Could Virtual Reality Be The Future Of Real Estate Sales?


For the past few years, the technology industry has been buzzing about the imminent consumer release of Oculus Rift, a new virtual reality headset that allows users to enter virtual worlds. In 2012, Oculus VR, the company behind Oculus Rift, began releasing developer kits to allow developers ample time to create innovative applications for the product before its release. Applications developed thus far range from medical testing to games – but more exciting to me is the potential for real estate. 89% of homebuyers say that virtual tours are either very or somewhat useful, so it stands to reason that they would find tremendous value in virtual reality tours that could take standard web tours to the next level.

One company already employing these types of tours is Arch Virtual, who has been working with Chicago-based Panoptic Group to create virtual reality experiences for all of their upcoming development projects. This allows investors, and homebuyers, the opportunity to explore their forthcoming living and/or office using the Oculus Rift headset. When watching the video version of their latest project, we can see full scale, rendered examples of how a homebuyer can see fixtures, furnishings and finishes in the unit.

Potential homebuyers of the (not so distant) future could visit sales offices, and be escorted to an Oculus Rift station where they can explore home designs, and sample features. They could be updated in real-time, allowing them to sample everything from flooring to cabinet colours on the fly. To take it a step further, the sales office itself could be an exclusive downloadable application allowing Oculus Rift users to attend openings virtually, should they have the hardware. This could potentially eliminate the need to construct physical home models, which would present a significant savings to builders. The possibilities are endless.

Statistics show homebuyers who used virtual tours as a significant portion of their home-buying experience spent an average of two weeks with a realtor looking at homes, compared to those who didn’t – they spent an average of seven weeks looking for their homes. It seems like this type of technology has incredible potential, so it’ll be exciting to see how it grows.

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