VR tech cuts out travel time in property hunts

by Maya Breen15 Mar 2017
Watson Real Estate is paving a new way of marketing in the New Zealand property space, now offering homebuyers and prospective renters virtual reality tours of its listings.

Watson Real Estate’s business development manager Greg Watson says they are the first in the country to provide the high-resolution 3D virtual reality tours.

Using Google’s 3D goggles and virtual tour software the cardboard goggles immerse the viewer and make it feel like they have been transported into the house, in contrast to 2D virtual tours which are already in popular use on real estate company websites.

Watson Real Estate provides free specially made Google cardboard viewers to potential home buyers who can then experience the virtual reality tour via their smart phone after downloading the compatible app. 

Watson says the experience also brings more truth to viewing properties because the imagery is mapped using a wire mesh to provide a realistic model and accurate measurements.

“There are no misleading wide angles, unlike traditional home staging photography, and you can be the judge of what condition the house is in and how big the rooms are, before going to see it.”

Speaking to NZ Adviser, Watson said this new way of marketing using VR tech means buyers can make most of their decision of whether to proceed further based on this experience before they’ve actually stepped into the home they are interested in. 

“The idea of the virtual reality tour is to give them an experience that is realistic and favourable so that they will hopefully put that property on the short-list.”

Using the VR goggles, viewers can get an idea of the size of the rooms and even the view out of the windows, moving around the house from room to room by looking at a trigger point that appears in front of the viewer, keeping the experience hands-free. 

The content is captured in-house with a Matterport camera the company bought costing them close to $10,000 but which enables staff to create the virtual tours within a short turnaround time. 

High quality still shots can also be taken from the footage, reducing the need for a professional photographer. 

“The difference here is the way that we market around the ability to send out goggles to people that we feel would be very well suited for a property, is unprecedented in this country,” said Watson. “I don’t think anybody’s doing that.” 

He said they only need to show a home one third as many times now, resulting in less disturbance to the seller while saving purchasers and prospective tenants valuable time.

Although it may cut down the time between buyer and agent in person, he said “we’re still finding that there is a pretty high level of interaction and we honestly believe the benefits out way that," he told NZ Adviser.

He said clients love the VR option and are finding it presents an easier, accurate and fair representation of the property.

“The comments we get from clients looking through properties is overwhelming extremely positive and from our sellers as well.

“The interesting thing with where virtual reality is going in terms of technology is that all smart phones that have come out in the last couple of years can do it – people just need to pop it into a device.”

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