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Utilising virtual reality to sell property

By Mike Read
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Virtual reality is still a relatively new concept in Estate Agency and we're proud to be ahead of the curve. Once upon a time virtual reality headset were used for fishing games and virtual tight-rope walking, but they can now be utilised to showcase beautiful homes all over the world and even homes that haven't been built yet.

What is it?
Virtual reality is immersing yourself in an interactive 360 world, in the case of estate agency, immersing yourself inside a property. I'm sure you've seen the click through tours online, imagine being shrunk down to size and being able to walk around one of those virtual tours, being able to fully appreciate the space, natural light and finish. Or even going as far as walking around a new build property, before it's even built.

What are the benefits?
  • The eyes
It's statiscally proven, that 3D virtual tours and virtual reality increase the number of potential buyers that click a property listing online, the greater number of viewings, the more offers and the greater end value acheived for the sale of a property. With New Build properties, imagine being able to walk around the property before it's even built? Would that help in your decision making, rather than staring at floorplans and the odd CGI photo?
  • The feeling
Here's one for the physcology majors to explain... Ever gone to view a property and you knew it's the right one for you, even when you'd only just gone through the front door? That's the feeling... Well, it's a bit more complex than that and the physcology behind it is genuinely fascinating. To be brief, on average absorbing visual information, everything from the natural light to the space on offer, and making a decision takes 7 seconds. So, within just 7 seconds of walking into each room a buyer will know if they'd like to buy your house. It's that quick. Wether they want to tell you they want to buy the house, or go and consider for a while is a different discussion. Click through tours, videos and photos provide you with great visual information, but virtual reality provides that feeling.
  • The hassle
An obvious one. Preparing your home for a viewing can be extensive. Cut out the time wasters by having them view your home virtually in the office. Let's not forget that it's a much safer alternative in the current pandemic.
  • The reach
Showcase your home anywhere in the world and particularly tapping into the lucrative London market.

Are you a developer?
Save money, time and hassle by using virtual reality. Providing on-site sales office's can be costly and, what do you do with all the furniture, computers etc. after it's complete? How much is spent on furnishing's for show flats/houses? Having a local agent, with the ability to build and utilise virtual reality is a superior alternative. It's also the safer option. Have your properties marketed earlier online, with reservations coming into place long before the build is complete, so that as soon as you reach practical completion, you have your money and can move onto the next one. We've got a great example below.

Is it a gimmick?
5 years ago, before having real experience with virtual reality I would've told you yes. In fact I reckon there are plenty of people out there that would still see it that way. It's not a gimmick, not at all. Here's one small example. In the middle of 2021, Slades were instructed jointly as the selling agent for a new build site of 46 apartments. We worked closely with the developers to provide potential purchasers a CGI virtual viewing experience of the apartments, using the Occulus Rift Headset. Within 2 weeks of listing onto Rightmove, all the apartments had been reserved and we had reserved over double our counterpart agent. Every single purchaser stated that the virtual reality headset provided the information and confidence they needed to put down a deposit.

How does it work?
In order for us to explain this propertly, we need to break this down into two sections; exisiting properties and new builds.

Existing properties
First things first, we need to create a digital twin. A digital twin is created by two core steps; measurement and visuals. Measurements are taken in the same way that a laser measuring device works. The device emits a 360 degree pulse of laser and the time necessary for the laser beam to get to the object and go back determines the measurement of the distance. Visuals are created with a 360 camera capturing multiple images. Imagine standing in the centre of a room with a camera in your hand, taking photos as you spin around. Then, either in camera or in post production, a piece of software stitches all the photos together. Simple.

New Builds
This is an interesting one. How can I showcase a property using virtual reality if it's not even been build yet? Well the answer is... it needs to be built. However, rather than using bricks and mortar, we use pixels and programs. The property is modelled to scale in 3D, one layer at a time, like using virtual Lego. Light effects, shading and finishes are then added to make the virtual space come alive. 

After either the digital twin or 3D virtual space have been created, the project is cast to the virtual reality headset and the viewing can commence.

What does the future hold?
Well, there are more than 171 million VR users worldwide. With internet speed increasing, hardware becoming cheaper and technology evolving, this is set to be one of the fastest growing industries of all time. In fact, predictions are made that the trio of artificial intelligence, artificial reality and virtual reality will be the fastest growing industry of all time. Ever. 

Specifically within the property circle huge advances are being made. From being able to build cities, to mapping real time traffic through a large scale development, the possibilites are endless. There are already 3D treadmills in production that will allow you to walk around a virtual space, up sets of stairs, even up a sloping gardens with the true incline virtually. 

My predicitions however are slightly more ambitious. Property used to be advertised in newspapers until the internet came along. Then the majority of purchasers found a property using a computer or laptop. Now the majority use a smart phone or tablet. Maybe one day potential purchaser's will use a sleek and intuitve version of virtual reality (not like the chunky headset's we see today) and will browse Rightmove with the ability to walk inside each listed property.

If you'd like to know more about the use of virtual reality to sell property or are a developer curious to the benefits, please contact me below and I'd be happy to explain.

Mike Read
01202 488988

All statistics and information are factually correct from the written date of 10/12/2021. Evidence of supporting documents can be provided on request.


About the Author...

Mike started out at our Highcliffe Office before moving to Christchurch where he heads up our Fine & Country Office.
Read about Mike