Use of Virtual Reality in a Real Estate Business
If you have ever been involved in the real estate process, whether it was on the end of purchasing a lovely property, or on the selling end, you know that the process involved is lengthy, time-consuming, and can be extremely inconvenient for both realtors and homebuyers. Despite the fact that there have been improvements in technology over the last few decades, very few of these have had an impact on the workflow process of real estate agents. As it was years ago, agents still provide a long list of properties to clients, provide negotiation details, and hold open-houses to have clients assess the property they are going to potentially put an offer into. One way that a real estate business can speed up this process is by adopting virtual reality technology, as it can help expand your business, capture new leads, and deliver high-end services to clients.
How Would You Integrate VR into Your Real Estate Business?
While the first thing you might think of when you envision virtual reality, are the headsets used to play virtual reality video games like the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive, the technology can also be applied to the real estate business in a variety of ways.
- Use It to Solve Issues With Property Showcasing. When a client is hunting for their perfect home, they are going to visit multiple properties before deciding on which one they want to put an offer into. This requires a lot of time in both research, travel time, and the actual time needed to go through the property showcase. When a home is far away from the client, this time-consuming process is exacerbated and may come with a high price tag for the client. VR technology can fix these problems by allowing the client to place a VR headset on and experience a three-dimensional walkthrough of the properties they are interested in. In just a few minutes, a client can walkthrough dozens of properties without the need to physically travel. This type of VR service is often called a 3D virtual tour and there are two types.
- A VR guided visit will provide the client with either a fully virtual visit or with a 360-degree video of the property. For existing properties, guided visits work well as you simply need a panoramic camera to capture a 360-degree view of the property via video capture.
- An interactive Experience allows the client to choose where they want to move within the property by using provided hotspots. These hotspots allow you to change the field of view, creating an extremely immersive experience. While an interactive visit is more complicated to create than a guided visit, it is a more efficient method of showing off the entire property from unique viewpoints.
- Include Virtual Property Within a Home to Sell it Easier. A major issue that realtors have with homes that have already been vacated by their current owners, is that they are completely empty or have very few pieces of furniture in them. A property that has furniture within it, is always going to sell better than one that is empty, because it allows the potential buyer to envision themselves living within the home. According to the National Association of Realtors, staging helps buyers associate the property as their future home. VR technology helps in this area as it allows realtors to stage the home without a massive investment into physical furniture, and therefore, cuts down the costs of marketing the home and gets it on the market faster.
- It Aids in Marketing Properties That Are Not Built Yet. An extremely common challenge that realtors need to get around is marketing a property that is in pre-construction. Just having up a three-dimensional block doesn’t lend much to the imagination and creating full-scale models of how an apartment or condominium is going to look is a considerable investment of both time and monetary capital. So, realtors can use virtual reality technology instead, to help envision how these properties will look both on the inside and out. This doesn’t take as much investment on the realtor’s part and it still provides a clear vision of what is being offered to potential homebuyers.
- It Removes Unnecessary Communication in Short-Term Rentals. One of the more common scenarios one finds between landlords and tenants is the need for constant communication about simple tasks. For instance, clients will often call asking about certain items within the property, like how to use the thermostat, where the fuse box is, or how to access a specific switch. For those who offer short-term rentals, this constant communication can be draining on the landlord and it can take away from other business if they are always stuck on the phone with tenants. One way to fix this is by using virtual reality to communicate these smaller situations via a 3D virtual tour. How?
- A 3D virtual tour (a way to give virtual instructions) can help a tenant understand how the utilities work, where certain items are within the property, such as the furnace, water heater, fuse box, or laundry room. While this technology may not be as applicable to all types of rentals, it works well in short-term vacation rentals that have high turnover rates.
- Homebuyers Can Tailor the Interior of the Property. Virtual reality technology has the capability to open up an entire virtual commerce industry as potential homebuyers will be able to make changes to what they see when visiting properties. For instance, if a potential homebuyer is on a virtual tour of a property and they like the property overall but would prefer a different wall color or another pattern for their curtains, they could easily change the style during the three-dimensional tour. This could be done via an online store that provides different pieces of furniture, curtains, and other interior materials which be purchasable.
What Benefits Does VR Offer the Real Estate Industry?
While the above 5 inventive ways to use virtual reality in your real estate business are practical and beneficial for both homebuyers and real estate agents, there are other worthwhile benefits that virtual reality can bring to the real estate industry that are worth considering.
- VR Saves Time. The biggest benefit that virtual reality brings to the industry is the time that it saves on the part of both the client and the realtor. With this type of technology, there is no need for the client to travel to the property to view it and no need to spend money on travel expenses, just to say no to a property you end up disliking. While clients may not own a VR headset themselves, a realtor can provide an in-office virtual tour appointment, which allows the client to travel a much shorter distance to view a larger number of properties in a shorter amount of time. Those that do have VR headsets, don’t even have to do this much, as they can view the properties from their own home.In addition to this, homebuyers can also visit listed properties at any time, whether this be at 3:00pm or at 11:00pm. There’s no need to visit potential properties during realtor business hours, as realtors don’t need to help you in viewing the listed properties (for those who own VR devices).
- It Helps Build Emotional Connections Between Buyers & Property. A virtual reality tour allows the clients to take their time viewing the property, as there is no need to hurry through, as most feel inclined to do during in-person visits. Instead, you can take the time to focus on the details of the property, become immersed in the space that it offers, and bond with the space. When you view a property in 3D, you are better able to imagine it as your own, giving you more reason to engage with it and view it as yours.
- VR APP Offers a Global Reach. The reason why realtors tend to work with a small number of clients is because it is extremely time-consuming to complete all of the tasks associated with home showing and the purchase process. A realtor is going to have to arrange visits, negotiate terms and pricing, and show off properties. Virtual reality technology opens up a realtor’s schedule by allowing them to more productively with clients. Clients can view properties via virtual reality devices regardless of where clients live, and long-distance buyers can view properties that are hundreds of miles away. This means a larger reach for the realtor while minimizing the time-consuming task of showing off properties.
- It Helps Save a Lot of Money. When a realtor needs to stage a home for sale, they need to invest in both the high-end furniture and the high-quality materials needed for specific print materials (think photographs). Virtual reality helps with this by using virtual video and computer graphics to render a gorgeous and virtually staged home.
- An Enhanced Customer Experience Brings a Sense of Ownership. One of the most challenging parts about being a realtor is the fact that you must close out the agreement which involves nudging the buyer to sign a rental agreement or purchase the home. Virtual reality can aid in this endeavor by encouraging potential homebuyers to stay within the home for as long as they want, thus enabling them to foster a sense of personal connection to the property. This goes a step further in that realtors can provide a virtual tour with extra add-ons like neighbourhood descriptions and mortgage information which will help aid the homebuyer in reaching out about homes that fit their preference.
While you can currently enjoy 360-degree virtual tours of homes, virtual reality apps is set to completely transform the real estate industry, bringing clients and potential homebuyers right into the home itself without the need for expensive travel or constant communication with the landlord or realtor. Clients will be able to change up how the interior of a home looks with virtual commerce, visit properties for as long as they like to make better informed decisions, and realtor’s will enjoy more productivity and further client reach. VR is set to bring a more sophisticated way of shopping for homes and the immersive experience that comes with it, is sure to be a welcome change.