Virtual Reality: Not Just for Video Gamers

Key Takeaways

  • Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for a minute, but it’s already starting to infiltrate the real estate space.

  • From property design to tours and marketing, savvy agents, building owners, and marketers are contemplating the possibilities.

  • Watch for this technology to continue to be perfected and for growing uses in the real estate world.


You’ve probably seen reference to virtual reality equipment, like Oculus Rift. That’s the headset that actually tricks your brain into thinking you’re in a completely different environment. The visual is so convincing that you really experience being elsewhere. It’s certainly shifting the landscape for video games.

Virtual Reality (VR) is big news for real estate too. In many ways, virtual reality seems ideal for the CRE industry, and it’s beginning to make a big impact on the field, especially for marketing.

VR in CRE

Used as a tool for showing properties to remote clients, VR can be used to show properties to remote clients.  The customer can “walk through” a property while using a hand controller for navigation, even when they’re a thousand miles away.  So they can “look” where they want to look in the space.  At the same time, the agent conducting the tour on site can see where the client is looking, just as they would if the client were actually there. In that way the agent can address specific features that are drawing the client’s attention.

This type of technology is primarily used only in sales of high-end property. The cost of scanning a property for VR ranges from $300 to $700 for a residential space. As costs decrease, as they inevitably will, use will likely become increasingly common. Some suggest that a “Zillow for VR” is only a matter of time.

VR is also being applied to property design. It can create “tours” of properties that aren’t complete yet, giving potential investors an accurate picture of the finished product –a realistic view of what the proposed building will actually look like, based on the design. This is a powerful marketing tool, and is also useful for developers pondering renovations or upgrades.

Why use VR?

In many cases, a client in a large market can spend days traveling around to look at multiple properties, and much of that time is wasted. Traffic and scheduling conflicts make property tours a very time-consuming proposition. The travel time can be eliminated using VR for initial property tours. Clients can come into the office and virtually tour multiple properties, narrowing down the list to a few finalists.

International buyers benefit from access to VR technology in the same way. Buyers from Asia and Europe can check out possible properties thoroughly before taking time to fly in and finalize the deal. Sellers benefit as well, because the buyers that eventually make contact are better informed and are serious about making an offer.

The use of VR in real estate is most common in larger markets, and there are companies in operation to support the technology. Some leaders are Avegant,  ProMedia, and Magic Leap.

There’s a lot of interest in VR across the commercial and residential real estate industries. Since 2010, VR companies have raised nearly $4 billion in venture capital. As more minds get to work on the idea, look for remarkable new ways to apply this technology in the years to come.