I’m looking to buy a house. Perhaps a condo. It all comes down to how well the property in question connects with me, how comfortable I feel setting down roots there. But house-hunting can be really tiresome.
I can’t really visualize a mini-me living in the miniature model the showrooms provide, and I can’t feel how the sun shines in my eyes, how the air kisses my skin as I step out my door. In short, I just can’t see how I can gauge my next few decades’ happiness of living based upon looking at a 1:300 scale plastic model for an hour.
But that’s about to change.
Immersive technologies that influence and remodel the way we look at the world are advancing and disrupting industries on a global scale. AR and VR technologies are terrific in creating highly interactive and authentically emotional experiences – something sorely needed in conducting a critical, highly expensive and life-changing transaction such as buying a house.
What are AR and VR?
Augmented Reality (AR) adds to the reality we see and enhances it.
Virtual Reality (VR) separates us from our physical reality, creating a new world to immerse in.
Mixed Reality (MR) represents the combination of both AR and VR in personalised intepretations of perception.
Embrace the future of experiential marketing today.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, a traditional prospective buyer normally goes through a long, complicated process to buy a home – and even after hours and hours of research and visits, might still not have a solid grasp of what their future home looks and feels like.
AR and VR should primarily serve to shorten the consumer’s buying journey, and help both buyer and seller navigate the process quickly and efficiently.
Here are some of the primary benefits that they bring:
- Cost Effectiveness
AR and VR render a lot of traditional marketing obsolete, along with many traditional costs. The costs of staging a property, costs of building models – the list goes on. Ultimately, you’re looking at vastly better ROI in the long run.
- Time Efficiency
By eliminating the need to travel or to organize specific schedules, you can save time on both buyer and seller’s ends. Think of it as heightened convenience – and in this age, convenience sells.
- Expanded Reach
When there’s no need for travel and no physical limitations on how many visitors you can stuff into your showrooms, you can have people from all over the world joining in the experience at any time of the day.
- Increased Interactivity
AR and VR provide possibilities for greater gamification, interaction, and personalisation. This means that visitors can not only have fun, but alter layouts and colour schemes to suit their tastes instantly.
- Data Analytics
A keystone of any AR or VR experience, data analytics means that information on engagement, user behaviour and preferences are collected for study and future improvement.
When it comes to the property market, AR and VR can be utilised in many different, and revolutionary ways.
Allsop and Allsop provide virtual 360° tours for buyers to get a real feel of the property.
Virtually Tour Your Future Home
Imagine the combination of a guided tour and a promotional video. All the interaction (and more!) of having a guide bring you around the property, and all the ease of watching a video from your home. This way, users get to experience large numbers of potential properties in a short amount of time, while easily accessing all the information they need instantly.
I mentioned the problem of not being able to visualise what my future home looks like – this is easily solved by using VR to show properties that aren’t actually built yet. Putting up a 3D-rendered interactive tour not only immerses the buyer in the experience, but also lets developers market their properties a lot sooner and more effectively.
On the backend, VR is seeing a lot of use in staff training. From site safety to maintenance procedures or practical training, virtual reality helps hone staff skills on a far quicker and more cost-efficient scale. Imagine a technician that has experienced ten different scenarios of maintenance in the time it would take to encounter one in real life. That’s pretty efficient.
DeAnda Photography gives a good look at how virtual staging can radically change a sterile showroom into a cosy environment.
Making it Feel like a Real Home
83% of property agents cited that staging a property helps the buyer visualise it as a future home. Adding the personal touch that gives an emotional connection instead of a sterile atmosphere definitely leads to memorable impressions and heightened sales, but it can be really costly.
Virtual staging takes this to the next level. Rendering a virtual property in VR and AR allows the buyer to customise their experience, changing everything from paint color to furniture so they can fully visualise their dream house. Most importantly, it’s far cheaper than furnishing your properties in reality.
Alternatively, you don’t have to build the entire thing from the ground up virtually – use AR with existing properties to overlay reality with decorations. Dulux employs a smartphone app that lets you change the color of your walls, while Ikea Place allows users to place furniture within your home, with exact dimensions instantly available.
*Atlas Bay VR‘s showroom exhibits easy customisation for colors and furniture with a click of a button.
See Exactly What It Looks Like
Marketing a property that hasn’t been completed or constructed has always been a necessary but troublesome challenge for developers and agents alike. While the common practice has been creating miniaturised or full-scale models for potential buyers to survey, these methods require considerable investment but are still limited in providing buyers sufficient visualisation.
AR and VR are looking to change all that. Not only are they much cheaper than paying for furnishing, interior design and space rental; they are far more immersive and accurate in letting the buyer visualise and customise their potential home.
Think about it – the cost of adding different varieties of furniture or furnishing once your virtual showroom or virtual environment has been created is marginal, while the cost of adding the same in reality can easily break the bank.
Of course, you need to keep your ROI in mind when it comes to development of any kind. I’ve mentioned interactivity where buyers can customise the virtual showroom into their dream home via adding or changing furniture and furnishings on the fly –but to for their dream home to become a reality, they actually need to own these items as well.
Having the option for buyers to instantly purchase any preferences they have on a virtual store is one that greatly benefits the seller and any associated suppliers as well. More importantly, this means greater convenience for the buyer – and in this age, convenience always sells.
Change the Game
AR and VR have been around for quite some time, but we’re just beginning to see widespread application now. That means it’s still a significant game-changer in the market, but not one that hasn’t been untested.
I get that these technologies may seem overly technical and intimidating – and that’s perfectly understandable! – but there’s no need to shoot for the stars right away. Virtual and 360° tours are relatively easy to create and highly accessible for everyone (they can even join in via their browsers without any downloads) but if you’re looking for a more sophisticated and immersive experience, fully utilizing AR or VR is the way forward.