The use of virtual reality in real estate is rising. As those in the industry start to wise up to the sheer magnitude of possibilities that the technology opens up for agents, buyers and sellers alike, we’re beginning to see the key players in Property playing their hand. And what real estate agent is more of a key player than Foxtons?
This week’s announcement that Foxtons has launched its new virtual reality platform represents a groundbreaking step in the world of PropTech.
Foxtons Sales Managing Direct, Andrew Weir, has announced that Foxtons is “delighted to launch this fantastic experience, re-affirming our ethos of innovation and exceptional service. The excitement and fascination with which the new platform was received confirmed our belief that this technology has a viable place in our industry”.
A viable place, indeed! Far from being a swanky example of high tech gadgetry, however, the launch of virtual reality headsets ushers in a revolution for the Property industry. The technology will allow Foxtons’ agents to overcome the challenges associated with organising physical viewings of a property.
Streamlining Sales and Lettings
Bypassing the need to access the property directly, virtual reality means that the agents will not have to work around the existing occupants, arrange access or even deal with the tricky London traffic!
This will also save a lot of time for buyers and prospective tenants, for whom the necessity to travel to an average of 15 properties before deciding on one, can be drastically cut by the use of this technology.
For sellers and landlords, too, the increased exposure that virtual reality can offer, without the inconvenience of regularly preparing a property for viewings. What’s more, increased exposure implies a quicker route to sale, something that all parties will be grateful for.
Foxtons’ virtual reality platform was launched during a private event at the Boat Race day, featuring the exclusive Fulham Reach development. Now, the experience is live and available to the public at Foxtons Islington office, where users can enjoy the experience of virtually walking through the stunning apartment at Fulham Reach, exploring the luxurious communal facilities it offers.
Development and Features
The technology Foxtons uses was developed over the space of two years, in partnership with UI Centric. Combining a headset fitted with a Samsung 7, with an interactive sequence of 360 degree photos of every room in the property, the headset tracks the wearer’s head and eye movement.
In this way, the user is able to move virtually through the property, whilst following a number of clearly defined hotspots. Views from balconies and windows are included in the virtual tour, as well as the ability to visit communal areas and facilities, and to explore an interactive floor plan.
The Next Step for Foxtons
That the launch has only just occurred means that Foxtons virtual reality platform is still in its early days. However, having proven the concept and the platform itself, Dan Rafferty, Foxtons Chief Information Officer explains that Foxtons are now “approaching a stage of extending this functionality to all our offices, featuring all of our properties where possible, offering our customers the option to virtually view multiple properties over a coffee in one of our local offices”.
Earlier this week, I touched on how video technology like Facebook Live and Periscope are revolutionising property viewings overseas. One can easily see the next inevitable step, as the overseas property market adopts virtual reality headsets in the way Foxtons has. As an immersive future for real estate becomes ever-clearer on the horizon, the ways in which virtual and augmented reality are set to impact both the domestic and overseas markets continue to grow, too.
Ireland’s leading real estate firm, Sherry Fitzgerald recently announced their own virtual reality platform, and with Foxtons hot on the heels, the clear question is: whose VR offering can we expect to see next in the industry?