As the tech revolution continues to pick up speed, the increase of new gadgets to help real estate industry pros is no exception.
In the 1990s and 2000s, cellphones and smartphones freed real estate agents from their office chairs (and chained them to their cars). Who knew that was just the beginning?
Now drones soar high overhead, offering professional-quality listing photos from unprecedented perspectives.
How about the virtual real estate broker? The concept has been around since at least 1987 when the movie RoboCop showed a home tour guided by an agent who popped up on screens as buyers moved from room to room.
With video messaging apps like Skype and FaceTime, buyers can take home tours without actually being present. One company offers a robot that tours homes for you, recording videos that can be streamed online and viewed at your own leisure.
Some primitive virtual reality (VR) applications even allow clients to enter a lifelike home mock-up by wearing a headset and gaining the ability to“open doors” and “rearrange furniture” with simple hand gestures.
But now the iPhone may be the springboard for real estate’s next big thing: Augmented reality (AR), a digital mechanism that projects lifelike images onto real-world settings.
They aren’t sure how to profit from it yet, but Apple is betting millions by installing AR technology in its newest generation of iPhones. Google and Microsoft are planning AR systems, too.
And while AR is making its way into the education industry, it’s more likely you’ve seen its application in “Pokemon Go” (a smartphone game in which players wander around neighborhoods trying to capture monsters only they can see).
So how does this fit into real estate? Future agents could use an AR-equipped phone to animate a lifelike 3D interactive model of a home, even if the home hasn’t been built yet. AR brings these blueprints to life, allowing prospective homebuyers to see all their personal touches and customizations before they even start the buying process. Using AR, they could modify features like paint color and try out different amenities, fixtures and furniture.
Fear of change or fear of obsolescence can keep agents from embracing tech. But VR and AR are nothing to fear. They’re valuable tools that offer clients the chance to experience home-buying in a way they’ve never seen before.