Virtual reality–the future of home selling?

June 23, 2016 / By  

Twenty years ago, classified advertisements in newspapers were considered one of the most effective ways for homeowners to market their homes. With the advent of the internet, online listings with photos and videos of the properties became popular. So what is next for home-selling?

The answer could lie in Virtual Reality (VR).  While the technology has been around since the 1960s, the recent development of VR headsets such as Oculus Rift, Oculus Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR has brought excitement not only to gamers but also to home-sellers and buyers.

These devices add a third dimension (i.e. spatial depth) to what pictures or videos can offer on websites or on print. By tracking head and eye movement, these latest devices allow homebuyers to navigate within the virtual environment of their future house as if they were actually in it. They can walk from one room to another, look out the window of their future bedroom and imagine their lovely dinner on the balcony. All this can be done without any visit to the property or show flat.

VR can potentially help homebuyers save time and money by reducing the number of physical trips to potential houses. From the property developers’ perspective, virtual show flats can enhance their marketing effort especially with prospective overseas buyers who can better appreciate their product in additional to the traditional marketing brochures and scaled models.

In South East Asia, one of the first movers in introducing VR into home-selling on a large scale is Zipmatch.  A Philippines-based technology company, Zipmatch offers a service that allows for an immersive 360-degree VR tour of residential properties in the Philippines via VR goggles attached to a smartphone installed with the ZipMatch Pro app. In Singapore, however, while 360-degree virtual tours viewed via laptops, tablets and handphones are common, the application of the latest VR technology and headsets is very limited.

Hence, despite its many benefits, the application of VR in real estate is still in its infancy.  As the technology is costly, its application has been largely limited to the marketing of luxury properties and large-scale developments. Moreover, many of today’s homebuyers comprise the older generation who still prefer physical visits to the properties over virtual ones.

With more companies joining the field and competition intensifying, VR technology should become increasingly more affordable. Homebuyers of the not-too-distant future will be the Millennials and Generation Z who are more likely to say “yes” to VR given their exposure to technology since a young age.

Thus, the adoption of VR in home-selling has the potential to become more widespread.  In the future, VR could bring to homebuyers not only sight but also a sense of touch with the aid of haptic technology. Potential buyers would not only be able to walk through the virtual show flat but also touch the kitchen-top and feel the doorknobs.

It is exciting to imagine just how the future of home selling could change!

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