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Virtual Reality In Real Estate

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In our posts, we frequently discuss technology that is impacting our industry. A few weeks back we looked at the interesting possibilities that blockchain technology could bring to our industry. While blockchain technology is still years, if not a decade or more away, there is one new consumer focused technology that is rapidly becoming a must-have for those of us selling real estate. That is virtual reality (VR).

Two decades ago, the wide spread adoption of the internet revolutionized both the way Realtors marketed properties and how the homebuying public shopped for homes. Online listings packed with photos made it easy for prospective buyers to view multiple properties in multiple towns right from their personal computer. Virtual reality holds an even greater potential to revolutionize the home buying process and is a technology that will gain wide-spread acceptance in a much quicker time frame. With a market that is already accustom to digital media, it is a much shorter jump to virtual reality than the move two decades ago from print media to the internet. Additionally, with the cost of the technology for the end user declining, it is easily affordable to a prospective homebuyer. While firms like Oculus and Vive are selling high-end VR headsets in the $600-$800 range, there are many lower priced models. Samsung offers models for $100 and cardboard sets for smart phones can often be found for a nominal fee.

Today, use of virtual reality in the real estate market is most commonly rendered in one of two ways. The more popular method, and less expensive, is through the use of software that stitches together photos or videos of the subject property. While this approach does allow the prospective buyer to “walk through” the property, it is limited to the point of view of the camera and does not provide a full 360-degree view. The second method shoots the property using a 360-degree camera. While a costlier option, use of a 360-degree camera will render a true three-dimensional image that allow users to move around within the space and view rooms from every conceivable angle. This method is currently more popular with higher-end properties, but, like the headsets, as the cost declines the 360-degree view will become more popular in marketing a much wider range of property.

Several firms are already working at expanding virtual reality into the world of augmented reality (AR). Through augment reality technology, end users will have the ability to change or customize the property within the virtual reality environment. Homebuyers will no longer have to imagine how a property will look after they add their personal touches. With augmented reality, they can paint rooms in their favorite colors, changing floor treatments or including furniture to the virtual reality image. Homebuyer will know, even before physically view a property, what changes are needed to alter the property to meet their personal tastes. And AR is not limited to just interior virtual reality. Landscaping can be added to the property and in several cases augment reality has been used to sell homes and apartments that have not been built yet or are in the early stages of construction.

It will be interesting to watch the growth in virtual and augmented reality technology. Yet, regardless of the direction the technology takes, it is certain to be a technology that will play a key role in the sale and marketing strategies of properties across the country.

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