Virtual Reality and COVID-19: a Match Made in Heaven?
Modern technological developments continue to shape the world around us; within the real estate industry, the latest and greatest is Virtual Reality (VR). This technology is disrupting the homebuilding industry, ultimately empowering homebuyers to immerse themselves in the customization of their home, while builders are able to better serve the needs and wants of their clients. To clarify, VR is the digital simulation of a 3D environment that can be interacted with as if the viewer was physically present in the space. It is clear that this advanced technology opens up a world of possibilities for homebuilders as this industry is increasingly digital. For example, 51% of people are buying homes that they found online; now imagine the possibilities when VR technology has matured within real estate and development. Let’s dive into the different benefits and features of this revolutionary technology and its impact on the homebuilding industry.
TURN IMAGINATION INTO REALITY
What once was deemed an obstacle, now presents itself as a significant opportunity. A major pain point for homebuyers, especially during the current COVID-19 environment, is the lack of visibility of their new home. Many believe it is simply safer to settle for an imperfect, existing home. However, with this technology, homebuyers have the opportunity to see exactly what their dream home will look like. VR allows buyers to immerse themselves in their new home while making all the adjustments and modifications they want.
When clients experience their dream home via VR, this technology allows for builders to demonstrate the customizable options that are available, rather than just simply using words and static 2D images to envision their home. A potential client has the ability to change the shade of wood for the flooring, or adjust each of the finishes, all with the click of a button. Traditional model homes are restrictive when it comes to a potential homebuyer’s personal style and taste; but with VR you can show buyers exactly what they want, ultimately increasing the likelihood of purchase. The options are truly endless.
DIGITIZE YOUR SALES PROCESS
VR technology enables home builders to offer virtual tours, but what happens when buyers have questions? Well 77% of clients want to have a virtual tour before a ‘real’ visit and with the right technology, builders can integrate virtual sales support into each VR home tour. To do so, Market Share Inc. suggests tagging your sales messaging to touch points within the virtual tour experience. For example, if you want to highlight how the refrigerator is designed to appear as a cabinet, you can attach a video explaining where the appliance is, the size and dimension, etc.
OPTIMIZE WEBSITE TRAFFIC
VR technology is one of the most captivating tools to utilize on your website. The increase in website engagement will accelerate website traffic, as the VR technology and virtual tours hold viewers’ attention for much longer compared to static content. Therefore, this technology will increase the time spent on each page, ultimately increasing your website traffic.
SPEND MORE TIME SELLING
VR offers homebuilders the opportunities to increase sales and reduce transaction costs. The increased traffic online will accelerate the sales process and bring more qualified leads into your sales centers. The exposure to the listing via VR technology will captivate your buyers and guide them through the sales funnel much more efficiently. Also, a virtual tour helps both buyers and sellers to save on viewing costs such as travel and staffing expenses ultimately increasing operational efficiency.
Virtual Tours and COVID-19
VR tours have revolutionized the homebuilding industry; and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits and features of this technology have never been more eminent. VR tours offer a full interior 360-degree view of your home design. This allows for the flexibility of your prospective buyer to investigate every nook and cranny much more closely than the traditional images normally available on websites. As outlined earlier, VR offers the abilities for buyers to have a fully immersive experience, even in the digital space. This advanced technology enables buyers to feel as if they are physically in the space, ultimately initiating an emotional connection and a sense of ownership with their future home much earlier.
VR tours also offer homebuyers the ability to navigate their own path through the home, providing a personalized experience immediately. Visitors can visit and revisit rooms at their own pace and familiarize themselves with the space in their own way. The fully furnished capabilities of VR tours allow prospective buyers to have fully a customizable buying experience and allows builders to showcase each of the custom finishes they offer. And to top it all off, VR is often mobile friendly, because what can’t you do on your smartphone?
WHERE DO YOU START?
VR is spear-heading the next wave of technology in the homebuilding industry, but where are you supposed to start? What kind of an undertaking is this integration? There are different levels of sophistication for integration of VR technology depending on the size of your organization and your operational budget. The most accessible method outlined by Builder is utilizing a 3D, 360-degree digital camera; within the industry, the most commonly used is made by Matterport or the GoPro Max. After shooting the footage of each room using a Matterport camera and utilizing the associated web-based platform, builders can upload and automatically stitch the footage together into a VR tour. Footage from existing model homes will result in the most lifelike experience, however builders will need a fully constructed furnished model home that is photo-ready.
Despite the recession due to the COVID-19 crisis, virtual tours continue to play a significant role in the continued success of the housing market. Matterport quickly transitioned from being a niche product used by larger firms in real estate to an accessible form of technology for realtors and homebuilders of all sizes. Matterport recently discussed their success with CNBC and the company’s tactful adaptation to the changing environment due to the current health crisis. In May, the company introduced an iPhone app that allows users to capture and share 3D tours without having to invest in the expensive professional cameras that Matterport offers. The pandemic pushed the release of the app forward by a whole quarter, however this strategic move has allowed Matterport to position themselves as the choice VR technology for homebuilders and realtors of all sizes.
During these unprecedented times, expanding and investing in your online presence is critical. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the digitization of the homebuilding industry is being accelerated and VR technology is at the forefront. Virtual tours are helping buyers become more confident in their choices by immersing themselves in their dream home with the options for customization available at the press of a button. As your trusted technology partner, it is imperative that we remain current with the newest technologies. We are passionate about working with you to integrate the most cutting-edge technology into your website to equip you with an extremely robust and powerful platform. So, is it time to look forward into the world of virtual tours, together?
- The OpenHouse.ai Team