Both virtual reality and augmented reality applications are set to revolutionise real estate industry marketing. Both applications have benefits for your property marketing – so is this another Betamax versus VHS format war in the making? Or will both be superseded by “mixed reality” technology?
Key differences between VR and AR
The terms virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are often used interchangeably. However, they are different in important ways.
VR is more of an immersive experience into a 3D world, where you could, say, take a virtual ‘walk’ through a property with the use of a special headset. Computer-generated images give you the feeling that you were actually inside the property. VR, in effect, blocks out the ‘real world’.
AR, although still immersive through the use of 3D photographs, keeps you anchored firmly in the real world as you use your smartphone to point at items and overlay them with digitised information (think Pokémon Go). With AR, you aren’t isolated through VR goggles; less chance of accidentally bumping into things.
“VR is immersive. AR’s 3D interactive anchors you in the real world.”
Pros and cons of virtual reality and augmented reality
AR enhances existing reality through computer-generated overlays that allow viewer interaction with a property plan, a newspaper photograph or (coming soon) a ‘For Sale’ sign outside a residential property. Potential buyers also have the ability to virtually customise a property before they even get to the purchase.
For VR, you need an inexpensive headset (or ‘goggles’) to experience your property walk-through.
VR creates its own reality through computer generation of a real-life setting whereas AR offers digital elements overlaid on something more tangible.
Both offer users an enriched real estate property viewing experience rather than the old-style one-dimensional property marketing.
Here’s a great video snapshot, from Stambol Studios, showing how virtual reality and augmented reality come together from the visual designer to the home buying viewers perspective:
VR and AR leadership
Use of both VR and AR is gaining ground in Australia and overseas. Matterport, a key player in these technologies, is partnering with the REA Group’s realestate.com.au to attract and engage buyers through the use of its 3D camera.
Inman has reported that in the US agents are using VR to display luxury homes to groups, other agents, and overseas buyers – all without disturbing the owners with ‘open for inspection’ days.
“Offer buyers a fully immersive property experience while saving on travel costs.”
Charities such as yourtown or Mater Hospital, both of which offer properties via lottery, deliver (admittedly stilted) ‘tours’ of their featured properties through their websites, as have a number of real estate agents over the past years.
Globally, more and more real estate agents and listings sites (such as realestate.com.au in Australia) are realising the potential of both VR and AR.
All these businesses realise that, to demonstrate leadership in the real estate market, to convert property viewers to clients, to attract and retain the best employees, AR and VR are key components.
“AR and VR are important tools to demonstrate leadership in the real estate market.”
Until relatively recently, the cost of these new technologies was prohibitive for all but the largest real estate businesses. However, with costs dropping all the time, now is the time to get on board and offer potential buyers or renters a fully immersive experience while also saving on travel costs and time.
Neesh Property managing director, Michael Sanz, said in an interview with Elite Agent magazine: “I bought a virtual 360-degree camera for $600 in the UK. Before that, we were doing videos to try to show people more properties. We understand people are time sensitive and time poor, so this was a solution.”
Image source: Samsung Gear wearables
Sanz said that prospective tenants prefer to visit their office and use the VR goggles to take a virtual walk through the property rather than line up for an open-for-inspection day. He believes that, for their property management business, the agency is saving around 12 hours of travel and open time for properties with VR.
Leading the industry
This technology is not simply about a more immersive or interactive experience for property purchasers; it’s also a great way for real estate businesses and agents to be seen as innovators. So, principals and agents, jump on board!
VR or AR: Which will win?
So which technology do you think will win the real estate marketing battle? Or do you believe that both have their place?
We posed this question to Sei Onishi from Vantage Interactive, creators of virtual experiences, for the property market.
“I think if I had to choose, I’d say virtual reality is ready right now and will be the winner in the short term. Headsets and software have both come down in price, and are readily available. Augmented reality still has a way to go though before it’s ready ‘out of the box’.”
Coming soon to your home
Just as once we couldn’t conceive a computer in every home, so too is it difficult to envisage virtual reality or augmented reality in our everyday lives.
In our next article, we’ll show you how VR and AR will transform not only your business life but also your home and learning life.