Virtual Reality (VR) is a hot topic at the moment, not just in property, but many different industries. It’s providing new and unique experiences, many of which have so far been unattainable (especially if you’re using high-end VR hardware). But does it have a lasting worth? Does it show value beyond the initial use and can it really help purchasers make their decision process shorter and easier?

Let’s set the scene here: VR is still in its very infant stages. Many people have not used the technology yet, and those that have are most likely to have used a lower-end version, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR. While these can be a good starting point for less-processor intensive content, like 360 photos or videos, they generally leave a lot on the table to what a true VR experience can be (in today’s terms). The likes of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive only started delivering their consumer version a few months ago and a lot of the know-how to develop for these systems is still to be learned.

Today, most VR content created is for these lower end systems (Cardboard and Gear VR) and I can understand why the industry is hesitant to adopt the technology – it just isn’t immersive enough for the consumer – it doesn’t help to address a number of problems promised by VR. If this was the best option available, then I’d say VR is just a FAD.

But, all VR content isn’t equal. There is great VR content for property available, and it usually comes on the HTC Vive (due to its ability to let the user walk around and interact with the environment). Almost anything imaginable can be created; basic interactions such as opening doors to changing the colour schemes on the fly, you’re able to virtually visit different neighbourhoods full of property for sale, have a virtual sales assistant give a tour of different properties, all while live streaming to your friends via Facebook. Tenants are able to virtually inspect the apartment, without disturbing the existing tenant, eliminating vacancy.

Fast forward three or more years from now and the experience will only evolve, as the hardware improves, content development techniques are refined and more people adopt the tech. Imagine being able to look around your new neighbourhood, virtually. You’ll be able to drop into a virtual real estate sales offices, who can show you some options, chat with a mortgage broker, get real-time investment statistics and even consult with a lawyer… all from your armchair. You’ll be able to furnish your new home, by virtually positioning the furnishings and order delivery for the day you move in.

Realestate.com.au was founded in 1995, before the internet was widely used. The VR industry is on the cusp of becoming mainstream and is able to demonstrate property in a way a laptop will never be able to.

From where I’m sitting, it’s not a fad, it’s the beginning.

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