Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly important role in the real estate industry, which is changing the marketing and sales landscape of real estate. Within AI, the impacts of Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) seem to be likely to make a big imprint on the industry.
The AR/VR Market and Real Estate
Research from Goldman Sachs estimates that the market for virtual reality (VR) in real estate alone could generate as much as $2.6 billion by 2025. This year alone, the research estimated that 130,000 real estate agents will be using VR to show homes with annual spending of $5,000, which could grow yearly by 10%. Clearly, sizeable financial investments are being made into AR/VR technologies within real estate, but to what end?
The biggest impact of AR/VR in real estate will be in virtual reality home tours. These are created by bringing strategically placed 360° cameras into the home to film. The footage is edited together for a seamless, real-life, 3-D experience. The idea is that the user will feel like he or she is in the actual physical home that is shown through the VR experience. A VR home tour can allow users to make measurements and learn dimensions within the home but primarily, it is used to gauge an emotional appeal or “feel” from potential buyers toward a property. This technology adds an additional layer of depth to the previous use of two-dimensional videos and still photography to show a property’s charms. Sotheby’s Real Estate is one company using VR tours, and you can see an example of what a VR home tour looks like on their website, here.
What’s The Benefit of This Technology?
It is projected that consumers will want the technology to see homes on their own (without the agent’s involvement) and agents will want to leverage the technology to show homes to clients, creating demand on both sides. The idea is that VR provides a more immersive, true to life experience, without the inconvenience and time commitment of physically going to see multiple homes or properties for individuals who are looking to buy. Virtual home tours could quite possibly speed up the purchasing process with increased confidence to home buyers. According to VRARA, 40.4% of apartment buyers confirmed that panoramic tours play an important role in making purchasing decisions.
How Third-Party AR Apps Are Changing Real Estate
Many potential buyers are interested in knowing what a particular paint color might look like in the kitchen or how a sofa they’re interested in purchasing would fit in their living room. There are a plethora of home furnishing and decorating AR apps that allow customers to experience products before purchasing them. This comes in handy particularly when remodeling, or renovating a home.
Houzz is an app that uses AR technology that allows its users to choose from among 10 million products and view them in a space. The user can use the View in My Room 3D mode to see furniture or other home decorating ideas come to life. The app also offers home decorating ideas, can put clients in touch with professionals such as architects or designers and has a social sharing aspect.
In 2017, Hutch the interior design app, raised $10M in funding from real estate giant Zillow, cementing the overlap of interest between home decorating and the real estate market. The app aims to help novice decorators work like pros by allowing them to customize their homes with the use of augmented reality. Hutch proposes furniture and decoration from popular companies, which can be placed in a room and viewed 3-dimensionally, and also offers virtual paint settings that show different paint colors applied to the walls of user’s actual homes.
The Swedish department store giant, IKEA launched an AR application that allows its users to try out IKEA products before purchasing them. The app called IKEA Place shows realistically rendered 3-D versions of products that can then be placed inside of a user’s home. The app technology can scale products based on room dimensions and users can select from over 2,000 IKEA products. The app makes shopping from home all the more enticing and allows users to forge a personal connection between their own homes and furniture in IKEA.
Apps such as Houzz, Hutch, and IKEA Place help eliminate buyers’ remorse and create emotional connections between a buyer and a property.
The real estate industry is embracing AI through the use of AR/VR technologies. With virtual reality technology, buyers are able to make an emotional, sensory, and physical connection with homes, touring without actually setting foot inside. This technology should add excitement to the real estate market, expediting the purchasing process and giving consumers greater confidence to make purchases without physically visiting a property.
In an additional bump to the real estate market’s embrace of technology, third party home goods retailers have popularized augmented reality technologies to help shoppers envision how a sofa or chandelier would look in their current or soon-to-be home. While technology alone cannot sell homes or furniture, it can help buyers to make decisions more quickly with more accurate information, resulting in less hesitation and reduced buyers’ remorse.