When it comes to property and real estate, virtual reality (VR) has a remarkable number of use cases that are set to transform the way brands engage with customers.
But before we dive into the many applications and benefits of VR in the real estate sector, it’s important to understand the technology and how consumers perceive it.
VR is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment that you can interact with using special equipment such as a headset and controllers. It sits under the wider extended reality (XR) umbrella, which also includes augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).
Agency SYZYGY XR recently polled 1,000 consumers in the UK to better understand their mindset, behaviour, and decision-making in relation to VR. Advancements in the underlying technology have brought the cost of consumer VR products down while increasing quality and functionality. When asked: “What are the biggest barriers stopping you from purchasing a VR headset?”, “quality” ranked as the lowest barrier to entry, with just three per cent of consumers concerned about the quality of VR products.
Second, consumer behaviour has matured to a point of acceptance and anticipation – in other words, the modern shopper can now envision VR in their daily lives.
According to our research, 72% of consumers believe that VR will become part of their daily routine, just as the smartphone is now. Younger generations are even more bullish. In fact, 81 per cent of 16- to 34-year-olds believe that VR will play a ubiquitous role in their daily lives.
Keeping up with change is pivotal, but adoption must be done in such a way that it solves existing problems in the business infrastructure.
The commercial case for VR in real estate
VR is a powerful tool for real estate brands, but most have yet to harness the technology in a meaningful way.
Get this: more than half of all shoppers (53 per cent) would be more likely to purchase a product or service if it included a VR experience. While the public holds a positive view of VR, just 26 per cent of consumers have taken part in a VR experience when purchasing a product or service.
This gap between consumer demand and brand activation highlights an exciting opportunity: today’s shoppers would be more likely to purchase if advertising included a VR experience. Yet brands either a) aren’t offering VR experiences or b) aren’t delivering VR experiences that provide quality, value and substance. As a property developer or real estate agency, now is the time to act.
How is VR transforming real estate?
Over the past decade, pioneers like Amazon have rewritten the rules of business, meaning today’s real estate brands must deliver purpose-driven experiences that are fast, reliable and super-efficient.
Consider this: in 2019, 81 per cent of companies expect to compete on the basis of Customer Experience. While competition is high, the rewards are great. In fact, customers who have a very good experience with a brand are 3.5x more likely to repurchase and 5x more likely to recommend that company to family and friends.
In 2018, Danwood S.A., a leading property development company in Europe, approached us with a challenge: “How can we convince potential clients to purchase a premium house that is not yet built and can’t be seen in real life?”
Designed by Danish architects, the property development featured a luxurious, modern design with a clean look and finish. To capture the essence of the homes, we created software that would take the customer into a virtual house, so they could look, feel and touch.
Tasked with creating a line of premium houses named ‘Vision’, we crafted each home in 3D with astonishing attention to detail and light. The experience, which only requires VR goggles and a sales representative, means that the property line can be shown to customers in any market across Europe.
Vision for tomorrow
For the first time, property viewing has become mobile and agile. This is a bold move that redefines the future of the real estate.
With VR, the customer and agent experience full immersion in the house. This technology serves as more than just a compelling visualisation; it actually enhances the selling process, since a salesman can enter the property with the customer and advise or even modify aspects of the home as they journey together.
For an industry that relies heavily on an aesthetic appeal to drive marketing and sales, the use of lifelike VR simulations opens up an entirely new window of exploration. With in-store VR headsets, real estate agents can build virtual applications that thrust the customer into a rich, vivid, lifelike home.
For businesses sceptical about the significance of XR, we must learn from history: innovation speaks louder than words.
As the world hurtles towards a more immersive digital ecosystem, the convergence of VR and human behaviour will usher in a new era of discovery, interaction and purchase.