A survey by the National Real Estate Association (NAR) found that 95% of homebuyers look for real estate online. 51% of these buyers actually found their ideal homes this way.
It’s apparent that the real estate industry is changing fast. Factors like technological innovations and enhanced interconnectivity are having a huge impact on how buyers find properties and explore them.
In part, a lot of these changes are due to advancements in AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). Both technologies are helping real estate professionals save time and speed up the buying process.
To put this in perspective, here are some stats that show how VR and AR are disrupting businesses in general:
- By 2021, AR/VR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion market with VR at $25 billion and AR at $83 billion – Source
- Around 1.3 million people have subscribed to the YouTube 360 channel – Source
- 60% of US consumers agree that AR applications would improve how they do their jobs – Source
- Around a billion people in the world will have access to VR and AR content by 2020 – Source
With these stats in mind, let’s see how VR and AR are transforming the real estate industry.
Ask any agent about the time and resources it takes to show houses and they’ll paint an uninspiring picture. You have to walk potential buyers through every property in the hopes that they find “the one.” And not all showings are successful.
Now, imagine showing potential clients several properties without ever having to leave your office. It will save a considerable amount of time that you can use to focus on other business matters requiring your attention.
Lately, VR is making this a reality. It’s changing the game for agents by allowing potential buyers to take a tour of homes without having to rely on an agent to show them around.
Consider the current adoptions of the technology in the sale of commercial real estate. A real-world example of this is Manhattan Halstead Properties that created a virtual reality experience for buyers based on architectural plans. The company has 3D walkthroughs for around 30 listings, but plans to do the same with its entire inventory.
Property showings are effective in the sense that they allow buyers to review potential homes. However, it can be hard for these buyers to imagine what empty spaces will look like after they move in with their own furnishings. For example, you don’t know if a property’s patio is big enough for your patio furniture to fit in.
The guesswork could soon be over. Current advances in AR applications are giving buyers the chance to see homes with specific types of furnishings and make more informed decisions before they buy the property.
To illustrate, consider the AR/VR app, roOomy. With the help of an AR Google Tango camera, the app allows buyers to easily experience how certain interior design elements and home furnishings (like an IKEA sofa) would look like in different rooms in a property. Such applications have a huge potential of transforming how agents influence buying decisions.
PERSONALIZATION FOR PROPERTIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION
AR/VR technologies are great for home showings and virtual customizations of existing properties, but what about properties that haven’t been fully constructed yet?
Commercial investors sometimes buy under construction properties (like apartment complexes) in the hope that they will make a sizeable profit from them. Unfortunately, it can be hard to visualize what these investments will look like once they are completed.
Lately, 3D virtual experiences are enabling agents to provide customers with virtual walkthroughs in under construction properties. Take the example of Virtual Xperience. With the help of VR headsets, the technology uses 3D modeling to immerse users in virtual walkthroughs of under construction properties. It has everything users need to visualize how the incomplete spaces will look like.
CUTS TIME IN PROPERTY DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
In addition to property purchases, AR and VR technologies are also disrupting practices in property development.
Every project starts at the design phase. During this phase, there is a lot of data that builders and architects have to take into consideration. It can be anything from the height of the final product to its proximity to nearby buildings.
Unfortunately, acquiring this data can take more time than buyers are willing to invest. Depending on the scale, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for developers to sail through the design phase into the construction stage.
Recent innovations in augmented reality are providing solutions that help builders and engineers make development cycles more efficient. Here are a few examples that illustrate how:
MeasureKit: A property’s floor area sets the stage for other elements, like the position of internal walls, stairs, or corridors. So, a floor space should be measured accurately. The latest AR measurement tools, like the MeasureKit AR app from Apple, ensure this accuracy. To use the digital ruler app, users point their iPhone or iPad camera onto the object they would like to measure (like floor space), tap to start, and move around the space. The results of the measurement are displayed on the screen.
PLNAR: This AR app works like MeasureKit, but is specifically designed for real estate. Using Apple’s ARKit software, the PLNAR app allows users to measure any flat surface in a property from patios to floors and countertops. Developers can use it to save room plans, manage projects, and share project-related details in a PDF report with their teams.
With VR and AR, potential buyers can now size up potential real estate investments with nothing more than a headset or smartphone. Real estate agents who employ these technologies save the time and resources needed for them to walk prospects through the buyer journey. Additionally, innovations in virtual measuring tools are helping developers make property construction and design more efficient.
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