer. It’s much faster, costs less, and is more efficient for all parties involved.
What Are Some VR Success Stories?
There have been a few poignant VR success stories over the years that highlight just how important this field is for the real estate sector.
One such success story is REX Homes. This innovative startup decided to commit to selling homes using virtual reality. This startup would send prospective buyers Google Cardboard goggles to experience the house as if they were there in person.
The result? On average, sellers have netted over $25,000 more than if they had gone the more traditional route. That’s not a small sum of money by any means.
Ultimately, VR technology is the future of the real estate industry. So far, buyers seem to be embracing it!
Augmented Reality for Real Estate: How Is It Different Than VR?
Now that you know what virtual reality for real estate is, it’s essential to consider VR’s sibling, augmented reality. Augmented reality has some of the same concepts as VR but has a slightly different approach.
With virtual reality, the goal is to provide an immersive experience. The computer or phone renders everything in the virtual world. There is nothing real in it. By contrast, as its name implies, augmented reality inserts 3D renderings into the real-world background. If you’ve ever used a shopping app that invites you to see how something would look in your space, that’s an augmented reality experience.
Augmented Reality and Real Estate: Why Is It a Growing Trend?
Augmented reality has two distinct advantages over VR for real estate applications.
The first is that AR works with any device! Because augmented reality uses real-world imagery as a backdrop, you don’t need any headsets or goggles. All you need is a phone. You can then load up the 3D model and view it within any real-world setting.
There’s another significant advantage, as well. Augmented reality is more “believable” than virtual reality. Since AR places a virtual 3D object in the “real” world, it makes visualizing things much easier in real estate. For example, consider the case of a client trying to stage their furniture in an open house. Instead of making them bring a tape measure and remember the dimensions of what they have, they can load an AR app on their phone. Using the phone’s camera, they can place virtual objects in the room to understand its looks. Since AR is very precise, would-be buyers can have confidence that their furniture will fit!
Ultimately, AR is a growing trend because of how useful it is. Augmented reality makes visualizing things much easier!
How Will AR Influence the Real Estate Industry?
Like VR, AR will have a profound influence on the real estate industry. If VR is the way for buyers to get a sense of what a home is like without driving there, AR is how buyers have confidence before putting in the offer.
Imagine, if you will, an ultra-futuristic real estate transaction. The buyer has just done their VR tour of the home and now wishes to see it in person. They go into the empty property and load up an AR app. This app has various furniture pieces loaded on it (sofas, bedding, etc.). The buyer walks through the home with their phone, virtually putting this furniture in the space. They go through the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, and so forth. In every room, they digitally place a combination of furniture they already own and some things they want.
Now, let’s suppose that augmented reality real estate app has a connection to some e-commerce sites. The buyer could put in their offer, and, once accepted, the app could send purchase requests to these e-commerce sites. Once the deal closes, the buyer can have the furniture shipped to their new home and set it up to look as they saw on their device in AR!
Virtual and Augmented Reality for Real Estate: They are Both Powerful Tools That Are Here To Stay
Both virtual reality and augmented reality are potent tools that are here to stay. Buyers and sellers love the ability to tour homes in 3D at their own pace or see how their furniture will look if they bought the house. Similarly, sellers love the fact that these tools cut down on staging costs and make listing homes simpler. Additionally, buyers love how easy it is to see new properties with VR/AR, and sellers love the fact that many people can see the properties at once. There’s no limit to how many people can put on their headset and see the property from the comfort of their home!
However, although this technology might stay here, that doesn’t make it any less daunting for real estate professionals. Fortunately, the professionals at ImpressIt are experts in virtual reality real estate and AR solutions. If you want to leverage futuristic technology to streamline the process of buying and selling a home, please consider reaching out to our friendly staff. We’d be more than happy to listen to your needs and work with you to develop a custom system that will undoubtedly make your life much more straightforward!