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Virtual reality: transforming the real estate experience

At the start of the year, real estate giant Coldwell Banker released the findings of a US poll. 77% of participants stated they would prefer to take a virtual reality tour of a property before viewing it in person. In the luxury sector, where transactions are often done on a global scale, VR is becoming an attractive tool for buyers and agents alike.

Virtual reality uses a computer-generated scenario to create a life-like experience for the user, who can explore the artificial world the scenario presents and even interact with certain items. For real estate, VR can build up a realistic picture of the interior and exterior of a property that a potential buyer can move around it and discover for themselves. Advocates say it is almost as convincing as the real thing. 

As the Coldwell Banker study interviewed American nationals rather than French or European, it would be easy to argue that the results would be different in France or even Monaco – countries that are only now embracing geoanalysis tools like CityScan for an improved real estate experience. However, the overwhelming support for VR revealed in the 2018 survey conducted by Harris Poll in the US is impressive. Nearly four out of five respondents said they would appreciate being able to take a VR tour of a property before a physical visit; 68% would like to use the technology to see what their furniture would look like in a prospective home; and 62% said they would be more likely to choose an agent who offered VR tours as a service for potential buyers than one who did not.

Within the luxury real estate industry, Sotheby’s has led the way in moving towards VR technology. The international agency incidentally also commissioned 360° and 3D experiences of four of the greatest Surrealist paintings in 2017, allowing gallery visitors to explore works such as Salvador Dalí’s Moment de Transition as if they were real and even look ‘beyond’ the paint to discover imagined elements. It began experimenting with VR technology in real estate three years ago in the US, but is yet to roll out the service across its portfolio.

Virtual tours and visits save time for both the client and the agent… It allows us to capture every corner of the property and view it from the agency or even the client’s home. We’re able to take a property to the client – rather than vice versa.

Even for the most luxurious – and expensive –properties in the south of France, it is difficult to find an agency that has embraced VR. In Cagnes-sur-Mer’s Polygone Riviera shopping centre, however, the recently launched Maison K has begun integrating VR into its exclusive mandate packages.

“We’ve been using VR since we opened six months ago,” says Kristina Krupska, the owner of Maison K, which also includes professional photography, home staging and full marketing support if the agency is given exclusivity.

More and more of her high-end clients are foreign or based outside of the region: ‘long-distance clients’. She uses modern visual tools such as VR to put together a very precise and relevant selection of properties according to their needs so that when they arrive at her agency, no time is wasted with more travelling. “Virtual tours and visits save time for both the client and the agent… It allows us to capture every corner of the property and view it from the agency or even the client’s home. We’re able to take a property to the client – rather than vice versa,” she explains. “It changes the real estate experience because clients are able to project themselves onto a potential buy, which speeds up the decision-making process. The strength of VR is that it often increases a client’s passion for a property. Compared to standard photographs and videos, with VR, you experience a property as if you were really there!”

 

EC

*Originally published in the #177 edition of Riviera Insider