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If you’re a real estate agent, you already know the frustration of using showrooms to sell properties. You end up spending tons of time and money creating those showrooms so potential buyers can see what it might be like living there. And it’s a huge hassle. But what if you never had to create a showroom at all and your sales improved as a result? Sounds crazy, but it’s not. Welcome to virtual reality, a technology that’s about to completely change the way you sell real estate.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (or VR) is an immersive, interactive experience that you might think exists only in the realm of science fiction. If that’s the case, you’ll be surprised to learn that nearly $4 billion has been invested over the past few years to make this technology a reality. Think about video games – they exist as artificial worlds where you can control a character that moves around inside of them. But instead of holding a controller and staring at a TV screen, VR allows you to be the character inside the world. Pretty awesome, right? You’re not the only one who thinks so. Many companies have begun trying their hands at VR technology, including Google and Facebook. Right now, you can spend $20 and receive your own headset from Google. All you need is a smartphone, and with the Google Cardboard headset (made completely out of — you guessed it — cardboard), you can take virtual tours of cities and tourist destinations around the world. Other companies are creating new ways for users to move around in the virtual world. Virtuix Omni, for instance, has created a “grooved, friction-free, plastic crater” for users to stand in that allows them to (with a special pair of shoes) walk around in the world without ever moving from the ring. But beyond 360-degree, full-scale replica tours of old monuments or playing interactive games, there are countless other opportunities for this emerging technology – some that may forever alter the way you do business.
Bringing Two Worlds Together
That’s right – virtual reality is coming to real estate. That means the sights and sounds of a real-life showroom will be accessible to anyone who has the hardware to experience the virtual world. And soon enough, that hardware will be in just about everyone’s hands. Don’t believe me? According to a report from BI Intelligence, the VR market is going to explode in 2016 and beyond. If you still aren’t quite convinced, think back to when technological advancements like smart phones and tablets seemed like they’d never catch on. Something tells me you’re reading this on one of those devices right now. And you can expect VR to become equally as popular in the near future. Soon, anyone with a VR device will be able to experience any property they want to buy long before they actually go purchase it. And who wouldn’t want to walk around in their new home before it’s even been built? VR is going to change the real estate game — that’s for sure. And it may just change the rest of the business world too. It’s already changing the way the rich and famous tour homes around the globe. For instance, Sotheby’s International Realty are using the Samsung Gear VR to sell high-end homes, taking 360-degree 3D scans using 10 GoPro cameras. “I can lead a VR tour remotely and even see where the client is looking,” said Matthew Hood of Sotheby’s, “which allows me to address things like a kitchen counter style while they’re looking at it – just as I would in a real tour.”
How Real Estate Agents Can Benefit from Virtual Reality
Using virtual reality will completely improve the way you sell real estate – and the way potential buyers interact with your properties. VR will provide buyers with more than just interactive floorplans to explore. Through the use of clever aerial drone photography, they’ll be able to look out windows of even the highest skyscrapers to see exactly what it would be like to live there. In Germany, real estate developers are trying to sell about 30 percent or more of the units in an apartment building before construction begins. This can be a huge challenge if buyers only have a 2-dimensional idea of what the apartment they’re investing in will look like. To address this problem, you’ve probably relied on luxury showrooms that display the most elegant form one of your apartments could take. This can be extra costly since the furniture, appliances, and décor will all need to be handled by professional service providers that can provide that perfect look. But with VR, you won’t need to worry about:
- Paying for a showroom to be built and maintained
- Waiting for buyers to schedule an appointment and driving through traffic to get there
- Hosting a tour yourself or hiring someone else to guide buyers through the showroom
- Sending each prospective buyer links to videos and pictures you’ve paid to have taken
- Creating detailed written descriptions of the properties themselves
Instead, all your prospective buyers have to do is put on an Oculus or Google Cardboard headset from anywhere in the world and take the tour themselves. The fully rendered 3-D environment provided by VR will allow them to get a sense of what it’s like to be inside their new apartment without ever actually stepping foot inside.
Virtual reality is only going to continue to improve and expand. And within a few decades, it’ll be everywhere because of the way it strips away the obstacles of the physical world, removing the limitations of time and space. Now that you know it’s coming to the world of real estate, consider becoming an early adopter. Because if you really want to start saving money, time, and energy, all you have to do is step into the world of virtual reality.