Ever since Back to the Future II premiered in 1989 we’ve been waiting for hover boards and wearables to enter our everyday life. It may not be exactly how we imagined, but the future is finally here. In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus Rift with the vision of putting virtual reality (VR) in the hands of all social media users. Fast-forward to 2017 and Facebook is still fighting to make this a reality, but in the meantime we’re seeing VR become a potentially powerful game-changer for the real estate industry. The question we need to answer is how can real estate professionals monetize their investment in VR so that it leverages their assets?
On the obvious side, 3D visualization greatly speeds up the whole process for commercial buyers hoping to quickly view and analyze a potential acquisition, as well as smoothing over the deal for developers. Prospective tenants looking to lease a space can virtually walk through the space. For commercial lessees, this can mean the ability to rule out unsuitable office spaces before ever setting foot in them — a great way to save time for everyone involved in the process.
“3D has practical use that is not just for marketing purposes,” Real Data Management (RDM) COO Ryan Green said. “It saves times and costs by helping you view the specifics of a property and collaborate with your team without having to visit the building in person.”
However, finding the ROI of VR use in commercial real estate is a little tricky. Property managers heavily armed with CRE-based tech recognize that, to be useful to CRE landlords, 3D technology cannot stand on its own. Augmented and virtual reality tours must be coupled with a greater service, such as an online management platform and software.
RDM recently added a 3D tour component to their software application, RealAccess. After RDM scans a building/space and uploads to the platform, users can go from 2D to 3D while they’re looking at a floor plan. Property owners, managers and brokers are seeing the value this brings to their efficiency. Imagine looking at a flat, 2D plan and then opening up a 3D tour of the actual space, and being able to click through the space to check out fixtures, columns, wall thicknesses, sprinkler systems, and flooring.
Property managers, owners, and brokers primarily see the value of 3D bundled with other services that offer a definite return on investment, particularly if it can be leveraged internally. For instance, property owners with 3D tech paired with online management capabilities can virtually enter a basement, and scan and tag the existing engineering equipment. If they are installing new sprinklers, they can examine the manufacturer and version of the current equipment, as well as when they were last replaced and maintained. Interpreting data with the visualization of 3D versus looking at a report or spreadsheet is the greatest use case.
David Levy is part of this trend with owners, “The realistic 3D tours are a great addition to the [management] platform we subscribe to for our marketing and leasing,” said Principal at Adams & Company Real Estate. “We see this becoming an essential part of every listing in the near future.”