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Virtual Reality: Helps Sell Real Estate

by Yvonne von Jena | January 2, 2016


Virtual reality is starting to make inroads in how real estate is sold, both overseas and here at home. Overseas, investors who are looking to park their money in Canadian real estate could soon be donning headsets and touring upcoming condo developments in virtual reality, according to the founder of a Toronto-based technology firm and an article in The Canadian Press. Invent Dev turns floor plans of new developments into 3D, immersive mockups that can be experienced in virtual reality, such as through the Occulus Rift system, or via Samsung Gear VR headset. David Payne, the company’s founder and CEO, says he’s been getting a lot of interest from the Chinese community. The technology could help Canadian developers tap into global markets by allowing prospective buyers to tour a space without ever having to board a plane, he said. “They can now, from the comfort of their own home, view any floor plan that they want, with the finishes they want, and feel like they’re actually inside that home,” says Mr. Payne. Developers are also benefiting through cost savings. Lifestyle Custom Homes for example, employed Invent Dev’s technology to create virtual reality mockups of its upcoming development in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood, which provided a significant cost saving for the company. While full-blown virtual reality (which is the kind that is experienced through a headset) is relatively new in the Canadian real estate industry, a number of real estate agents have been using other technologies to create immersive experiences of homes. Cameras such as the Matterport Pro 3D can scan an existing home and create a three-dimensional rendering of it that can be viewed through a simple web browser. A number of Toronto-based brokers with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, which works with a large proportion of overseas buyers, started using the technology earlier this year. Says Elaine Hung, vice-president of marketing at Sotheby’s, “Our clients love the fact that they’re able to experience an immersive model that they’re able to control and where they’re able to walk through a space in its entirety,” Ara Mamourian says his brokerage, SpringRealty.ca, has been using online virtual tours for all of its listings since 2013. One of the things that prompted Mr. Mamourian to start offering the service was a high number of calls from overseas buyers and that some of these foreign investors are willing to purchase properties, such as condos, without visiting them in person first. Here at home,  realtors note that the technology has benefits for local home buyers, as well. For example, it can help a home-hunter narrow down his or her list of options, ultimately cutting down on the amount of time spent driving around town touring homes, says Ms. Hung. “We have a new generation of home buyers … who expect and deserve to experience a product before they invest their time in walking through.” Further, Ms. Hung says, “Real estate is one of the leading industries to pioneer and adopt this technology in a significant way.”


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