Virtual reality could transform the home buying process

The traditional relationship between buyers and real estate agents could one day disappear, according to new research from HSBC Bank.

Entitled Beyond the Bricks: The Future of Home Buying, the report suggests that disruptive technologies, like virtual reality (VR), could one day transform the home buying process.

“New technologies are poised to transform the way people buy a home,” the report said. “Technology is already changing the way home buyers approach each of the three key phases of home buying – researching, financing and purchasing. And the change is accelerating fast, with significant implications for consumers and the property industry.”

According to James Dearsley, a property technology expert who was quoted in the report, the days of physically visiting a real estate agent’s office and physically inspecting various homes could be on its last legs. “Virtual reality will allow home buyers to live in a virtual version of a home for several days to truly try before they buy,” he said.

While this emerging technology might sound exciting, about 90% of Canadians have not had any virtual experience, and the lack of access to VR technology is the main hindrance to any serious change in real estate habits, according to Jonah Brotman, founder of the House of VR in Toronto.

“Entertaining and gaming is the first vertical that has succeeded in the VR space. But the technology is incredible and will be a game changer in many industries. Real estate is one industry that has picked up that,” Brotman said.

Within real estate, new projects are dominating the VR space, because they enable prospective buyers to put on headsets and experience the finished product before it’s built.

Buyers can even make design changes using VR. “The person can be in a headset and decide if they want the counter tops to [stay marble or changed to granite]” Brotman added.

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