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Has VR finally found its killer application in the real estate market?

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

VR could be a real draw for prospective home buyers.

Virtual Reality (VR) has been touted as the ‘next big thing’ in marketing for longer than most of us can remember, but it appears that, after several false starts, the technology has finally found an application with mass practical and commercial appeal: helping people to buy property.

On average, prospective home buyers view 5.8 properties but VR tours are now allowing customers to view an unlimited number of properties in a small space of time from anywhere.

In fact, the trend landed the second spot on the ‘Forbes 23 Bulletproof Real Estate Marketing Ideas’ published earlier this year. They cite the use of 3D Matterport technology - a step up from simple video walkthroughs by offering an entirely realistic representation of a potential home - as a must for staying ahead in the property marketing sector. The unique selling point is, of course, buyers can see what a space looks like in person without actually stepping foot in the property.

A virtual tour provides a full insight and allows buyers to view multiple homes to strict time restraints without even leaving the agent's office. Another key selling point to implementing the technology is that it allows developers to show potential buyers fully finished properties regardless of the stage in the building process. It’s interactive and personal. Interiors and finishes can be tailored to specific buyers to show them their dream home in its entirety in a matter of minutes.

Taking a small step down from a full VR experience, Matterport have also come up with a 3D camera which is by far one of the simplest and most effective tools to deliver on trend immersive content. Piecing together individual photos of a property to give a full 360 degree view - the footage can then be viewed as a regular video or in VR format.

The innovative trend not only increases engagement but it’s proven to have a positive impact on customer brand experience. With 73% of homeowners agreeing they are more likely to list with an estate agent who offers to create a video for them, the potential to boost this figure through successful VR implementation is unparalleled.

On-page engagement can be boosted by up to 300% by featuring an immersive virtual tour. 3D video and virtual reality open house visits fulfil the buyers desire for instancy and ease in viewing multiple properties increasing customer satisfaction through real time marketing and eliminating time wasted by travel.

Virtual reality and immersive content is truly revolutionising the sector and the benefits to producing these forward thinking VR experiences far outweigh the costs.

Today, the use of VR in property alone is already being valued at a $1bn industry globally with Goldman Sachs estimating this figure will have trebled by 2020.

In the end, the success of VR home viewings will be decided by the preferences of consumers. Forbes recognises that in spite of the innovative technology, 2D video walkthroughs remain one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of property marketers, landing the 4th spot on their ‘Bulletproof’ list.

The coveted top spot once again, however, was a professional looking website.

Natalie Walsh is a copywriter with Cuckoo

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