Virtual Reality in Real Estate - How Real Estate Agents Can Use VR
October 12, 2021

Virtual Reality in Real Estate - How Real Estate Agents Can Use VR

by The CE Shop Team

What Is Virtual Reality & How Can It Be Used In Real Estate?

Virtual reality, or VR, is a video medium that places viewers in another space as if they were there in real life — generally through the use of special goggles or a movable view in a video. Think of it like a virtual tour, only that the viewer is in complete control of the frame. It’s an immersive experience that used to be exclusive for the techy few who knew how to produce it, but thanks to new easier-to-use 360-degree cameras, apps, and image-stitching software — not to mention a global pandemic forcing more agents to use technology — the marketing power of VR can be harnessed by anyone. In fact, it’s especially useful in the real estate industry. 

Virtual Reality In Real Estate Benefits The Consumer Too 

To the uninitiated, virtual reality technology can seem frivolous. However, younger tech-savvy clients are quick to adopt the experience and all of the benefits that it affords. Not only is it a game-changer by creating a unique customer experience, but it's also an effective way to wow potential buyers. Here’s what you can do and why it could be beneficial to your real estate business. 

Interactive Virtual House Tours - Your Digital Open House

Armed with the power of VR, you'll be able to host a staged, virtual open house that can be accessed at any time of the day from anywhere there's an internet connection. If done well, VR can be a powerful tool in helping potential buyers feel as if they're actually there. It's also a great way to get listings as many homebuyers who had a good VR experience will also likely want to have that option when it's time to list — especially in an increasingly digitized environment.   

Virtual Home Staging 

In the 2021 Profile of Home Staging Report produced by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 82% of agents report that staging helped their clients visualize living at a property. What’s more, 7 in 10 real estate professionals have found photos, videos, and virtual tours more important since the beginning of the pandemic. Virtual staging, along with a VR experience, can help you create and share that visualization with more potential homebuyers via technology, often for far less than the cost of actual staging. 

Showing Previous Visuals of Unfinished New Construction Homes 

Make no mistake, the benefits of VR technology don't stop at staging. Masters of the technology can create visuals for unfinished homes — adding in finishes, features, or renovations —  or 3D models of virtual properties that don’t even exist yet.

This is especially useful for selling a home that’s got great bones but clients just can’t seem to grasp the vision, or for clients who might want to see a home with a potential addition. VR can transport them into those spaces and set the context. 

Improve Accessibility For Disabled Real Estate Clients 

Real estate is for everybody, so when it comes to working with disabled clients VR can greatly improve the overall real estate experience. Whether a person has a mobility impairment, a mental health obstacle, respiratory condition, or something as common as arthritis, one in four Americans live with a disability. Property tours via virtual reality, in essence, can help make more properties accessible to your clients so they can have a better idea of what they're looking for.  

Did You Know? 

Like electric cars which have been around since the 1870s, virtual reality isn’t necessarily a new idea. Creating the feeling of being in a different place via film has been experimented with since the 1950s, and using a head-mounted device came about in 1965 when inventor Ivan Sutherland offered “the Ultimate Display”. Though the term “virtual reality” wasn’t used until the 1980s, the idea has remained largely the same for several decades. 

How Much Does Virtual Reality Cost In Real Estate? 

Like other forms of photography or videography, the cost of virtual reality can be very low or very high. Those on a shoestring budget can start by downloading a mobile app specifically meant to take 360-degree photos and begin experimenting. Then, when you’re ready to put in the effort you can purchase a 360-degree video camera for roughly $100-$500 and a VR headset, such as an Oculus, for about $200.  

Producing and viewing VR video can be challenging, so just be sure to do your research on how to shoot/share your work to see if you’re comfortable with the technology. If not, a local videographer or architectural modeling firm (in the case of additions or renovations) can likely help you produce stunning 360-degree tours, but those skills come at a significant cost.

What Are The Cons of Using Virtual Reality In Real Estate? 

VR tours bring the wow factor to perusing listings, but producing VR walkthroughs can be intimidating and time-consuming if you’re not comfortable with technology. Furthermore, some might find the technology difficult to use, or they may not be equipped to experience it. In those cases, you’ll have to invite clients into your office to use your VR headset, have them download a VR app, or you might have to do some coaching on how to view a 360-degree video on their desktop, tablet, or mobile device. 

Regardless, investing in VR is worth it simply because it’ll create an emotional connection with prospective buyers and set you apart from the majority of real estate companies who are still playing it old-school.