Imagine your clients touring a multifamily unit in California … only there’s something different about their experience.
They walk with ease through all of the rooms, taking in the unit’s space and size and can even view some of the community’s many amenities and smart home technologies. Then they take off their virtual reality headset and they’re back in New York City.
But it doesn’t matter—they’re already sold.
Sound like a pipe dream? Think again. The power of virtual reality is closer than we think and evolving every day, slowly integrating itself into the multifamily market. It’s giving homebuyers, anywhere in the world, the ability to view communities they otherwise would not get the chance to experience aside from two-dimensional photos.
Virtual tours offer a new and innovative way to use tech to sell tech, and builders should be paying just as much attention as realtors and consumers.
“Multifamily is at its height right now, not only in building but in renting. And that means the competition is higher than ever,” says Steve Barnes of Barnes Creative Studios, a best-in-class provider of 3D virtual tours for multifamily and luxury travel.
Entering the Third Dimension
In order to better market multifamily, builders need to set themselves apart from the competition.
Think about it! You have a homebuyer looking to move from New York to Atlanta, and he’s looking at dozens of communities, and maybe one or two of them have 3D virtual tours. Those virtual tours are going to be more attractive to the buyer than just seeing photos, because they can visualize themselves living in that spot. And more importantly, a virtual tour can showcase smart home technology much more effectively.
As Barnes emphasizes, virtual tours utilize 3D representations. “What you see is what you get. You can no longer hide behind the one-dimensional marketing of old,” he says.
His company offers a cheaper and more effective solution to touring communities than Google’s Business View, which is powered by their Street View technology. “We’re capturing data—tons and tons of data. Google, they’re just capturing panoramic photos and that’s a dead end,” says Barnes. “It’s a huge difference and it’s a lot cheaper than Google.”
Sean Henry—managing partner, southwest of Moran & Company—has been utilizing 3D virtual tours for his multifamily units for a year now. He says the impact this technology has had on his business is massive, and he now has clients leasing units before they even see them in person. They will be able to experience everything from the apartment’s design to the connected systems within it.
“A lot of our buyers are from out of state, so virtual tours ensure that these properties are something worthy of their time,” says Henry.
Building “Behind a Sheet of Glass”
On the other end of the spectrum, Ron Schon of Schon Creative sees another solution for virtual tour technology—being able to tour a facility before it is even constructed.
Schon Creative is a full-service video production studio that specializes in animation. For real estate specifically, the company specializes in CG (computer graphics) for projects that are not yet completed in order to “pre-sell, pre-lease and pre-market a property.”
Schon calls himself a virtual general contractor who works from the architect and interior design team’s plans to “build” the development.
“The only difference is we build it behind a sheet of glass, while of course it will eventually be built in the ground by a general contractor. So we use exactly the same plans and designs that will be used to construct projects, we just build it in three dimensions,” he says.
This provides builders with opportunities to visualize and better market their smart home projects to clients. Schon says these tours are “100 percent representational of the finished product,” albeit a few tweaks that may be made design-wise such as wallpaper color or type of furniture. Even tech will be featured in these renderings.
“It gives the developer and the leasing team confidence to be able to say to the renter, ‘What you are looking at on our website is exactly what it’s going to look like when you move in.’ That closes the deal,” says Schon.
The Future of the Virtual Tour
Where is this technology headed? Somewhere special, according to those already using it.
Barnes says that his 3D tours currently have the ability to be converted to virtual reality headset technology Oculus Rift, and that many of his clients are already taking advantage of this for their multifamily communities. He calls it a complete difference maker for marketing.
“We’ve been doing it for about a year, and every month more people are embracing it, because they want [the tours] to show exactly what you’re going to expect when you get there,” says Barnes.
Schon sees the future of virtual tours growing as well, saying that as soon as the technology catches up, people won’t even have to leave their homes to shop for and purchase a new one.
“Whether they’re going to put on a pair of goggles or whether a video is going to be projected into space holographically, it will be so real that they will be completely immersed in the experience,” he says.
Regardless of whether it is used for visualizing, touring tech, building or marketing, virtual reality in the multifamily market is certainly on a steady incline, and it will only continue to rise.
Builders, what do you think of this technology? Do you use it for your projects? Would you ever consider using it? Let us know in the comment section below!