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Virtual Tours (And Six Other Ways That VR and AR Will Change Property Development)


Virtual Tours (And Six Other Ways That VR and AR Will Change Property Development)

Educators, students, and industry veterans alike must adapt to ever-changing technology. The introduction of virtual and augmented reality signals big changes in property development. Here are seven AR and VR trends that will change the industry.

The architectural and property development industries have changed over the last 40 years. Long gone are the days when developers drew up plans on paper. Digital design software reigns supreme. The introduction of technologies like computer-aided design (CAD) sparked a revolution. Now, we stand at a point where a new set of technologies may do the same.

This presents a problem for those in the industry. It also creates issues for universities and their students. You must stay ahead of the curve to prosper in the industry. For universities, this means training students to use emerging technologies, as well as current ones.

This brings us to the topic of this article. Augmented and virtual reality (VR) technology has made massive strides in recent years. Today, VR in property development is no longer a future thought. It’s something that’s happening right now. You need to prepare your educational programs for such new technologies.

To show you why, this article lists seven ways that AR and VR will change property development. But first, let’s look at what these technologies are.

What is VR?

As the name implies, VR immerses the user in a completely computer-generated world.

Here’s how it works. A designer creates a virtual world using a CAD program. Traditionally, the viewer uses a computer monitor to view these designs. While they can see 3D images, they have to view them on a 2D screen.

With virtual reality, you bring these designs to life. Using a special headset, alongside various controllers and sensors, the viewer can explore the design. VR allows for a level of interactivity and immersion that you can’t get from CAD models. The simple act of turning your head exposes more of the model.

So, why is this important in property development? VR creates a new frontier in terms of visualisation. Clients no longer need to rely on developers to explain models to them. They can use VR to explore them in real time. As a result, they can pick out errors and get a feel for how a building will look in real life.

What is AR?


Many people confuse augmented reality (AR) with virtual reality. However, AR works slightly differently. Instead of showcasing upcoming designs, developers can use AR to enhance existing ones.

It’s a fairly simple idea. It involves the placement of virtual objects on top of a real physical structure or object. This creates a visual representation that shows the real and virtual in the same space.

The popular mobile game Pokémon Go is a good example of AR in action. The game allows the user to search for Pokémon on real streets and at landmarks. It uses a camera to display the real-world settings that the user plays in on the screen of a mobile device. AR comes into play when the user enters a battle with a Pokémon. The game places a virtual representation of the Pokémon against the real-life backdrop that the camera captures. This creates a more immersive experience.

That’s just one example. AR has uses in all sorts of industries. Moreover, AR can be much more complex than this. Special AR devices take inputs, have sensors, and can utilise sounds and touch. This allows the user to manipulate the environment.

In the case of property development, you can use AR to plant virtual objects on top of real-life objects. Here’s a simple example. You could use an AR device to show a representation of a physical room on a screen. You could then use AR to place virtual furniture in that room. This would give you an idea of how the furniture would look, without having to physically place it in the room.

So, how could these technologies affect property development on a wider scale? Here are seven AR and VR trends that may change the industry.

Change #1 – Replacing Online Photographs

Property developers today have several issues when it comes to attracting clients. People generally want to see the properties they’re thinking about buying. For local buyers, this means looking at online photos and conducting physical visits of the property. International buyers have even more problems. They have to trust in third parties to deliver the right information to them.

VR in property development can change all of this. Using this technology, a property developer could create virtual tours of their buildings. They could even upload them online for other people to see. International buyers could use these tours to get a proper look at the property without having to visit it. Even local buyers could use them to influence their decisions. Such tours could also leverage AR to help people see how a property would look with different items inside.

The end result is twofold. Firstly, such tours provide a more accurate representation of a property than photos and a description. This generally means that property developers benefit from buyers who have a good idea of what’s on offer. As a result, they save the time they’d spend with people who end up having no interest in the development. Moreover, it means that poor photos won’t put a potential buyer off.

Secondly, these tours help developers to market their work. They offer greater convenience to buyers, which again streamlines the whole process.

Change #2 – Improved Visualisation


Let’s assume that a developer has yet to build. This creates an even bigger visualisation problem. The developer has nothing physical to show potential buyers. As a result, they have to rely on CAD models and their own explanations. If they can’t explain their designs in a language the client understands, they risk losing the sale.

Augmented and virtual reality solves that problem. As mentioned, it allows you to create digital representations of structures. The key is that people can explore these digital designs. This offers immense benefits for visualisation. Instead of asking questions and trying to decipher a model, a client can immerse themselves in it. They can explore the property and even do things like toggle light switches. Simply put, VR in property development means clients can visualise the end product before it’s built.

This has several advantages. Firstly, it allows property developers to pre-sell projects that don’t have physical buildings attached to them. Secondly, it adds tangibility to the design. Clients can see what you’re working on, rather than having to imagine it. This goes a long way to shortening delays.

Change #3 – It Will Lead to Experimentation as Developers Adapt

The emergence of AR and VR in property development isn’t all good news. The likelihood is that the industry will spend a while adapting to the new technology. Developers will experiment with it, which has benefits and drawbacks. This experimentation can lead to innovations that benefit the industry as a whole. However, a lot of property developers will also come up with ideas that bog the industry down.

It’s likely that such ideas will muddy the waters for clients, at least for a couple of years. Developers and clients have to adapt to these new technologies before they become truly usable.

The danger in this comes from assuming that VR and AR in property development won’t catch on as a result. This could result in universities failing to cover it in their curricula. That would be a mistake, as the technology will keep evolving. Eventually, it will reach a point past the experimentation where it becomes the industry standard. Those in the industry who haven’t adapted will come up against serious obstacle at this point.

Change #4 – Estate Agents Will Come Under Pressure

The estate agent plays a key role in the current property market. Developers often rely on them to market their work to consumers. Agents stay abreast of the latest property market developments. They also usually take the reins when it comes to showing properties to potential clients.

But the rise of VR in property development threatens to change this role somewhat. Some argue that VR will eliminate the need for estate agents altogether. After all, why would a client need an agent if they can view the property in a virtual tour?

That’s unlikely to happen. But it doesn’t mean that agents and the developers they work for don’t have to adapt. As virtual tours become more popular, they’ll also become the norm. Developers and agents who don’t offer them will fall behind those that do.

Change #5 – Fewer Property Visits Needed for a Sale


The ability to tour a property virtually will also affect how clients buy and rent. Virtual reality could lead to some clients agreeing to buy without ever visiting a property. In an increasingly time-strapped world, such a capability presents enormous potential to consumers.

It’s unlikely that this will occur overnight. In fact, it will likely take several years before clients feel comfortable in buying based on virtual tours alone. They’ll need to trust in the technology before reaching that point.

This brings us on to a related point. As more property developers create virtual tours, it’s likely that regulators will get involved. This will ensure developers don’t misrepresent the physical structure in the virtual setting. As that regulation comes to bear, it’s likely that more consumers will buy based on virtual tours.

Having said that, it’s unlikely that physical tours will disappear completely. Augmented and virtual reality can help with visualisation. But they can’t help with the other factors that buyers consider when making decisions. For example, they can’t provide sensation to the other senses, such as smell and touch.

Change #6 – Quicker Buying Decisions

Property developers also stand to benefit from the technology in terms of speed. Virtual tours allow buyers to eliminate properties that they’re on the fence about. This allows them to create a shortlist of potential purchases quicker.

Don’t underestimate how much of an effect this can have on sale speeds. It often takes months for buyers to visit every property that they’re considering. They may also have to wait several days for a viewing slot to become available for a particular property. VR in property development allows them to tour the property as soon as they discover it. This cuts down on a huge amount of research. The benefit for developers is that they achieve quicker sales with good virtual tours.

Change #7 – Easier Luxury Sales

Some property developers focus almost exclusively on the luxury market. This has several benefits. Chief among these is that the sale of a single luxury property may be worth as much as several regular properties. However, dealing in the luxury market also has drawbacks. Most importantly, it limits the buying pool for the property development. Such developers often have to rely on international buyers finding out about the property.

This is where VR in property development comes to the fore again. The use of virtual tours can highlight a luxury property’s features far better than photographs. International buyers, in particular, benefit from this superior visualisation. They also get access to increased amounts of information.

As a result, luxury developers can create marketing materials that appeal to every sector of the luxury market. They can expand their reach to international territories that may have previously been out of reach. This makes selling luxury properties easier.


Generally speaking, AR and VR in property development will become an important marketing tool. The creation of virtual tours improves visualisation. It also allows developers to appeal to wider markets and may save a lot of time.

That’s why it’s so important for those in the property development industry to embrace this new technology. On the teaching level, including AR and VR in lesson plans gives students an advantage. Student architects can learn how to use the technology while still in school. This leaves them well-placed to enter an industry that’s quickly adapting to the new technology.

All of this means that universities can’t just focus lessons on current digital design software packages. They need to look towards what’s coming too.

That’s where the Archistar Academy can help. We know that the huge amount of design software packages out there places demands on educators. The introduction of new technology threatens to increase that burden.

Our Archistar Academy program takes that burden out of your hands. Constantly evolving, the program measures student competency against current industry standards. This removes a lot of pressure from the shoulders of tutors. Moreover, it offers greater insight into student capabilities. The end result is a crop of students with improved job prospects when they finish their studies.

To find out more, contact one of the Archistar Academy consultants today.




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Posted on 20 Jan 2020

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