We had a stark reminder this week of just how long we have all been in the property business! We took a trip down memory lane remembering black and white property details, clunky old photocopiers, fax machines, hand written applicant cards and folders upon folders of properties. This was a time before Rightmove and now every estate agent has a website. So much business is carried out over email and technology allowing us to operate a 24/7 service regardless of where our office is physically located.
So on Tuesday of this week we got to see what has been touted as the future of property for at least the last three to four years, but only now is becoming both affordable and accessible. We're talking about virtual reality or just plain VR if you're in that space!
Early attempts at using virtual reality for property was really nothing more than a bad PowerPoint presentation with a range of still photographs being zoomed in and out off. There was no interaction, the experience was very much two dimensional. So for that reason it was fair to say we were slightly cautious. Every time we heard about virtual reality we assumed that it would involve specialist equipment and we'd all be wearing those rather unflattering headsets.
The hardware and software used is supplied by a company called Matterport and the Matterport camera collects extremely accurate visual and spatial data to map an entire room in minutes. You really do get a new perspective with the various viewing options available.
In ‘Dolls House’ view you see the whole property in 3D you can move around and enter at any room any level.
When switching to the inside view you get to walk around as though you're actually there and the important thing to remember is that this is a smooth experience as you transition from room to room. There's no jumping, there's no jolting, there's no waiting for something to load.
To finish off, you can use the traditional top-down perspective with the various two-dimensional and three-dimensional floor plan options.
The camera uses HDR high dynamic range photography to balance the dark and light areas of an image so no special lighting or lighting equipment is required. A four bedroom property can easily be scanned in under 90 minutes and using the current modern standard for 3D content the whole experience can be viewed in a web browser.
Where it gets really interesting is being able to link or overlay data from additional systems. For lettings it becomes easy to link to an inventory and it's not too much of a stretch to imagine using data from your John Lewis account to make sure the dining room table that you've purchased is going to fit in your next home!
So here at Waymark we've been suitably impressed that the technology and the experience will add value and help sell property. A caveat is that it’s probably not something that we can do for each and every home but certainly for the right house we are more than happy to discuss with you how we could use a virtual tour to sell your property.
One small word of warning though: however good the technology gets – and it is now very good – it will never replace the need to view a property. Indeed, we are thinking that rather than it being used as a viewing replacement or as a filter to decide whether to view, it’s bet purpose will be to become a point of reference for those who have already viewed. After all, how many people purchase a property after one viewing of less than an hour. With this technology, they can keep going back, time and time again!
And if you really do fancy one of those funny headsets, we'll be able to throw in one of those as well for free!