Here’s How You Can Take Advantage
Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been developing at a breakneck pace in recent years. Forbes Magazine’s R. L. Adams recently explored some of the ways the application of this technology to various markets will change our lives—and listed real estate as the #1 market that’s about to be transformed by VR. “Much of the real estate industry and remodeling industry are founded on the need for conceptualization,” he writes. “Clunky software and showroom or in-home tours are used as selling tools to help convince people to buy or remodel something. But, imagine a world where the ease of conceptualization is increased thanks to the visual power and lifelike realities presented by VR headsets.”
In today’s world, real estate agencies invest huge amounts of time, effort, and money into matching the right properties with the right buyers. Agents often need to schlep different people to apartments over and over again, who never end up signing, or spend hours on the phone attempting to describe properties to people who will take one look and know immediately that it’s not for them. Selling apartments can be thankless work and involve countless dead ends.
The situation gets even more complicated if the property in question is actually being lived in, as getting it in shape, making sure it’s presentable and coordinating with tenants every time an interested party wants to see it can be a huge headache.
At the other end of the equation, property-seekers also often have to deal with unending challenges and frustrations in their quest for a home. In Israel specifically, the situation is grim; in a recent Knesset debate on the state of the rental market in Israel, MK Stav Shaffir described the market as a “jungle,” “messy, chaotic and lawless.” And when someone wants to buy a property in the Holy Land from abroad, such as when they’re making Aliyah, for example, the challenges can multiply. Most people don’t have the time or money required to make a pilot trip that will enable them to search for the right home and neighborhood. So, they often end up having to rely on photographs or video tours of the properties and hoping that the homeowner is being honest and transparent—which, unfortunately, is not always the case.
But VR has the potential to change all that. Thanks to 3D scanning and “true dimension” mapping technology, it’s possible to recreate a space on a computer screen, mobile device, or VR headset, so the potential buyer or renter can “walk through” and look around the property as though he were actually there. Unlike photographs and video tours, 360° 3D virtual tours allow viewers to control what they see, so they can really focus on the details that are important to them. As an additional bonus, the technology records precise measurements of the property and creates an accurate floor plan with exact measurements. This saves the homeowners the extra money and hassle of bringing in a professional appraiser to measure the property and draw up a floor plan. If you’re thinking Google Street View then you’re on the right track, but what we are describing is actually a huge step beyond 360° Google photos. Virtual Reality tours with 3D
true-dimension mapping can’t be captured by any smartphone or Google-Street-View-360°- enabled camera purchased from Amazon. 3D virtual mapping requires innovative equipment based on cutting-edge technology that uses infrared scanning to collect 3D data to actually map out and capture a space with all its dimensions, effectively “recreating” it for the viewer so that the content can be experienced in the total immersion of virtual reality.
All this may sound like it’s decades away, but one Israeli start-up, 360dira, is already applying this technology to revolutionize the Israeli real estate market. They provide an online platform where real estate agents and homeowners can list their properties and offer a complete 360° 3D virtual tour. Instead of dealing with the endless parade of showings, the agent or homeowner can bring in the 360dira team for just one day to scan and map the property, and then send any potential buyers to that property’s page on the web portal at 360dira.com, where they can tour the property from the comfort of their homes. Only when a potential buyer is truly interested would they come to see the property in real life.
The VR tour on the 360dira website can be used in a number of ways:
1) You can use your computer mouse, or touch screen on a mobile device, to move through the property yourself;
2) You can press “play” on a pre-recorded virtual tour, and then just sit back and watch as you’re lead around the house. You can press pause and “look around” at a room or a feature in more detail at any time;
3) You can use the “dollhouse” or “floorplan” view to zoom out and look at the whole property from above or from the side, rotating it in any direction to see its exact layout—a perspective that’s not even possible to see in real life! If you really want to get as close to walking through the property as you can without actually being there, there’s also a setting that allows you to use your smartphone with any standard VR headset, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear.
Another disadvantage of not being able to visit a property in person is missing the chance to see the neighborhood. 360dira plans to offer a solution for this, too: a neighborhood “drive-through” using drone footage, which will complement your Virtual Reality tour of the property with a comprehensive view of its surroundings, as well. Forbes mentions a few companies that are already taking advantage of this technology for real estate. REA Group, Australia’s largest real estate web portal, found that potential buyers are 95% more likely to call when the listing includes a 360° 3D virtual tour. Other research has shown that online engagement increased by 300% when the listing includes a 360° 3D virtual tour. These numbers are impressive, and reflect the fact that the chances of closing a deal are much greater when properties provide a 360° 3D tour – and that’s true even when potential buyers are searching for property in their own country.
When this technology is applied to real estate in Israel, where tens of thousands of people worldwide begin their apartment search from many miles away, 360dira believes that the jump in online interest could be many times greater. In 2016 alone, 27,000 new citizens moved to Israel, a number that is expected to increase in the coming years. In addition to purchases made and rental contracts signed by new olim, a further 3,000 apartments are purchased in Israel each year by non-citizens, and thousands of rental contracts are signed by young couples and students looking to spend a year or two in the holy land. There is no question that 360° 3D virtual tours will completely change the way people search for real estate in Israel. Most companies in the US charge a hefty fee for the service of creating and maintaining 3D virtual tours, given that the technology is still quite expensive; but 360dira is so confident in their service that they are currently providing it free of charge for a limited time to select real estate brokers and upscale property owners, to let them see for themselves just how much time and money it will save them and how much it will impress their clients.
Smaller real estate agents and property owners who can’t afford to pay for the service directly can pay only if and when the property is sold or rented through the use of 360dira’s virtual tour. This is an amazing opportunity to get a taste of what this technology can do for sales. Showing your property to potentially hundreds of clients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see it is one of the main benefits of 360dira but there are other benefits too. 360dira believes that their virtual tours will also save real estate agents a fortune in advertising, as the website will help bring them more potential buyers, thanks to the company’s investment in advanced search engine optimization and marketing campaigns abroad.
The website itself has advanced search options. Beyond standard criteria like price, location, and size, 360dira’s innovative and user-friendly website will also enable users to search according to the features that are most important to them. If they want to know if there’s room for a succah, if the property has a private entrance, solar heating, handicapped access, a Shabbat elevator, if it’s newly renovated, or has an option to expand— with the click of a mouse users can filter listings according to all of these preferences, and more.
Additionally, the website will be available in five languages, including English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian, and will be locally marketed in Jewish neighborhoods around the world. 360dira is aiming to become the global one-stop shop for anyone looking for property in Israel. As the site develops, they hope to offer a comprehensive listing of all the different types of housing available, including properties for sale, rent or investment, as well as vacation homes. Virtual reality technology is going to revolutionize the way people buy and sell real estate around the world, and in Israel, 360dira is leading the way.