News & Updates

Transforming Real Estate Sales with Immersive Experiences

By George Lawton05.22.24
Transforming Real Estate Sales with Immersive Experiences

The digital transformation of the real estate industry is now in full swing with a growing wave of advanced technologies dramatically changing how sellers, buyers, agents, and brokers view and transact properties. An industry not traditionally known for its embrace of new tech suddenly has its arms wide open, looking for the next big thing.

In fact, seemingly every day there’s a new ‘proptech’ company founded. The total number of tech providers looking to grab a piece of the world’s biggest asset class now numbers in the thousands. They offer everything from virtual reality (VR) home tours to augmented reality (AR) home-staging services – and beyond.

And, of course, this is only the beginning. The transformation of this sector will only accelerate as more digital-native buyers enter the market and technology continues to evolve.

If we fast forward twenty years to the future, the way homes are bought and sold may look almost unrecognizable from how it does today.

Here’s a look at some of the key technology trends affecting real estate sales.

Virtual Real Estate: An Increasingly Mainstream Way to Tour and Sell Properties

Virtual real estate is the practice of using VR technologies to enable buyers to take virtual tours of properties – immersive experiences that simulate the live experience of walking through a home. Without ever leaving their couch, a prospective buyer can get a sense of a property's layout, design, and features – and what it feels like to be in the physical space. While this tech has shown promise for years, virtual real estate technologies have seriously taken off in the last five years. They’re now projected to increase to a total value of $2.6 billion (USD) in the real estate sector in 2025, up from just $800 million in 2020.

This is changing how buyers view and buy homes. It’s also expanding the potential buying pool for a property, which can now include anyone with access to the internet anywhere in the world. That means more leads, and, according to some studies, higher sale prices.

Virtual real estate is also being more commonly deployed for the sale of pre-build homes, where no physical space yet exists to be toured. Jamie Squires, President, Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing Ltd notes in a recent report that “Not only can virtual suites be rendered for online touring, but entire virtual presentation centres can be crafted, bringing an interactive and immersive experience to those interested in learning more about (or buying into) a given development.”

In April 2024, Matterport, a pioneer in the virtual real estate space, was acquired by CoStar Group for $1.6 billion (USD). CoStar is a provider of commercial and residential real estate information, analytics, and online marketplaces. The acquisition will enable greater scale and deployment for Matterport’s technology. Over time, it will also help to make the virtual real estate tour and experience even more common, amongst all types of buyers.

Generative AI Could Enhance Virtual Real Estate Tours in Ways We’re Just Starting to Imagine

Of course there’s also Generative AI, the current belle of the tech ball.

As consulting firm McKinsey notes in a recent article, Generative AI shows enormous promise to enhance virtual real estate tours in the future:

“Gen AI tools can help a potential tenant visualize exactly what an apartment would look like in, say, their preferred mid-century modern style or in cherrywood versus walnut finishes. This data can then be fed back into a model to predict which types of furnishings and finishes work best for different customer segments, improving prospect-to-lease conversion and shaping future capital expenditure decisions.”

Get Your Game On: The Real Estate Sector Embraces Game Engines Unreal Engine & Unity

Gaming engines like Unreal Engine and Unity aren’t just for gaming anymore. They’re revolutionizing the real estate industry by offering powerful tools for architectural visualization. These engines streamline the creation of 3D renderings and interactive experiences, making it easier for developers to showcase properties in immersive ways.

For example, New Zealand-based Buildmedia offers a fully immersive digital sales tool that accelerates and enriches the process of selling pre-build homes. Interactive features include “integrated videos and animations of the view from any room or level, and a virtual camera for instantly sending high-resolution renders to potential buyers. Customers can walk through any future environment while swapping architectural finishes and even adjusting the lighting.”

Prographers deliver photorealistic architectural renderings and virtual tours of pre-build properties for developers. The ability to manipulate lighting and textures in real-time helps highlight the best features of a property, making it far easier for developers to bring their building visions to life in the minds of potential buyers. And there’s value for the buyers too – they get a better sense of what they’re buying before they make the single biggest purchasing decision of their lives.

These kinds of advancements underscore a significant shift in real estate development and sales processes, where advanced technologies, once the domain of gamers, now play an increasingly central role in how real estate around the world is bought and sold.

The Future of Real Estate Sales

Real estate sales will likely look very different in the future. There are simply too many shifts – technology and otherwise - happening simultaneously for the status quo to last. Notably, in the United States, a settlement between the National Association of Realtors and home sellers could change the way realtors are compensated, with home buyers and sellers paying buying and selling agents separately, under different financial agreements. This could lead to technology reshaping or even cannibalizing the role of the real estate agent in some fashion.

This disruption could be driven by generative AI. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimates that the technology could generate $110-180 billion (USD) for the real estate sector.

And while there are also applications for things like Blockchain and Big Data in real estate sales, their exact impacts are unclear.

However, it’s now easy to predict that both VR and AR technologies will eventually be default tools for buyers and sellers of both pre-build and existing properties. They’re being used more and more frequently, and they add value to both buyers and sellers, consumers, and real estate developers. Their growth looks inevitable.

Ultimately, in today's competitive real estate market, investing in technology that enhances the presale process is crucial. By leveraging advanced tools and platforms, sellers can streamline sales, attract more qualified leads, and stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing industry.

PureWeb: Your Distribution Partner for Technology-Enabled Real Estate Sales

PureWeb offers a comprehensive solution for streaming interactive experiences.

We enable the distribution of everything from virtual real estate tours to XR-enabled pre-construction visualizations that help drive sales. We handle distribution to audiences anywhere in the world and manage the complexity of cloud orchestration with our platform – simplifying the entire process so that your team can focus on creating compelling experiences that serve your goals.

If you’re looking for a trusted partner to distribute your advanced Pixel Streaming and VR architectural visualizations, get in touch.