The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges to the real estate industry, which is primarily reliant on agents to organise property roadshows for new developments and facilitate physical visits, communication and transaction terms between a homeowner and a potential buyer for resale flats. During the early days of the pandemic, governments of countries worldwide imposed lockdowns, restrictions and safe distancing measures to stem the tide of infections, causing inconvenience for agents to organise property roadshows for new developments or schedule in-person viewings for resale flats. In a bid to stimulate the economy and prevent an economic recession during a drawn-out pandemic, central banks have reduced interest rates. The low-interest rate environment makes borrowing money cheaper as a potential homebuyer can get a cheaper loan from the bank to buy a property. This creates a huge demand since the borrowing cost is lower, thus driving the real estate market and boosting asset prices.
Despite the real-world inconvenience caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Extended Reality (XR) industry is booming. The global XR market size reached 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and is estimated to rise to over 250 billion U.S. dollars by 2028 (Alsop, 2022). Given the projected increase in the market size and improvements to XR and its accessibility, agents can leverage VR to show homes to buyers and gain more exposure for their listings. One company that leverages the benefits of VR technologies in real estate is Atlas Bay VR.
Atlas Bay VR: Virtual Reality (VR) for Real Estate
Atlas Bay VR uses VR technologies to deliver solutions and services for real estate developers and marketing and property managers. They can custom-make high-end VR experiences that can be delivered to clients or customers on HTC Vive, which comprises a room-scale headset and tracked controllers. There are various attractive features in this idea, which makes it engaging. However, there is also some scope for improvement.
Why do I like it?
I like this idea because it enables us to experience a computer-generated simulation of a real estate property without being physically present there. We can experience how the property would look and feel even before it has been completely constructed. This way, we can try different property layouts for an apartment and make an informed decision about which of these would be best even before these layouts are implemented. This would save both time and money.
Why is it engaging?
This would be quite an engaging experience because, although it is a simulation of reality, we feel as if we are gaining real experiences of performing various activities. These include opening doors and entering different rooms, customising things such as changing the colours of walls, seating on the couch and getting outdoor views of an apartment from the different storeys of the building.
What features are well done and what can be improved?
The application is well-implemented because it provides the users with the ability to perceive how the property would appear if they change the layouts according to their choice. However, further improvements can be made by adding features to make the experience of customisation more flexible. Currently, only simple customisations, such as changing a wallpaper are allowed. The customer may want to experience more customisations, such as putting some furnishings. Since an apartment is usually handed over to the customer without any furnishings, it would be beneficial for customers to have first-hand experience in furnishing the apartment virtually, as this adds a personal touch to their apartment viewing before deciding whether the floor plan of the apartment is suitable for their design aspirations.
XR technologies allow users to perceive various scenarios in digital simulations in such a way that the perception is quite close to real-world experiences. These technologies are successfully being used by some real estate companies, such as Atlas Bay. The users can experience how a property would look and feel even before it has been completely constructed and can also perceive how some changes in the layouts would appear. A further improvement can be made by adding features to make the experience of customization more flexible. With advancements in science and technology, it is expected that there would be more applications of XR technologies.
Alsop, T. (2022, July 27). AR/VR market size worldwide 2021-2028. Statista. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/591181/global-augmented-virtual-reality-market-size/
Atlas Bay VR. (n.d.). Virtual Reality. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://www.atlasbayvr.com/services/virtual-reality