Most of the real estate marketing innovation happens in the luxury home sector first. Top luxury real estate agents are always looking for a better way to tell the story of a home in a visually compelling and emotional way. We have talked about the power of video in real estate marketing in previous posts, and the dramatic use of luxury real estate marketing with drones. Along with these two innovations, elite luxury agents know how to leverage social media, paid-for organic advertising, and search engine optimization to maximize exposure for their listings. But just over the horizon is the next disrupter: virtual reality. Here is a quick introduction on how virtual reality will be tapped in the future to take luxury home marketing to the next level.
Virtual Reality Basics
For the virtual reality experience to work, you need both VR content and a VR viewer. Content is created with sophisticated and innovative cameras that work to map an entire 360 degree viewing experience. Once the virtual content is there, it can be viewed by consumers in several ways: by using your cell phone, by using a separate VR viewer and cell phone combination (like Google Cardboard), or by using a standalone device like the Oculus Rift. At $15, Google Cardboard is the most prolific and cheapest way to experience virtual reality content. The companion Google Cardboard App for iPhone delivers some basic VR content for beginners, and also acts as a conduit for other third-party VR Apps to deliver even more interactive content.
Virtual Reality Videos
The most basic application of virtual content in luxury real estate is by shooting a virtual reality 360 degree tour of a property, then uploading it to YouTube. There, mobile users can view the video directly inside the YouTube App and pan up, down, and all around to see a complete virtual tour of the property video as it plays. An example of this application is this Ryan Serhant video tour of a Manhattan luxury home below. In a mobile-dominated world, and with more VR video content being created every day, this type of application will eventually become standard. In fact, since 2015, YouTube has been hosting 360 VR video content, with a dedicated YouTube 360 Video Channel where you can see all the different ways it is being used.
Virtual Reality Showrooms
The best application for VR technology in real estate lies in its ability to bring a luxury home directly to a buyer, wherever they are, even thousands of miles away. Consider this a “reverse showing” of sorts (and give me credit for this phrase if it goes viral!). Already Sotheby’s luxury home agents in California are using VR to show homes to overseas buyers. For new construction homes, VR offers builders and developers the ability to showcase future product in a more interactive and emotional way. You can walk through a future single family home as if you’re physical there, moving from to room, seeing how the daylight comes in, taking in the views, and looking at the finishes.
Or as with the new Edge 28 Condos in Sydney, Australia, you can immerse yourself in a future luxury condo unit years before it is even built, see how it looks in daylight and at dusk, see condo views from various floors, and experience the rooftop deck. And all this can be done from the comfort of the buyer’s home, or from a high end VR device the the Oculus Rift inside a showroom for the future home or condo project. The possibilities are endless!
Virtual Reality Apps
On this last point, let me offer you two very early VR real estate apps for iPhone that you should definitely check out. The first is the BDX App for iPhone, recently released as a demo at the 2016 International Builder’s Convention in Las Vegas. And the second is a branded app released by the developer of the Edge 28 project noted above, called the Edge 28 App for iPhone. Both of these apps with with Google Cardboard, and will allow you to interact with the luxury environments that you are immersed in.
As with all new technologies, it will take time for virtual reality to catch on with the masses. But for the moment, VR content allows luxury real estate marketers to further differentiate themselves from their competition, and reach luxury home buyers in compelling and emotional ways. Please comment if there are other VR applications for luxury real estate that you are seeing out there, on the edge!