You may think that touring homes by virtual reality is a thing of the future, but if you’re looking for a luxury home, the future is already here. A number of high-end realtors are already making it possible for people to stop by their office and view homes virtually all over the country. (Read our tutorial: Buying a Home.) Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s International Realty are two of the leaders in virtual house shopping.
An Expensive Option
Right now it costs $300 to $700 to scan a home for a virtual showing, so it tends to be used only on high-priced homes. However, some expect the price to drop to a more affordable range for lower-cost homes within about five years. Hiring a professional with experience in shooting these virtual reality real estate tours can cost $3,000 or more.
In addition to the monies needed to actually produce a virtual tour, realtors also must invest in viewing equipment. Although they can go for cheap $5 card viewers from Google Cardboard, they are more likely to foot the bill for higher-end devices, which can range from $599 to $799 apiece.
Once this technology becomes more price competitive and more readily available, virtual tours could provide a slew of benefits that will make it easier for sellers to show a house to more prospective buyers – and for those looking for a home to find one with less effort. These include:
- Long distance movers: You can attract people who are moving for a job change from across the country. They will be able to “walk” through your home and make a decision even without being there.
- Spousal sharing: Sometimes a spouse is offered a job and needs to start house-hunting quickly in a location that is hundreds of miles from home. The out-of-town spouse can narrow down the choices with live tours, while the spouse in the current home can stop by a local real estate office to take a virtual tour and be part of the final decision. This not only can make it easier to sell a home, but also less expensive for a family moving across the country to find a home.
- Virtual searches online: Facebook and Zillow already have the technology needed to upload a virtual tour, so as the prices drop for people to own their own viewers, it will become much more common to tour homes virtually using online resources.
- Staging a home: Realtors can find it difficult to sell a vacant home. Today people must work with a staging company and pay a lot of money for temporary furnishings and decorations. With virtual reality tours, the photographer can also edit the film to “fill” the rooms with virtual furniture.
- Fewer people walking through your home: As a seller, you may dislike “getting the home ready” for every visitor. If more people can see the home via virtual reality, only those truly interested in purchasing will need to take a walk-through, which should reduce the curiosity seekers as well as those who decide, when they see it, that the floor plan is not to their taste. (See: Selling Your House? Avoid These Mistakes.)
- Less need for appointments: Sometimes a deterrence to a sale can be the need to set appointments, especially if the home is currently rented or for another reason cannot be available on short notice. One can miss a buyer just because he or she could not see it during their short shopping spree before a move. This happens frequently with out-of-town shoppers who do a fast tour over a long weekend. Virtual reality will make it possible for them to see your home even it they can not walk through it while in town. (Check out: Playing Hardball When Selling Your Home.)
The Bottom Line
Virtual reality real estate tours are already available for high-priced homes, but as the cost of doing them drops, it will likely become a popular way for many people to house-shop. The seller will still have to prepare the home for the photographer, just as though a buyer were going to walk through it, but won’t have to do it for every tour. For emptied homes, it can save the expense of staging.