Evgeny Zlotin

VIRTUAL REALITY IS ABOUT TO REVOLUTIONISE THE PROPERTY MARKET

Virtual reality has been a hot topic over the last few years. The release of consumer versions of VR headsets by Oculus, HTC and Microsoft, the appearance of 3D mapping technologies, as well as the use of complex VR gaming visualisations in business, caused a real breakthrough in different industries. Businesses began implementing virtual reality to attract more customers and to deliver high-end service.

The year 2016 was critical. It showed the potential of the technology and the first high-quality VR solutions appeared. Virtual reality used to be associated only with games, but now it emerged as a powerful business solution.

Real estate business is no exception. The emergence of VR technology has opened new possibilities for showing residential & commercial properties, event spaces around the city or even a yacht in another country. The client can view all of these properties without even getting up from his couch.

When searching for a property, clients usually have to visit dozens of properties before making the final decision. And these visits result in dozens of wasted working hours for the real estate agent. If you work in this industry you’ve probably faced this problem before. But you take these unnecessary showings as part of everyday routine without even dreaming of a better solution.

But this solution has finally come with virtual reality tours, which are becoming extremely popular right now.

Virtual reality tours

Today a prospective client can explore properties by going online on his laptop or wearing a head-mounted display. It is now easier than ever to take a virtual walk through the property in true perspective and high definition to effectively judge size, space and dimension. He can turn his attention to any essential details and take as much time as needed to experience the feel of the house. This is a much more descriptive and efficient way of demonstrating the property than photos in online listings!

The prospective buyer can check several apartments and choose only the best ones to visit in person. This technology saves tons of time for the client giving him unforgettable emotions at the same time. The agencies also benefit from these virtual tours, as they gain an impressive competitive advantage by providing an innovative tool to show listings and dramatically save time.

The tours attract new audiences and agents can spend more time helping customers as they do not have to move around the city showing properties that much. After succeeding in finding a home through such an innovative approach and in a minimum amount of time, satisfied customers would be eager to recommend the real estate agency to others.

81% of property professionals believe that virtual reality will change how developments are planned, marketed and leased in the next 10 years.

- Nabarro, 2016

For the moment, there are two approaches to the production of VR tours for real estate items. They differ not only in the technology used but also in their capabilities, levels of detail and interactivity, as well as development times and costs.

VR versions of real-world spaces

There are a few relatively inexpensive 3D indoor mapping technologies for existing properties. Such a VR tour production requires a 3D depth-sensing camera with an infrared transmitter and sensor, and a bit of time to montage the tour.

Everything starts with a detailed scanning of the property. Every room, every corner and even every decor element, should be captured properly, giving a highly detailed visualisation of the apartment. This material is then converted into a VR format for the headset and 3D Model Showcase web player. The whole process may take only a couple of days.

The most known and used technologies for turning real-world spaces into immersive virtual experiences are developed by the companies Matterport and Occipital. Hundreds of companies around the world use their cameras and software to produce VR tours for real estate agencies and property owners.

Virtual showings for property under construction

As is well-known, selling a property that is under construction is a big challenge for real estate agencies and developers. No one wants to buy a pig in a poke. Therefore, virtual reality has become a great assistant in showing properties that haven’t been built yet.

This kind of VR tour is completely different from the previous one. It is impossible to scan the property. The 3D rendering of the apartment is created with Unity game engine or Unreal Engine 4 – powerful tools that are also involved in game development.

The 3D model is built from scratch and is highly customizable. The quality and accuracy are much higher than in the Matterport tours and require meticulous and precise work. Moreover, the project may even include interactive elements, such as a “live” fire in the fireplace, running water in the shower or birds flying past the window. Therefore, the development time of such an immersive walk-through tour may take up to three months, depending on the size and the complexity of the property. Consequently, the price for such a VR model of the apartment is significantly higher than that of the Matterport, but the money is definitely worth spending.

The tour itself is a completely new immersive experience for the user. He is able to walk in his future apartment as if it were already there. This VR tour doesn’t only allow to show what the property will look like, but also to interact with it – walk out onto the balcony and enjoy the real 360-degree view, turn on the lights in the room, turn on the water in the shower or the radio in the living room.

There’s also the possibility to see how the apartment would look like at any time of the day (sunrise, sunset, night) and even change the finishing of the surfaces or texture and colour of the furniture. So, designers don't have to remake the tour with a different design for every client. It is fully customisable. All within one virtual reality experience.

JuJu IMSV, VR studio of JuJu Media, has vast experience in creating virtual reality tours for luxury properties. By achieving extreme photorealistic image quality and adding interactive elements, such tours can make the user get lost in the space and want to walk around it for hours.

Such software is the perfect tool for selling the property that is not ready yet. A VR tour of an existing property allows to travel in space and virtually visit different locations from the client’s home or the real estate agent’s office. Whereas this kind of VR tour enables customers to travel in time. They can teleport to the future and see what their home will look like when finished. Such an experience elicits a much stronger emotional response from the prospective buyer, which is great for sales.

Conclusion

As can be seen, virtual reality is starting to solve the eternal problems of the real estate market. It has a clear advantage for the client, as he doesn’t have to move around the city or to travel abroad to explore the property he is interested in. VR allows to envision the property that hasn't even broken ground yet, as well as feel its true dimensions and space. This could never be achieved through photos or videos.

Real estate businesses and developers also benefit greatly from this new technology. As VR tours can be viewed from anywhere in the world, they can allow agencies to expand geographically.

According to Property Week, virtual reality software allows to reduce the number of unnecessary property showings by 40%, saving time for the agent, as well as the client.

What is more, a VR teleportation to an incredible new reality elicits a powerful emotional response in clients. This wow effect can undoubtedly be considered as the best advertisement for the real estate business.

Virtual reality is only starting to conquer the market of real estate. You can still be among the innovators, taking their first steps into the VR-related future. Contact us today to get a free quote for your real estate VR project!

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