Technology in Real Estate
Real estate is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and technology is helping its growth rate. In 2017, more than $5bn was invested in real estate technology (Forbes). This significant increase in investment was majorly driven by the use of technology in the industry, allowing apps like Airbnb to compete with some of the largest and most established real-estate companies and hotels. Now, the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is also helping improve an average homeowners experience.
Augmented Reality in Real Estate
The advantage of using AR is that information that is traditionally visualized in 2D can now be depicted in 3D for any user with a fair amount of intractability.
The first area AR can help in is finding actual listings for real-estate properties. Commercial Real Estate built an app that allows users to overlay listings for properties onto their camera, so they can see which properties are available in a crowded area such as downtown quite easily
Another use case is to allow home builders to place and navigate through 3D models of houses. Users can find a potential place to build a house and overlay the 3D model of the house in that location to see how it would look. Then, the house can be increased in size, and the user can walk through it to see how it would look like from the inside.
A third use is for current homeowners who are looking to see how they can modify their house. The IKEA place app allows people to place 3D models of furniture in their house and scale it to their liking. This will allow them to see how furniture looks before they purchase it.
Overall, while AR is still in its infancy, the AR market is expected to increase to $100bn by 2021, providing it will have a large impact in the real estate industry (PropertyMe).
Virtual Reality in Real Estate
Normally, real estate agents provide a lengthy list of properties to the client. Afterward come explanations, negotiations, and finally the real-life visits to houses and apartments. This workflow has remained the same for decades, but it's inconvenient and time-consuming not only for realtors but for homebuyers as well.
VR is a game changer in this industry. The power of VR technology can help real estate agents grow their business, get more clients, and deliver top-level services. It's particularly important to adopt this new technology today when 95% of clients search for properties on the internet (RubyGarage).
The first way VR can be used is for a virtual property showcase. There are guided visits using 360 cameras where the user can walk through a set tour of the house and look around using a VR headset. There are also interactive tours where a model of the house is uploaded in VR and the user can walk wherever they would like to and see any parts of the house. This is a new and efficient way to show properties.
The next case would be to help with virtual staging. Most new properties have little to no furniture, and renting furniture to stage can be quite expensive, and often does not appeal to everyone. Virtual staging allows an empty house to look appealing as virtual models of furniture are staged into the house, providing a full experience of a furnished house. Not only is this significantly faster and cheaper, it also adds a touch of personalization to the house.
VR can also be used for Architectural Visualization. Marketing a property that isn’t constructed yet has always been a challenge for real estate developers and agents. Most companies build large 3D models of the property, but it is often tough to gauge how it will look when it is build. For the interiors, real estate agents create large showrooms with full-scale models of apartments. Needless to say, these marketing methods require considerable investment. Virtual reality can effectively solve this problem and allow potential homebuyers to carefully check out both the exterior and interior of future properties.
Thanks to VR, architectural visualization has become much cheaper and a lot more immersive. Real estate agents can use VR technology to show both the exterior and interior of properties that aren’t built yet so that clients can get a clear look at what’s being offered.
VR and AR also provide the opportunity to up and cross sell.
For example, let’s say a homebuyer is taking a 3D real estate tour but wants to make changes to the interior. They could go to an online store, choose a different piece of furniture, and add it to their three-dimensional tour. By making these changes, they can style a property according to their preferences.
Moreover, even if clients make no changes to the interior of a property, they might be interested in buying pieces of furniture, curtains, and other items that are showcased in the virtual tour. In this case, they can immediately visit a virtual store and order them.
Most people who buy homes like to look at multiple properties and are usually busy with other items as well. AR and VR saves time for both clients and realtors. Thanks to them, there’s no need to travel from one property to another and sit in traffic jams. Instead, clients can simply put on headsets or devices and enjoy immersive tours of the house. For real estate managers, they do not need to physically be at the property any more. They can work from their office where clients come in to view multiple properties virtually.
Builds Personal Connections
Virtual tours of houses and apartments help your clients visualize each property. Traditional tours often have other buyers and generic furniture, making it difficult to emotionally see yourself in the house. AR and VR allow the house to be completely customized from inside and out and seen from all angles, ensuring the buyer is connected to the product.
Developing feature-rich 3D virtual tours may seem expensive but think of the investment in traditional real estate marketing. Not only do agents need to stage properties, they also need to provide photos of the property and a lot of print material like brochures and posters.
VR/AR technology has already started to transform the real estate industry. However, it has not been adopted by majority of companies yet. More real estate companies are likely to use the benefits of VR/AR to make their work more efficient in the near future.
The simplest forms of virtual home tours are accessible to any realtor. As for more immersive and sophisticated AR experiences, there are lots of companies that can help real estate agents create them. These technologies will play a large part in the future of the industry, and it is best to invest in them now.
Business Analyst, App-Scoop