4 Ways Virtual Reality Will Transform Real Estate | Real Estate Agent | BMO
 
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A young real estate agent tests a virtual reality headset.

A mere decade ago, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) only seemed possible in science fiction movies. That changed quickly once the tech was adopted by the video game and entertainment industries.

But the rise of VR hasn’t stopped there. As the cost of using such technology decreases and more startups enter this space, it’s predicted that virtual reality in real estate will be the next hottest trend.

Real estate revenue generated by VR/ARThird Party Link has the potential to reach $2.6 billion by 2025. So if you’re a tech-savvy real estate agent who wants to stay ahead of the game, you might want to hop on board the VR train to gain a competitive advantage.

Here are four ways that virtual and augmented reality in real estate might make your job easier — and help you close more deals.

1. Give your clients the full picture

Property that isn’t yet developed or that is mid-development can be a hard sell for even the most experienced real estate agents. Making a large investment based solely on plans written out on paper is a risk not a lot of buyers are willing to take.

But this is where virtual reality in real estate can help. Instead of trying to explain to clients what a property will look like once it’s finished, you can now show them exactly what they’re getting before construction even begins.

With a VR headset, buyers can take stunningly realistic 3-D tours of the future home. Real estate agents have already begun using this technique to sell pre-construction propertiesThird Party Link, with virtual models so detailed that clients can even peer out windows to see the view.

This development may help clients reach decisions faster and be less hesitant about investing in a property that they can’t yet see in person.

Related: As drones take to the sky in real estate, are you onboard?

2. Allow clients to virtually customize homes

Imagine you’re showing your clients a fixer-upper. Now imagine you can transport that client into four possible layouts of the same property within minutes.

It can be tough to sell a client on a home that needs work, but VR can make it easy for buyers to imagine the potential. With the click of a button, you could demonstrate what the property would look like with an updated kitchen, a new paint color or after knocking down a few walls.

This can help clients feel more comfortable about the process and more confident about purchasing a place that needs some work. Virtual reality can show them all of the “what if” scenarios long before they start any renovations.

“Rather than buyers having to rely on 2D images, VR helps to inspire an emotional connection to a space, essential for those buying a home,” says Robert KendalThird Party Link, CEO at Canadian architectural VR firm Yulio™.

3. Show homes to long-distance clients

2016 studyThird Party Link commissioned by Redfin® found that almost 20 percent of homebuyers are making offers on homes without ever seeing them in person. And buyers of high-end homes were twice as likely to have made offers on homes sight unseen.

The use of virtual reality in real estate opens up local real estate markets to long-distance buyers by mitigating the risk of buying property from afar. The cost of scanning an existing home for VRThird Party Link can range from $300 to $700. Agents can remotely guide clients through the tour, and even see where the client is looking.

“As buyers are able to ‘experience’ a property as opposed to simply viewing images of it, there is far less chance for misunderstandings and miscommunication and buyers tend to be able to make quicker and more educated decisions,” says Robert Kendal.

Related: 8 must-have apps for on-the-go agents

4. Allow clients to virtually stage properties

Property staging is a time-consuming and expensive affair.

The price of hiring a professional stager varies based on the size of the home, but the costs can add up quickly the longer your home is on the market. And it can sometimes do more harm than good if the tastes of a client don’t jive with those of the decorator.

Augmented reality can help by offering clients the possibility to see how their own furniture (or furniture that matches their taste) can fit into a property.

How to get started with virtual reality in real estate

If you want to start experimenting with VR in a low-cost way, 360-degree photos and videos are a great place to start. Facebook allows users to take high-quality 360-degree photosThird Party Link on your smartphone. If you’re ready to invest a little more, there are a variety of 360 cameras available that can capture seamless panoramic videos of your listings.

As the technology progresses and becomes more accessible, real estate agents will be able to superimpose furniture and renovations using augmented reality.

Once you have your shots, you can send them to clients all over the country in lieu of traditional 2D photos. Or you can order an inexpensive headset for a DIY virtual reality experience. Just assemble the headset and put your smartphone inside. Now, your clients can get an immersive (and impressive) VR tour of their new home.

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