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How VR Technology is Transforming the Luxury Home Shopping Experience

The luxury home market is booming this year, riding on the strong momentum that closed out the end of 2017. Luxury home prices rose 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to 6 percent for non-luxury homes. Short supply, stock market gains and consumer confidence are helping drive the luxury housing boom, which isn’t expected to let up anytime soon.

One tool helping homeowners and realtors capitalize on this thriving market is virtual reality (VR). Here’s a look at how immersive VR technology is transforming the luxury home buying experience.

Virtual Reality Tours

Sotheby’s International Realty is one of the firms that has helped bring virtual reality into the luxury home selling mainstream over the past few years by offering online VR tours. Visitors to the company’s website can tour homes in a 3-D format for non-VR users and in VR format for users with the requisite equipment.

Sotheby’s visitors can click on an interactive video to virtually tour properties from multiple perspectives. Much like in a video game, users without VR equipment can see the properties from a first-person perspective, from an aerial floor plan view, or from a “dollhouse” perspective that shows rooms in miniature. Users with Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR headsets can select additional options to experience an immersive view of the property in full 360-degree realism that adjusts perspective as the user tilts their head.

Making VR Tours Possible

To make VR luxury home tours possible, companies such as Sotheby’s strategically place cameras throughout a property in order to assemble the footage necessary to construct a 3-D view. Drone footage can add spectacular bird’s-eye views of property exteriors as well as unique views of interiors. In addition, a couple other pieces of supporting technology are needed.

An essential piece of equipment is a VR headset. Headsets come in two major varieties: mobile and tethered. Mobile headsets are wearable shells with a space to insert a smartphone for viewing through lenses, while tethered headsets are connected by a wire to a PC. Mobile headsets are less expensive and enjoy the advantage of not requiring a wire, while tethered sets cost more but have the advantage of higher image quality due to the ability to tap into a PC’s resources. Today’s best VR headsets include the Sony PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Google Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR.

Because virtual reality consumes an enormous amount of memory to create realistic images, a VR headset needs support from a suitable device. To allow mobile devices to handle VR, cutting-edge mobile platforms such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon have been specially designed to not only support virtual reality but also provide a much more immersive experience than users are used to. Additional features of this technology include enhanced camera functionality, long battery life and superior connectivity among other benefits.

How VR Helps Home Sellers

For homeowners and realtors seeking to sell luxury properties, VR technology offers several advantages over traditional sales methods. With 51 percent of homes that are sold now found on the internet, it’s essential to have an effective online marketing strategy. Virtual reality is one of the few online marketing tactics that appeal to luxury home buyers, generating meaningful engagement with internet home shoppers.

VR also helps create a more persuasive sales presentation, says Village Features, a company that helps create VR tours for luxury real estate sales brands. Having a VR presentation available makes home sellers stand out from competitors who don’t, providing an immediate branding advantage. It also enables remote prospects to experience a realistic virtual walkthrough of a property, comparable to the way successful car sales representatives offer test drives. In conjunction with animation technology, VR can even be used to give realistic tours of properties that haven’t been built yet, allowing prospects to see how a concept would look when completed.

By making it possible for homeowners and realtors to offer online prospects realistic remote tours of properties, virtual reality is revolutionizing the luxury home-buying experience. Home buyers can now view luxury properties located anywhere in the world without leaving their current home. Home sellers who take advantage of this technical capability hold a competitive edge, making it likely that VR tours will increasingly become the norm for tomorrow’s luxury home market.

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