Virtual Reality Viewings for Estate Agency

Virtual reality is growing, and is something I have been covering extensively in my PropTech blog. That should come as no surprise to anyone with one eye on the news. And, for those working in the Property sector, the technology is quickly gaining a name for itself as a harbinger of exciting new developments for the industry.

Over the last few months in particular, we have seen leading companies in the Property sector announcing their own virtual reality platforms for marketing their properties.

There was Irish industry-leaders, Sherry Fitzgerald, who agreed terms with Samsung to launch VR walkthroughs on a property that was still in development.

There was also Foxtons, who kicked off their Samsung-powered VR debut with a walkthrough of the Fulham Reach development.

Then, hot on the heels of Foxtons, came Rightmove’s VR trial, which took a slightly different route of making their product available simply on Google Cardboard and via their YouTube channel, or directly via the 360 video app, Littlestar. in a move that takes tentative steps towards making the technology accessible at mid-range residential level. However, like the others, Rightmove’s first immersive video walkthroughs were set in high end properties.

So, Can My Agency Go VR?

Untethered virtual reality, such as that available through Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, offers good growth for estate agencies interested in cost-effective solutions. By working with 360 degree cameras, such as the Ricoh Theta and Giroptic, this method makes adoption simpler for agencies working with existing properties.

Tethered VR, on the other hand, which comes through hardware such as the Oculus and HTC Vive, are more suitable for creating virtual experiences in development. Construction, housebuilding and high end real estate properties will benefit, as tethered VR has the capacity to allow environments to be created from scratch.

All signs are pointing to continued growth of VR at gathering speed, with big agencies already picking up on the potential applications the technology will have on the industry. VR walkthroughs will help agents overcome a variety of challenges currently considered everyday occupational hazards of the industry.

For example, by bypassing the need to access properties directly so often, the need to attend physical viewings will be significantly streamlined. There’ll be no more working around existing occupants of a property, arranging access, or dealing with tricky London traffic to make it to viewings on time!

Virtual reality in the Property industry will also save a lot of time for buyers and prospective tenants. Currently, it’s estimated that buyers and tenants view around 15 properties before deciding on their chosen home. It’s clear to see how being able to access virtual reality walkthroughs from the offices of the estate agency, or even from the comfort of their own home, will drastically cut the number of properties they have to make time to go and see.

What’s more, the increased exposure offered to sellers and landlords by the rise of virtual reality implies a quicker route to sale, whilst also cutting out the inconvenience of regularly preparing their property for viewings.

Foxtons Chief Information Officer, Dan Rafferty, already announced at the launch of their tech, that they are now “approaching a stage of extending this functionality to all [their] offices”. And if Foxtons are all over it, the chances are that the rest of the industry will soon be following suit.

Alex Evans

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