AR and VR: The Future of New Home Marketing
Lasso guest blogger John Lee of Rendering House shares his vision of new home marketing by the year 2020.
Selling new homes is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. Home builders have to convince today’s tech-savvy home buyers to buy new homes over existing ones, often sight unseen. Not only do new home buyers usually pay more and undertake an arduous construction process, but unlike existing homes, they can’t even view photos and videos of their future home online, much less tour it in person.
This huge visual impediment is not only frustrating and risky, it also has likely deterred thousands of would-be new home buyers. It’s simply safer to settle for an imperfect existing home than to blindly build a new dream home.
Fortunately, high-tech solutions are now literally in sight. Cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can now make seeing a dream home a virtual reality! Not only can customers visualize and experience their future homes, but they can even color design them at full-scale on their actual homesites – all on their smartphones!
These revolutionary visualization and customization capabilities have effectively turned new home marketing’s biggest detriment into a major advantage over existing homes. AR and VR also enable builders to reach large, remote audiences 24/7 online – saving thousands of hours and dollars building, staging, maintaining and staffing model homes. Supplement this technology with online CRMs, like Lasso, and home builders can provide the personalized new home shopping experience that today’s tech-savvy consumers demand.
So How Will This Work?
Dream Homes will Drop from the Cloud
Instead of browsing generic brochures or static renderings, your customers would choose their favorite homes from an AR/VR cloud database of thousands of virtual house plans – just like they do now with online movies. Similar to Netflix, to help select a house, customers would preview virtual reality trailers of each home’s designs. Based on their preferences, CRMs with AI, chatbots and voice-assistants would narrate, and even recommend, different floor plans by style, region and features. Basically, virtual agents would guide virtual home tours.
Instead of watching a downloaded movie on TV, customers would download and drop their selected 3D virtual home into their living rooms. They’d walk around their AR “dollhouse” and tour it with a smartphone, tablet or ultimately, mixed reality (AR/VR) glasses. They could take and post photos and videos on social media for insightful feedback – effectively launching free viral marketing campaigns for you, the builder.
If they don’t want to walk around the virtual home, no problem. Customers could simply rotate and position the home with their fingers. They could even “walk through” the walls like a ghost and look out of virtual windows or a screened-porch. If they need to compare multiple homes, they’d just drop in a few more homes for side-by-side comparisons. With a quick touch they could instantly change and view different color schemes.
For customers interested in the specs of a construction material, they could just approach or touch the material to launch pop-up information, videos or photos. This supplemental AR content could be customized to their local language, units of measure, currency and even graphics. With a video game engine, they could even open doors and move objects. Eventually, “X-ray” vision will enable people to look into the bones of the home to learn more about its materials and construction features.
After a prospective buyer finds, tours and designs the exterior via AR, they could then “step inside” for a completely immersive VR experience. They could take a VR tour via a 360 Matterport-like experience or freely navigate the space, customizing fixtures and finishes with pricing updated along the way. With VR, they could view unique perspectives, change lighting, the time of day and even incorporate sound for narration, music and special effects (like running water as they approach the jacuzzi) to set the mood and lifestyle.
A Field of Dreams: Virtually Build It and They Will Come
Every house needs a home! After your customer has saved their custom-designed dream home to their Cloud account, they could then view virtual site plans of the available communities. They could immerse themselves in video game-like community virtual tours or watch a drone video of the undeveloped property augmented with a computer model of the finished community.
Again, using a smartphone, your customer could virtually place their selected AR site plan on a table or let it hover like a hologram. Augmented data would show lot size, pricing and availability. They could view the site from any direction, with a virtual compass and pop-up information guiding them to ideal lots.
Once they found the perfect community, it would be time for real-world visit. With AR glasses, they could view a virtual streetscape of geo-anchored AR houses interspersed among actual homes. They could place their full-scale custom-designed AR house on their actual lot and take photos and videos of it just like an existing home. They could even change the color scheme on-site as they see their house amid the virtual neighborhood streetscape.
Photo credit: Rendering House
When they are virtually set with their custom home and homesite, they’d simply save it to their Cloud account. As the builder, you would take it from there and make your customer’s dream home a reality. They may even be able to buy it online!
Seeing is Believing
Obviously, this is my vision for the future of new home sales and marketing. Though many of the features described are available now, AR/VR is still in its infancy. But as costs decline and popularity grows – particularly among tech-savvy millennials and in other industries – these very engaging virtual experiences will rapidly supplement, if not replace, traditional still renderings and new home marketing platforms.
A convergence of key technologies like the Cloud, 5G, AI, virtual assistants and AR glasses will be essential to AR and VR becoming mainstream. I foresee 2020 as being a pivotal year for this transformation. Set your sights on that date and start preparing now!
About the author…
John Lee is the founder and CEO of Rendering House. Rendering House’s graphic artists, computer modelers and software developers create renderings, virtual tours and design apps at its Holly Springs, NC office. John has a NC Real Estate license and MBA, and as the VP of Finance, raised $9M for a Silicon Valley startup. He is a tech evangelist for new home marketing and a frequent speaker at IBS and Do You Convert’s Online Sales Summit. John is also a co-developer of a 53K sq ft mixed-used development.
Learn more at RenderingHouse.com.