Real Estate Agents Sell Houses, But Customers Buy Experiences

When looking for a place to live the ability to imagine yourself living there and the perception of how the home will improve your life is key – from the commute time to whether your antique fainting couch will fit under the window.

To support this psychological lifestyle alignment, real estate agents advise sellers of existing homes to remove highly personal items such as photos and collectibles from their homes before potential buyers arrive. They’ll even request you paint your walls a neutral color. The reason behind removing traces of the current owner’s personality is simple: Buyers do not want to imagine someone else living in the house — they want to imagine themselves living there. The less evidence of the current owner’s lifestyle, preferences or personality that buyers can see, the easier it is for them to see themselves living in the home.

For new homes the challenge comes from not being able to walk into a home before it’s built. It’s expensive for builders to build, decorate, and hold out for sale every model they sell. Or take the case of an inventory home with no furnishings, again it’s difficult to get a feel for your furnishings fitting into a completely empty living room.

Don’t forget about rental properties – it’s the same need. Rental property owners can’t afford to hold out units for occupancy so prospective renters can tour them. Nor do they want to invade the privacy of existing renters to allow potential renters to tour their home.

Imagination can only go so far when it comes to visualizing a home with your furnishings. Recently, homebuilders, real estate agents, and rental property owners have started to embrace innovative technologies to deliver a digital, engaging experience for potential buyers and renters.

Augmented Reality and Real Estate

Augmented reality takes elements of reality and then adds digital technology to enhance that reality. For example, photos and blueprints can be transformed into interactive 3D models that allow clients to try out furniture arrangements, colors or design features. Some AR applications allow clients to upload photos of their own furniture and scale it.

Drones and Real Estate

Drone technology allows real estate professionals to capture aerial images of a home and its surroundings at an economical cost. In the past, the cost of traditional aerial photography has normally been prohibitive to widespread use. With drones, real estate agents no longer have to reserve aerial photography for just properties costing millions of dollars. Drone photography can also be combined with augmented reality to offer a digital experience that gives potential buyers a better sense of the life they would have if they bought the property.

Virtual Reality and Real Estate

Virtual reality is not the same as augmented reality. With virtual reality, the entire viewing experience is simulated. Real estate professionals can use virtual reality to help potential buyers “walk through” a property without being on the site. The simulation can be as simple as a series of empty rooms that follow the property’s layout. The client dons a headset to view the details of the property, including floor coverings, furnishings, paint, cabinets, windows and much more.

The Future of Technology for Real Estate

As technology advances, real estate professionals will likely discover many new ways to deliver an engaging digital experience. This experience will go beyond simply showcasing a property; it will also provide ways for customers to choose upgrades or furnish their homes. One interesting application of technology is the experiential space set up by John Lewis, a department store in the United Kingdom. In London, the company created a space featuring Internet of Things devices that enables shoppers to see these smart devices functioning in a realistic context. The space is divided into furnished rooms that vividly demonstrate how the smart technology behaves. For example, as night falls in the bedroom, strip lighting placed beneath the bed bathes the room in a soft glow. In the kitchen, shoppers will find a refrigerator that uses live imagery to let them use their cell phone to view the contents. Other devices include a smart thermostat, a camera that uses facial recognition to welcome the owner home and a bedside device that uses input such as the room temperature and breathing patterns to monitor the quality of the user’s sleep.

New technology gives real estate professionals the opportunity to tell an engaging story about the property in ways that were impossible just a few years ago. The adoption of technology by the real estate industry is not yet widespread, but an increasing number of professionals are discovering the benefits of going high-tech to deliver the all-important experience that potential buyers crave.

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