7 Things You Didn’t Know About Augmented Reality and Real Estate

As real estate and technology are growing closer together, augmented reality and virtual reality are sliding into the industry easier and faster than other software products. This has brought on a few challenges and debates that we tackled with the help of roOomy’s Taylor Wilding.
Virtual staging with roOomy software

Virtual staging with roOomy software

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are making their way into real estate, paving their way to becoming a necessity for the marketing and leasing agents of the future. The end customer will ultimately benefit from these technological advancements as they will be able make more informed decisions in the purchase of new homes or furnishing products and signing new leases. Taylor Wilding, business development director at roOomy, revealed seven things that are currently valid when it comes to AR and VR in real estate.

Using AR in real estate doesn’t mean higher costs. Au contraire

Wilding: While there will be an associated cost when it comes to utilizing AR across both the multifamily and single-family industries, a homeowner, real estate agent or property management company would utilize the technology to virtually stage a home or community, so they likely wouldn’t need to worry about the physical staging costs—which can run between one and three percent of a typical listing price.

In addition, VR and AR can also help pad the bottom line of property management companies, as the need for model units decreases with the use of AR. The elimination of just one model unit can provide upwards of a $30,000 swing, factoring in the cost of furniture rental or purchase, as well as lost rent from the unit remaining vacant. With the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in the U.S. hovering around $1,700 per month, the annual rent lost is north of $20,000 alone. The virtualized method of staging a home is significantly less expensive and provides a higher level of convenience.

AR is more accessible than you think

Wilding: Virtual and augmented reality have long been a discussion amongst real estate professionals. The VR hardware has been there, although it’s rather expensive, but available nonetheless. The content has been a bit behind with respect to VR outside of the gaming industry. Both retail and real estate are natural fits when it comes to content for both VR and AR.

Taylor Wilding,  business development director at roOomy

Taylor Wilding, business development director at roOomy

Over the last few years—and especially within the past few months—we are beginning to see a shift occur with the more mainstream use cases of AR. With ARKit and ARCore, the need for expensive, specialized AR hardware is a thing of the past, making the technology vastly more accessible across Google and Apple smartphone devices. As Apple and Google put AR capabilities in millions of pockets by the end of the year, the adoption rate is sure to see exponential growth. Ultimately, the limited adoption of both VR and AR in the real estate industry was due to the same issue as any other market, whether it be retail, healthcare etc.: there was a lack of a cost-effective, mainstream tool to bring AR to the everyday person. This is no longer the case and every industry will see a rather significant change within the coming weeks as ARKit officially rolls out.

AR and VR in real estate have a tangible $75 billion future

Wilding: We’re only expecting it to increase. With ARKit and ARCore now bringing the technology to the pockets of millions of people, the technology has a much more tangible future and should have a profound impact on every industry, including real estate. Additionally, analysts are forecasting that the VR and AR industries will be worth $75 billion by 2021, making the future extremely bright.

AR platforms will become a necessity

Wilding: AR technology is already available for real estate professionals and the everyday home shopper/seller via mobile phones like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro featuring Google Tango. Often, app developers, like ourselves, have needed to partner with AR software providers, such as Google Tango, to allow our AR services to be fully-accessible. And, while this is a valuable service, more accessible AR platforms that break down the visualization barriers that exist in both the purchase or home furnishings and real estate alike will be necessary towards the advancement of this technology.

It looks like ARKit and ARCore should be available within the next few months, notably with the launch of the newest iOS software, which should mark the true explosion in mobile AR. ARCore is available today for the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8, while ARKit will be available with the release of iOS 11 for iPhone 6S and later.

AR will complement, not replace certain processes in the industry

Wilding: I’m not sure that AR will ever completely replace traditional modeling or infrastructure design processes in the architecture or real estate marketing fields, but I do think it is rapidly becoming a complementary component to these operations. With that said, one area where we see AR overcoming traditional methods of the past is home staging. AR and VR technology present a much more cost- and time-effective alternative to physical staging and add a unique personalization component that cannot be captured by physically installing furniture at an open house or within a model unit. For example, through VR and AR, homes can be virtually staged in multiple styles or functions to cater to a specific home purchasing demographic—whether it be the millennial couple looking for their first apartment together or the empty nester looking to downsize to an amenity-rich apartment community.

Virtual staging with roOomy software

Virtual staging with roOomy software

AR won’t eliminate real estate jobs

Wilding: Not at all. People shared this same sentiment when chatbots first came on the market—meaning that they would eliminate customer services jobs. AR won’t eliminate jobs. Instead, it will do quite the opposite by making real estate professionals more successful and efficient when it comes to doing their jobs. AR has the potential to supplement job functions to allow these real estate professionals to provide a more catered, unique experience and help break down that visual barrier that often plagues the industry. The element of choice allows for the development of an emotional connection to the home by “virtually” moving in and arranging home furnishings to fit their lifestyle.

The real estate professionals that incorporate leading technologies, like AR and VR, into their everyday operations will be the ones that benefit. Eventually, the end customer will reap the ultimate benefits as they will make a much more informed and educated decision in the purchase of new home furnishing products in the lease or purchase of their next home.

AR will be beneficial for renters and buyers

Wilding: AR will be beneficial for both renting and selling in the real estate industry. Perspective is difficult to gain while house/apartment hunting, with 90 percent of consumers lacking the ability to envision themselves within a space. For that reason, anyone that would like to unlock the potential of a property and begin “seeing” themselves turning the house or apartment into their home will benefit from virtual staging in both VR and AR.

Images courtesy of roOomy