The market for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is huge. Forecasters predict sales will reach $108 billion by the year 2021, and the real estate industry is rapidly making use of this technology. VR will generate $80 billion by 2025, and $2.6 billion of that will come directly from the real estate world.

Real estate agents are always looking for ways to make the home showing process easier and more streamlined. By combining VR with AR, mixed reality (MR) gives clients a detailed, immersive encounter. MR essentially helps buyers “experience a home” on another level, as well as filter out the homes they don’t want to see. This saves everyone time in the long run.
Industry members know that homes with photographs have higher perceived values, and homes with 3D capabilities have even higher perceived values. Some VR companies use smart software to stitch together photographs and provide users with an interactive, 360-degree experience.

This technology also enables international investment potential, since VR/AR can reach buyers on a global scale. Total-immersion viewing experiences are particularly useful in the niche market of luxury homes, since most of the potential buyers are internationally based. Realnyc is a virtual reality platform which allows users to tour apartments, record presentations, ask questions, make notes and share comments remotely. It’s used so frequently. It’s now common for tenants to sign a lease for an apartment they have never even visited, and one in every three home buyers now makes an offer on a house they’ve never seen in person, which is an increase over one in five the previous year.

Zillow and Realtor.com can now let users enter prices, locations, and a number of rooms as search criteria, and then present them with homes available for virtual tours. Halstead Properties have 3D displays and VR headsets in its offices, and luxury agents Engel & Völkers use virtual “theaters” in their Minneapolis office by way of the Oculus Rift headset. Sotheby’s, another luxury real estate firm, already has a massive database of 360-degree captured homes, ready for prospective buyers to view.

Even if virtual tours are unavailable, AR can still be used to help enhance existing floor plans and photos with personal items such as clients’ actual furniture. Rentberry lets people use AR to visualize potential homes by adding objects, assorted construction materials and different shades of paint to get a feel for a space. Companies like Matterport provide realistic and interactive 3D and VR experiences for potential homeowners. It used to be difficult for developers to communicate a project vision to a client. Now they can now show prospective buyers what the end product will look like.