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Creating an immersive tenant/buyer experience

How firms are using augmented and virtual reality

Today’s overwhelmed customers are inundated with real-time information about many products and services. While consumers are certainly more empowered, informed, and spoilt for choices, the flip side is that this information overload also makes decision-making more challenging. As a result, various industries are offering high degrees of personalization and customization to create memorable experiences.

January 17, 2018

A blog post by Surabhi Kejriwal, Real Estate research leader, Deloitte Support Services India Pvt. Ltd.

In the real estate and construction (RE&C) industry, companies have to consider different approaches to catch the attention of the overwhelmed customers, both individual and institutional. Although one may argue that there is limited scope for personalized and customized experiences as we are dealing with immovable property that requires in-person visits, RE&C companies now have opportunities to leverage technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Now the mention of AR/VR technologies creates images of gaming and sci-fi movies. But, both have the potential to change the property buying, leasing, and usage experience. Let’s look at its potential application to the RE&C world.

virtual reality headset icon

Construction and design process

Current scenario: A construction company and client typically experience a construction site through a full-scale model or prototype. Any changes in design results in cost and completion time escalation. Further, it is difficult to visualize intricate details at early design stages.

The AR/VR edge: Architects can use VR at the initial design phase to test and evaluate different design ideas.1 This enables more informed design solutions. AR technology can be used for developing virtual design at full scale. The use of virtual components for physical objects can save the current prototype costs. Further, companies can add nuanced details around fixtures and fittings to create a better sense of the finished development.

For example, JLL and Studio216 offer 360-degree immersive views of projects at early design stage, including detailed layout of fixtures and fittings, from anywhere in the world.2 Next, using VR technology, construction companies can develop better connection with the space as they can imagine and gauge reactions of their clients. According to Boaz Ashkenazy, co-founder of Studio216, "Virtual reality's photorealism can zoom in on selling-point details of surfaces and lighting, as well as immerse you in views from a veranda that feel utterly real. Potential buyers or renters now have an emotional connection to what they're experiencing."3

Overall, companies can increase communication and reduce back-and-forth between architects, contractors, and client. The companies can also offer enhanced visual elements and customization at early design or redevelopment stages. Eventually, the technologies would result in cost and time savings and a superior client experience.

Purchase-sale/leasing experience

Current scenario: Real estate (RE) owners, brokers, and sales agents use a variety of techniques to attract and engage property buyers or tenants. These range from in-person to virtual property tours. Over the past few years, they’ve also increased the use of smartphones and tablets to increase client engagement.

The AR/VR edge: RE owners and developers can use a combination of AR and VR, commonly known as mixed reality, to allow potential buyers or tenants to visualize the new property and enhance the user experience. They can create a 360-degree immersive experience for the potential client and offer multiple finished site options. This would allow owners and developers to replace the current practice of display homes/sites and offer more customized interior options. It may also expand the geographic reach of potential clients.

For example, New York-based RE advisory firm, Newmark Knight Frank offers VR walk-throughs of office buildings under development to prospective tenants. Further, brokers and sales agents can use AR-based apps to create brochures of properties and even provide various views, such as the neighborhood, park, etc. Overall the intuitive and immersive experience would expand the pool of potential buyers/tenants, save costs, further empower clients from initial stages of a development, and increase satisfaction.

Bottom line: Experiential real estate and construction is the future. AR and VR are two technologies that can enable superior experience creation. Similar to any new technology, companies need to consider the return on investment from potential investments in these technologies. In addition, companies would benefit from understanding the flexibility and scalability of these technologies at various stages of use.

1Kim O’Connell, “4 Tips to Get Started With Virtual Reality in Architecture”, Autodesk, November 16, 2016.
www.jll.com/vr, accessed on January 4, 2018; ‘JLL introduces virtual reality tool for real estate design and build,’ JLL Vietnam press release, February 26, 2017.
Coeli Carr, “The 3 Best Industries for Virtual Reality,” Inc. Magazine, July/August 2016 issue.
4 Lois Weiss, “VR tours put the ‘real’ in real estate,” New York Post, April 25, 2017.
www.credencys.com, accessed on January 4, 2018.

QuickLook is a weekly blog from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services about technology, innovation, growth, regulation, and other challenges facing the industry. The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not official statements by Deloitte or any of its affiliates or member firms.

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