Is VR the next step in real estate technology?

November 7, 2016

Real estate professionals are always looking for an edge when it comes to facilitating sales. That often includes using the latest technology to show off all of a property's features. Now, a relatively new offering might allow would-be buyers to go to multiple open houses in a matter of minutes.

Some real estate pros are now using virtual reality as a means of showing off their listings, allowing people to get a real feel for a home without ever setting foot inside it, according to Cronkite News. All hopeful buyers would have to do to get the grand tour is put on a VR headset while they sit in a real estate agent's office or even at home. This technology can help shoppers make decisions that save them time and potentially money throughout the home search process.

"You're talking about literally taking homes and creating an atmosphere where people can tour them comfortably on a headset from home," Daniel McCarthy, the CEO of a real estate company, told the news organization. "You can definitely eliminate homes from your home search easily and save yourself a lot of time."

McCarthy added the technology will likely lead to a sea change in the real estate industry as a whole because VR helps people get a better sense of a home long before they visit it in real life.

How does it work?
There are a number of companies that can make real-world spaces into 3-D virtual environments with ease, thanks to affordable high-quality cameras and rigs designed specifically for VR filming, according to The Primacy. That footage is then loaded into a VR program, which creates the virtual environment. Best of all, there's no expensive headset technology to buy; instead, most VR programs work with a smartphone inserted into cardboard or plastic goggle-like headwear. It used to be such setups would cost tens of thousands of dollars, but now that price range is several hundred dollars, offering significant return on investment for agents.

Making a splash
Already, many industry experts say they think VR is going to take off in real estate sales in short order. While there isn't a significant market penetration for VR's use quite yet, many think that day is coming sooner than later. In general, experts say the ability to travel through a home virtually, with the ability to linger on certain details that might not show up in standard videos or photos, can be extremely immersive. That capability, in turn, can facilitate more real estate sales.

Today, about 2 in 3 Americans say they don't really know much about the technology, and many don't think the opportunity available to them is all that intriguing, according to Horizon Media. Anecdotally, however, many first-time VR users say they find the experience exciting.

As a consequence, agents who move to take advantage of the relatively small amount of VR use in their industry might be able to get that kind of engagement with would-be buyers, providing additional convenience to all involved in the sales process.