It's no secret that real estate has been slow to embrace many of the technological advances that are now commonplace in other professions. This is due in part to the traditionally heavy dependence on people - agents, brokers, and others - to do the heavy lifting.
In one desirable neighborhood in Southern California, for example, postcards from agents and brokers still arrive almost daily via U.S. mail. Agents walk the territory, leaving flyers and scratch pads, and lawn signage is still the primary driver to announce an open house.
All that may change soon as the versatility and sophistication of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) take hold.
By way of definition, VR is the digital presentation of a particular environment, in this case, a home or commercial property that is up for sale or auction. AR is the use of digital elements and images of the real world to create a potential environment. With AR, it's easy to see how a new wall color or Danish furniture would look in an existing living room.
The public may be ahead of the profession: One survey showed that 70% of the prospective home buyers quizzed had taken a virtual tour before visiting the property live. It is this high level of comfort with technology that will be the key driver to more sophisticated VR and AR technology in real estate.
The available tools in AR are already impressive, with more to come. AR allows buyers to:
- View properties from any and all angles
- Browse desirable properties and compare features
- Achieve a "near reality" experience of living or working in the property (aka virtual staging)
All without leaving the home or office.
There are benefits for agents and brokers too:
- AR and VR apps allow for instant updates on properties and provide justification for contact with a prospect without the annoyance factor
- Potential response to calls-to-action are increased
- More prospects are reached through significantly less effort but with far greater visual impact
Thriving AR and VR vendors are already developing the next generation of visual aids, including AR blueprint reviews.
The rub, as is often the case, is the cost. No one claims that engaging a VR or AR campaign is less expensive than handing out note pads, but the key is response.
Here, we are reminded of a wise marketing pro who said, "Nothing is expensive if it works."