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Virtual reality comes to real estate

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An innovative new approach to open homes, offered by a Palmerston North real estate company, pairs Google’s 3D goggles with virtual tour software to make open home viewing an almost real-life experience for home buyers. The VR technology is new to the real estate market with huge potential.

Watson Real Estate Ltd’s business development manager Greg Watson says the real estate company is the first in New Zealand to provide the high-resolution 3D virtual reality tours, using technology originally developed for gaming.

The technology means you can virtually ‘walk’ through an open home, pause in any room you like, look out of the windows, even take a wander through the garden - all from the comfort of your own couch at home.

"With these virtual reality tours, people can experience the house as if standing in it themselves," Watson says. "You can choose what you look at and where you stand in the house."

Watson says that virtual tours are already widely available from real estate and property management companies for properties they list online, but no one yet offers the "immersive experience" of feeling like you’re inside the room seeing it in 3D.

Three-dimensional viewing is displayed on a smart phone through a compatible app, which is then placed in a specially made Google cardboard viewer that Watson Real Estate provides free to potential home buyers.

When viewers turn their heads, they can look around the room, up at the ceiling or at the floor. Prompts on the screen allow you to ‘walk’ in to rooms, turn around or go outside and get a 360 view of the garden.

Watson says the experience also brings more truth to viewing properties because the imagery is mapped using a wire mesh to provide a realistic model and accurate measurements.

"There are no misleading wide angles, unlike traditional home staging photography, and you can be the judge of what condition the house is in and how big the rooms are, before going to see it."

Watson says the technology has huge benefit for out-of-town buyers, or anyone wanting to save time searching for a home. The Google viewers can be couriered to any location upon request.

He says the new technology is dramatically changing how homes and rental properties are marketed, saving potential buyers the hassle of travelling to, and attending, multiple open homes.

Buyers can make buying decisions from home and put a property on their short list.

"Imagine if you were a resident in Auckland and moving to the Manawatu, you can instantly see if the lounge is too small, it allows you to decide if it’s worth another look - before travelling beyond your front door."

He says the technology also offers real value for sellers because those that do visit an open home in person are serious by then.

Greg Watson, who is also the company’s property management division manager, says the technology has applications for commercial businesses and renters, too.

"We have rental properties that are fully furnished, so with this technology people can take the tour and see what the furniture looks like."

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