Virtual Reality Real Estate: How Will You Inspect Your Next Home?
By 2020 it’s projected that most Australian homes will have 3D glasses or virtual reality headsets.
This technology has the potential to dramatically change how home buyers search for their next property.
Keep reading to explore how virtual reality is going to impact the world of real estate, and the new options you'll have when searching for your next home.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality allows you to experience a scene in full 3 dimensions, using a computer program and sophisticated viewing hardware to simulate the scene as though you were really there.
It’s a completely immersive experience that transports you from where you really are to a designed environment.
How can I view real estate using Virtual Reality (VR)?
Virtual reality is available at select real estate agencies and property developers.
It's really useful for home buyers or investors who can’t get to the property they want to buy.
It's also a fantastic tool for prospective buyers who want to view many properties in a short period of time before selecting which ones to attend in person.
Virtual reality is also being adopted by developers wanting to display off-the-plan apartments and homes before construction is complete.
The most immersive way to experience VR is using a headset. You’ll also need a PC, smartphone or console to run the software for the simulation.
Virtual off-the-plan Real Estate
The easiest way to view off-the-plan Australian real estate in 3D before it's built is to find the property developer's app for your smartphone.
We've found 2 great apps, designed by collaborations between VR tech companies and property developers, that each provide you with a unique type of 3D experience:
Full 3D virtual Real Estate
The Edge 28 VR app was created by collaboration between Start VR and Laing + Simmons for iOS and Android.
The Edge 28 VR app is free to download, but to view the content in 3D you’ll need a headset.
3D glasses such as Google Cardboard are really cheap to buy, or if you’re game you can even have a go at making your own.
Using this app you can take a tour of the off-the-plan apartment block being built at 28 Albany Street, St Leonards on Sydney's lower north shore.
The tours have been designed so that you’re not getting up and walking around the virtual space. This makes the experience much more comfortable and safe.
Sitting in a swivel chair, you view the entire 360 from that location, giving you a sense of the simulated room you’re in, without the danger of you walking into a real wall by mistake.
You can choose to view a panel of different interior designs within the app too, comparing how different layouts and materials will look during the day and at dusk.
When viewed with 3D glasses the images you see above will provide a panoramic view, putting you 'virtually' on the balcony of the apartment.
You make selections about which section of the apartment block to view by looking directly at the area you want to see more closely.
This will cause you to 'move' to that place so you can explore it as though you were actually there.
Augemented reality Real Estate
Many people who aren't familiar with virtual reality find that this is a more comfortable place to start the leap into the world of 3D.
It's different from virtual reality because you won't lose your sense of where you are in the real world while viewing the 3D content.
You won't need 3D glasses to view augmented reality. All you need is your smart phone or a computer.
‘Augmented reality’ is 3D imagery you can interact with, while retaining your complete awareness of the real world.
ARTi is a free app that let's you view new property developments in 3D. All you'll need is a smart phone.
Within the app you can view apartment floor plans and see the 360 view from the balcony of each apartment.
I’d recommend using a swivel chair to make it comfortable when you take the full 360 tour of the virtual apartment.
If you do have 3D glasses, the ARTi app can also give you a complete virtual experience.
Right now you can view 2 developments projects located in Sydney using the app, with 3 more coming soon.
THe owners of ARTi app, Thirdi Group, have developments across Australia, including Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Whyalla and Toowoomba.
We expect that as the popularity of VR grows, they will expand their app's virtual tours to display developments Australia wide.
Virtually Reality for existing Real Estate
If you’re in Adelaide, Ouwens Casserly are one of the first real estate agents Australia to incorporate 3D VR real estate tours of existing properties.
This means that their clients can explore a number of properties without needing to attend a physical home inspection.
When you attend real estate agents office that offers virtual reality real estate tours, you can experience a totally immersive, high level 3D experience using a powerful computer.
You can also find 3D real estate listings online on the popular real estate websites.
These are augmented reality rather than the complete immersive experience, and allow you to 'walk through' a property using any computer or smartphone.
Real estate websites offering 3D property views
Domain.com.au and realestate.com.au both have 3-D listings that you can view from your laptop or mobile.
For some great examples of 3D listings you might find, check out South Australian company Ticketyview's Facebook page.
The 3-D tour isn’t immersive like when you use 3D glasses, but you’ll still get a great feel for the flow of the property and it’s real size than you will from a floor plan and photographs.
It's a bit easier to navigate these listings from the smartphone than the desktop computer.
Using the desktop and mouse to navigate as you ‘walk-through’ the property, you might find yourself face up against a wall occasionally.
However, the 3D experience gives you a true feel for the flow of the property and rooms connect, very different to looking at a 2D floor plan.
How is a VR real estate listing created?
Virtual tours of property developments
To create a virtual tour of an apartment building that hasn't been built yet, actual drone footage is taken from the location of the planned construction.
These images are use to give you the views that you’ll see from each floor once building is complete.
Because the interior of the home hasn't yet been completed, you've got freedom to experiment with ideas in the virtual space on how you want the new apartment to look.
Using the developers floorplan as the starting point, in 3D you can experiment with the use of different colours, materials and the placement of lights.
You can also see in real time how your potential new home will look at different times of day through the simulation.
This gives you the ability to optimise your new apartment before it's constructed, removing uncertainty from the planning process.
Creating a virtual tour of an existing home
For an existing home, a virtual reality listing is created using photographs and floorplans.
Photographs of the property can be taken with dedicated software from an iPad, or using a special type of camera such as a Matterport Pro Camera.
This just depends on the company creating the listing.
Creating a virtual tour of your property will cost between $400-700.
Purchasing Real Estate using virtual reality
One key advantage of VR for property buyers is they can now 'tour' more properties in a much shorter time period.
Instead of spending the whole weekend traveling to see 3-4 properties, you can ‘visit’ 10-20 open inspections in a single afternoon.
Then you can get an idea of what you like.
If you do see a property that you love, you'll be more likely to view it in person to get a feel for the neighborhood and the space.
This is super-handy if you're looking to buy interstate, or you're a FIFO worker.
Real Estate for the future
As virtual reality becomes more prevalent in the Australian market, we're pretty sure that soon your first look at properties to purchase will be in the virtual world.
With virtual reality it may become possible to purchase a home using a completely online process.
With online home loan pre-approvals already available, soon you'll be able to choose your home and making an offer from wherever you are.