Jing Xue, chief operating officer and co-founder of DecorMatters

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the real estate industry – delivering both new opportunities and unprecedented setbacks. While in-person viewings have been limited and the supply chain has been disrupted, the crisis has actually forced people to gain a new appreciation for the importance of home.

After spending so much time indoors, many consumers are now seeking to invest in new properties. Despite uncertain markets, houses are selling at a faster rate compared to the same time last year, while more people are contemplating moving because of the pandemic.

For an industry that’s traditionally built on physical meetings, real estate has adjusted to recent conditions and is utilizing technology to stay afloat and succeed in the new normal. In particular, virtual reality (VR) is being adopted for walkthroughs, 3D mapping, and drone surveys of residential properties. VR has been so well-received that there are now signs it could be leveraged on a long-term basis in real estate. Here’s why:

Accelerating sales

VR was being used for real estate tours by companies like Redfin prior to the pandemic, however, COVID-19 has accelerated its application. For tours, VR can provide a 360-degree view of a property, 3D floor plans, and an interactive experience of the location. In fact, the real estate virtual tour software market is now predicted to see exponential growth in the coming years.

The benefits of VR tours is that prospective buyers and renters can view properties directly from devices like computers, tablets, and phones. VR tours can shape an instant sense of ownership, in which owners can immediately envision themselves in the home. An added perk is that people don’t have to see the physical place to be convinced to strike a deal. Meanwhile, VR allows estate agents to have a 24/7 open house, with no restrictions on viewings or time clashes – ultimately maximizing the client pool.

Elements of VR can be included in real estate agents’ wider marketing strategy too – especially now that tools like Matterport’s 3D data platform have made VR more accessible and affordable. Estate agents can showcase properties that are not yet finished, as well as project a furnished interior for unfurnished buildings. Not to mention, digital walkthroughs can be replayed from any angel and can be a futuristic content addition to brokers’ websites. Already, real estate agents that advertise using drone shots of homes sell 68 percent faster because of the more comprehensive visual presentation of a property. The potential for VR to boost that figure even more is huge.

Full immersion

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in both an aversion to human contact when avoidable and increased familiarity with digital tools amongst the population. When buying or renting a house, people are therefore better prepared to complete the whole process online.

Because of VR’s versatility, it allows people to explore a property in detail and to actively engage with what they see. For example, clients can test items in specific spaces to make sure they fit with the room’s dimensions and overall aesthetic. VR also makes any property deals more transparent, as clients are fully aware of the condition, size, and location of the home.

VR in real estate is powerful because it poses advantages for both clients and realtors. It contributes to higher sales success, plus a more accessible experience with greater transparency. Similarly, it makes listings and pitches much more compelling, and portrays individual sellers who are embracing advanced technology in a positive light. Likewise, with virtual reality, people don’t have to repeatedly welcome or visit strangers, and so aren’t disrupted during the search process.

Although VR adoption has been an effective way for real estate to adapt in COVID-19, it will no doubt reach a stage where it’s a permanent part of the industry. Many sectors are choosing to embrace VR, and to keep ahead of the curve, real estate is demonstrating that it can pivot with modern and new solutions for clients.

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