Recently I had the opportunity to try a virtual reality headset sent from a manufacturer for evaluation, and I was blown away. As a luxury real estate agent in Marin County, my mind immediately jumped to how this will likely transform the home buying experience — and the entire real estate industry — in the coming years. After a few false starts (whatever happened to 3D television?), it seems like immersive virtual reality is coming soon.
Already one enterprising Los Angeles real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty has been experimenting with using virtual reality to showcase his higher-end home listings. It is a natural fit, especially in the luxury real estate market where buyers are located around the world, not around the block. Just this week in Marin, a $13.5 million home reportedly went into escrow — sight unseen — to out-of-town buyers based largely on the property photos and videos. Imagine the real estate marketing possibilities of virtual reality.
Virtual Reality and Real Estate – What Is It!??
For those of us who have just figured out some of the settings on their iPhones, the possibility of another electronic device in our lives may be a little daunting. However, virtual reality, like the iPhone, has the potential to revolutionize not just real estate, but our lives.
A virtual reality headset is a device that you strap on your head, and you look through two round lenses, much like binoculars. What is projected inside the headset can be anything — a game, a movie, a tour of the Smithsonian — you name it. The Syfy Channel has just announced an upcoming crime drama series made for the Oculus Rift, probably the most famous and most hyped virtual reality headset, to be released later this year. The possibilities are endless.
Buying homes — which is a very sensory experience — is a natural fit. Imagine wearing this headset in the comfort of your home, and viewing the three homes your favorite Marin real estate agent (I’m hoping that’s me) has sent you to review. From the comfort of your sofa, you are able to (virtually) walk up the driveway, turn your head to look around, left to see neighboring homes, behind you to see the house across the street, straight up to watch a bird soaring high above. Once inside you can look around rooms, look inside closets, perhaps even look under the bed. Out in the garden you can listen to the waterfall, and hear children playing in the yard next door. You control what you see, from start to finish.
You can see why virtual reality and real estate are a match made in heaven.
So how is this different from a 3D movie? It’s that aspect of control and autonomy. With a virtual reality headset, you decide where you look and what you want to see by turning your head. You can look up, down, left, right — anywhere — just like in life…. hence the term virtual reality. If you’re watching a movie, the director decides what to show you.
This technology is in its infancy but I predict it will spread quickly. Already many major players in the technology industry are working on this. The Google Cardboard set – which you can make yourself from kits available on the internet – allows you to experience rudimentary virtual reality at a very low cost. The Samsung Gear is currently on sale for $99 — but requires a Samsung smart phone to work. Both serve as a means to display content on your phone in a whole new way. (Those of us around a while may remember the View-Master toy – which has now been re-designed and re-launched as…. you guessed it… a virtual reality headset).
Other manufacturers are working on standalone headsets that will contain all the electronics necessary to watch virtual reality content — no smart phone required. The aforementioned Oculus Rift is one example. Google is reportedly working on their response to Samsung’s Gear headset. Of course, highly-secretive Apple is also working on a virtual reality solution, but my friends there adopt poker faces and change the subject when I inquire about it.
As you can tell from this article, I am very excited about the potential marriage of virtual reality and real estate. I plan to remain abreast of this technology and hope to utilize this for my Marin County luxury home sellers in the coming months and years. In the meantime, I am proud of the current creative technologies and strategies I use to sell homes in Marin County and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your real estate needs. Feel free to call or text me at 415/847-5584 or complete the contact form below. I will be in touch virtually right away!
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