Imagine exploring any building interior from the comfort of your own home. You could stroll through that New York apartment you want to rent, swipe through some interior designs and suddenly all dots connect: This is the place for you.
Is Virtual Reality science fiction?
The virtual reality buzz has certainly arrived. But is VR in real estate just a fad or here to stay?
There are two reasons that make us believe in VR as a technology with major potential to change the real estate industry. Firstly many early enthusiasts are already flying through virtual worlds with their Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The experience is already today considered a huge leap in technology, sometimes compared to the step from radio to TV. Secondly, about 90% of our time is spent indoors.
Visualisation technologies in the real estate industry
Visualising property using 2D floor plans has been a standard for centuries. The largest revolution in this field was enabled by the computer. In fact, real estate was among the first branches to go digital after Ivan Sutherland introduced an ancestor of today’s CAD software in the early 1960’s. When computational power exploded in the 90’s real estate entered the 3rd dimension with 3D floor plans and renders.
Is this really the great step forward it at first seemed to be? If you think about it, the goal of visualisation in real estate should not be to display something on a screen. The people that have to be impressed by these visualisations want to actually experience the space itself. To approach this, real estate actors use a patchwork of technologies, however all these technologies have limitations.
Floor plans can be hard to read. Pictures can only be taken of existing places. 3D renders can be perceived deceitful, as explained in an article in Archdaily. And in photographic virtual tours you can still not edit your furnitures or the architecture as you would like. Interactive 3D models like the ones we make at Archilogic are the best option so far, but without VR, the action is still happening on a flat screen.
Virtual Reality technology will be a turning point for the real estate industry. A VR experience in an interactive 3D model is as close as you can get to actually being there. It is the technology that can fully replace the current awkward patchwork of approximators. When seen in this light it is nearly silly that some real estate professionals still see VR as a threat to their business.
A lasting trend in tech?
While some real estate players may consider virtual reality a fad, there are a number of factors that will make it a game changing technology for the industry.
- Availability of the technology: VR tech is becoming cheaper and more readily available. With a smartphone and Google Cardboard, it’s possible for almost anyone to have a virtual-reality tour experience.
- Ease of creation: At Archilogic, interactive 3D models can be created with a single floor plan. While it used to take complex CAD drawings weeks of production time, we broke it down to a minimum input of a pixel plan (pdf, jpg, png, …) and reduced the delivery time to 24h.
- Showcasing the future: VR tours can make sales easier especially in new construction projects in renovations. It’s difficult for people to visualise a floor plan or project themselves in the showroom. Virtual-reality experiences can bridge that gap and make sales in the process.
- Globalisation in real estate: The world is getting smaller and real estate actors are planning, building and investing all over the globe. Having the ability to tour a new construction project on the other side of the world is a valuable tool for all stakeholders.
In our opinion, VR is much more than a fad. It shows promises of being a lasting trend in real estate.