Like many other industries, the real estate market has suffered amid the Covid-19 pandemic. At the height of the outbreak, home sales dropped to their lowest level since the 2007-2008 financial crisis. While the market is performing much better now, the industry faces several significant shifts.
Property technology, or proptech, can help the real estate industry adapt to changing trends that Covid-19 accelerated. Over the past few years, the sector has become increasingly tech-centric, and this trend will help realtors stay ahead. Perhaps the most valuable of these technologies for success in the post-Covid market is virtual reality (VR).
The use of VR in real estate is far from new. The technology has long been one of proptech’s leading solutions. In the current state of the industry, though, these tools are more valuable than ever. Throughout the next few years, VR will become less of an advantage and more a necessity.
VR helped real estate agents survive the pandemic, and it will be crucial to the market afterward, too. Here’s a closer look at the technology and how it will sustain this industry in the coming years.
VR in pre-pandemic real estate
The real estate industry recognized the value of VR long before the first signs of Covid-19. As early as 2018, roughly 25% of company managers predicted that the use of VR in businesses would be commonplace within 10 years. While it hasn’t necessarily become “commonplace” in the industry yet, it’s far from rare.
Most applications for VR in real estate revolve around property showings. With VR headsets, realtors can give potential buyers tours without having to go to the property itself. This expands what real estate companies can show to clients and helps reach new, physically distant customers.
While these features are undoubtedly beneficial, they failed to drive widespread adoption among realtors in the past. In-person tours and showings remained the industry standard, either out of tradition or costs. As of 2019, gaming and entertainment still dominated the VR market, but other use cases were rising.
The pandemic has changed things. If businesses across all industries have learned one thing through Covid-19, it’s the value of digital transformation. Those that can’t capitalize on new technologies will likely not survive the pandemic. In real estate, VR is at the center of this transformation.
Even now, as the industry is recovering from its pandemic lows, VR provides a path forward. Covid-19 has spurred several trends among homebuyers that this technology can help capitalize on. Here’s how.
VR provides personalised experiences
Experts expect housing demand to rise after the pandemic. Many buyers have put off purchasing homes due to economic pressure, so more will be ready to buy as the economy recovers. Every real estate agent will want to take advantage of this eager consumer base, so they need an edge to stand out.
Despite this recovery, U.S. consumers will likely spend less in virtually every category compared to pre-pandemic averages. Any company, including real estate businesses, will have to make a better impression on consumers to make sales. VR provides realtors with the tools they need to do just that.
VR can provide tailored tours of properties, even showing what potential buyers’ own furniture would look like in the space. Since it’s virtual, realtors can include models of any object in the digital mock-up. This personalisation helps reach prospective buyers on a deeper level, increasing the chances of a sale.
Personalization demonstrates that a company understands and even cares about a customer’s needs. Clients who feel seen and respected are much more likely to come back or recommend a service. Consequently, using VR to offer hyper-personalized house tours not only increases the chance of a sale but can lead to further sales in the future.
Clients can also interact with virtual models in a way that wouldn’t be possible with an in-person tour. With a VR tour, potential buyers can move furniture throughout the house or simulate different environments. This level of interaction is far more engaging than a traditional showing, and engaged consumers are more likely to buy.
VR Helps Sell Unfinished Properties
One of the most significant real estate trends after Covid-19 is a move toward the suburbs and smaller towns. The work-from-home revolution is driving a mass migration away from some cities, so there may be demand for areas with fewer available homes. Since 16 states stopped some or all construction projects amid the pandemic, this may pose a challenge.
Realtors will have to sell buildings before they’re complete, which VR makes easier. With VR, realtors can show digital models of what these properties will look like once finished. The virtual models can use the same dimensions as the actual worksite, giving customers an accurate idea of the final building.
Relying on the virtual instead of the physical lets realtors show and sell properties during the construction phase. As a result, the time between construction and closing becomes drastically shorter. New property owners won’t have to wait as long to move in, and realtors can fill buildings faster.
Potential customers aren’t the only people who can use VR in this process, either. Adhering to compliance standards is a crucial part of managing a property, and inspectors can use VR to look at projects remotely. Not having to be on-location enables quicker inspections, and real estate companies can ensure compliance before it becomes a more pressing issue.
All of these use cases translate into realtors making sales faster than ever before. They can fill homes in these new hot spots quicker, taking advantage of this migration.
VR addresses lingering health concerns
Even as vaccine rollouts continue and Covid-19 fades, many people may still have health concerns. After a medical crisis as extreme as this, the public will approach their health differently. A Deloitte survey found that 80% of American consumers plan to keep using virtual health visits, which could translate into other industries.
If people are uncomfortable being close to strangers, they won’t want to go on traditional house tours. With VR showings, they don’t have to. Real estate companies can meet with clients virtually since you don’t have to be in the same room to go on the same digital tour.
Prospective buyers can look through homes without leaving the one they’re in now. Realtors can even use platforms that use computers or phones, so clients don’t need a VR headset to go on a tour. VR can work on a wide variety of technologies, giving realtors more reach.
VR-powered remote house tours have use cases beyond complying with consumer health concerns, too. Remote access expands the clientele pool that realtors can reach. Companies could show properties to consumers across the country who want to move soon, which is more likely to happen after the pandemic.
These accommodations will help agents stand out in a growing market. A surge in homebuyers means more diverse consumer segments, and these tools will help meet these diverse needs.
Proptech like VR will sustain growing real estate markets
Proptech has been a saving grace for real estate agents amid the pandemic, and it will continue to be helpful afterward. As the industry booms and becomes more competitive, it’ll help adopters stand out among the crowd. Among proptech solutions, VR stands as the option with the greatest potential.
VR provides unmatched efficiency and versatility, making it ideal for the post Covid-19 market. If realtors can take advantage of this technology, they can meet shifting homebuyer trends and stay competitive. The industry may have been cautiously optimistic about VR before, but after Covid-19, this technology could shape the sector.