How Virtual Reality Could Change Construction and Real Estate Forever

The concept of virtual reality used to be limited to wacky gameplay for rich teenagers in films, but now, it’s being used in much more serious, real life applications. The construction industry and real estate market, in particular, are using VR to their advantage, allowing would-be property owners to experience homes and businesses before they’re ever even built. Talk about far out.

The U.S. construction market was worth approximately $1,162 billion in 2016, which means it’s more lucrative than ever for builders to embrace technology to appeal to buyers. Both virtual and augmented reality systems can provide a tangible experience for commercial and residential owners, allowing them to examine the most minute of details and get a true sense of what being inside a given structure would feel like without a single wall being built.

By putting on a headset, customers can walk around a construction site and really see where everything in the blueprints will end up. They can even see how the sun’s shadows will change the feel of a given room or make adjustments as they see fit. Since commercial buildings accounted for nearly 35.9% of the total flooring market in 2016, swapping out flooring options — as well as countertops, wallpaper, and other features — has become a desirable VR feature for many buyers. Some companies have even tried to round out the personal experience by adding in other tactile elements to stimulate the senses, like varying temperatures, textures, and smells.

VR can make for a more appealing experience for buyers, but it’s also a welcome addition for construction companies, particularly where cost savings are concerned. Being able to troubleshoot in advance and anticipate layout challenges can represent a significant amount of time that can be better used in other areas. It can allow projects to be completed in a shorter period, which is a win/win for all involved. Some companies have used VR technology to locate forgotten sewer lines or ground toxins. It can even help with general employee training and safety — a major concern within the industry that many would say has not been adequately addressed.

Of course, real estate agents have embraced virtual reality, too. Whether a buyer is located far away from the area they’re looking to live or an apartment simply has yet to be built, agents looking to market high-end properties can better convince an owner to take a leap of faith if they have VR on their side. The amount of detail possible is nothing short of extraordinary; it’s just like walking through a property in person. The technology is getting more and more realistic, and with sensory reality on the horizon, more realtors catering to luxury markets are eager to explore the possibilities.

It may seem like something out of science fiction, but virtual reality has now become a reality for many — and it’s likely to be a real money-maker, if these companies use it wisely.

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