By Leila Glen at Fast Sale Today

Virtual Reality is a growing trend; spanning numerous sectors from gaming to media and most recently adult pornography, it’s no surprise that the property industry, too, is taking advantage of this technological development as a way of marketing luxury property.

As property giants including Savills launch virtual reality property tours at their London head office, it is only a matter of time before other’s follow suit; ‘Open House’ days will become a thing of the past as virtual viewings offering multi-sensory tours become the new normal.

According to a survey by The Future Laboratory, when buying a house the use of new technological advances such as drones, touching gloves and – of course – virtual reality headsets, will be rife.

So How Exactly Does it Work?

According to Savills, “A property is filmed using a mixture of laser scanning and 360 degree capturing equipment. The images go through a post-production process and are delivered via a HMD which tracks the user’s head movements and shows each eye a slightly different image, giving the illusion of being in a 3D space. Soundscaping is added at certain points of the tour for an additional sense of presence. The user is then able to ‘move’ from room to room and out into the garden via a number of hotspots.”

Virtual Reality tours work particularly well in the prime London market due to the fact that a large amount of foreign investors – who would be otherwise unable to view the property – are able to do so from whatever location they are based in at whatever time they have a moment spare. It adds a huge element of convenience to property investment; the use of VR in property is already a $1bn industry globally, and Goldman Sachs estimate that is set to treble by 2020.

Off-Plan Developments

For those developments that are in the process of construction, virtual reality tours are a particularly useful selling tool, helping clients to envisage what their property will look and feel like once it is complete.

Georgia Siri, Battersea Power Station Development Company’s UK sales director says, “This experience offers our visitors the ability to step into this new world for the first time and imagine really living or working there, several years before completion.”

Virtual Open House

An open house tends to be a tool used in order to speed up the sales process, by getting as many people as possible in to view a property in a given timeframe – but space and number of bodies is always going to be an issue. Enter the “Virtual Open House” phenomenon.

Crowding isn’t an issue when individuals are essentially viewing the property on a film through a pair of lenses; a home buyer can expect thousands of property views in one day. A further advantage is the wider audience, from a larger circumference around the property who will be able to view the property without having to even step food inside – and more potential buyers almost always means a quicker sale.

Virtual Reality Taken One Step Further

In true American style, the US have taken Virtual Reality property viewings a step further by employing some unusual tactics to make their property stand out. Don’t be surprised if you see a Hollywood star taking a dip in the pool or pounding the treadmill in the midst of your virtual inspecting of a property; vendors are hiring actors to take part in the filming of their homes.

Future Developments

As a rule of all things technology, innovation never stops and inventors are always looking for ways to advance and grow their ideas. Virtual Reality is no exception as virtual sense of smell, virtual touch and even virtual chat with your builder via hologram are all currently under development.

Moreover, “Virtual Makeovers” are said to be the next step in this version of augmented reality, whereby potential property purchasers will have the ability to re-furnish and re-decorate the house they are considering making their own. They will be able to choose everything from the colour of paint on the walls to the furniture and will even be given the option to knock down virtual walls and re-design the properties floorplan just as they would like to do if they bought it.

Robbie Grant property expert at Fast Sale Today says: “Being able to see a property without actually having to go and see it is a huge deal for property vendors and purchasers alike. In this age of increased busyness, convenience is key.”

Do remember though, if you happen to see George Clooney shaking a cocktail on your virtual travels, he probably doesn’t come with the house…