Aditya MadanapalleApr 26, 2017 14:15:24 IST
For real estate developers, it is a challenge to sell the properties they plan to build, before it has already been constructed. Initially, the customers got some idea of what they were paying money for through primitive means such as blueprints and brochures. Sample flats are commonly used to showcase a house, but there are several shortcomings to this approach.
A sample flat requires site visits from the potential buyers. After the visit, if the customer wants to get a second opinion from family and friends, at best this can be done through photos. At the same time, the rest of the property may not be constructed, and the customer may not get a clear idea of the surroundings. The sample flats are locked in to the view of the floor, and does not give a realistic idea of the view from the house on a drastically different floor.
Enter HDFC RED, one of India’s leading property portals. Using the latest technologies, the company facilitates creation of immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences that are custom made for every property, on demand. Each of the experiences are created from scratch, keeping in mind the unique requirements of every project, the real estate developer, and the potential buyers.
There are two variations of the VR experiences available. A desktop version, which provides a high quality, immersive and photorealistic experiences. Demonstrating the experience requires a high powered laptop, and a high end VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift. Agents selling the property can showcase the sample flats at remote locations using the portable and easy to use setup, or perform the demonstration at the sales office.
A lighter version of the experience can be made for smartphones. These applications can be installed on smartphones or tablets, and used by the potential buyers in combination with smartphone VR headsets, or Google Cardboard. Buyers can show their friends and family the sample flats, as well as the entire properties. If a VR headset is not available, the application can work with a gesture based interface.
Each app is custom made for the developer and the property. There are separate applications for each property on the application stores. It is not that you have to download one app from HDFC RED on the store, then select from a number of properties that can be viewed in VR. This keeps the footprint of the application on the system low, and while in the experience, consumers are not distracted with other properties. Just like the property portal, all the distractions have been stripped away to bring the focus on the property being sold.
Despite being mobile applications, the quality of textures, 3D assets and lighting are all of a higher quality than what is typically found in smartphone games. Each of the environments look like they are straight out of an advertisement for the property.
An appropriate game engine is picked for use, according to the project. Unity, Unreal, and CryEngine are some of the game engines used for creating the VR experiences.
The experiences are crafted so that the end user gets as clear a picture as possible of the property they are going to purchase. Drones are used to capture the environment, so the view looks exactly as it would. If capturing images through a drone is not permitted at the site, then the same view is captured from one of the neighboring buildings. The VR experiences are not static, and can have interactive elements as per demands of the project.
The same property can be viewed at different times of the day, such as day and night, to showcase the different lighting conditions. Doors open and close realistically, as customers take a virtual tour of the premises. The ambient music provides a mood for each of the areas, a dance floor may have upbeat music, while a swimming pool nearby might have more relaxing tunes playing. The end result is a calm and soothing environment, a safe haven of sorts where the user is likely to repeatedly return, to experience a little more of the property that they are planning to invest in. We were surprised to see a flock of birds flying out from behind a building while just taking a virtual walk around the exteriors.
One of the shortcomings of the sample flats is that interior designers have to permanently use one look and feel to the entire property. In the VR experiences, it is possible to present some options to the end user, who can experience the same flat as it would look with different embellishments. The tiles, painting, and texture on the walls can be changed on demand, if the project requires such toggles.
Having a virtual reality experience of the flat in the pockets of potential customers is a great way to drive sales. Every time the customer thinks about the property, they can just start up the app, and are instantly transported to the sample flat again. Any potential doubts about the flat that comes up in conversations with near and dear ones can instantly be clarified.
Apart from the VR experiences, the same applications can contain electronic brochures for the project, along with floor plans, and images of the amenities. A location card can display the time it takes to reach various points of interest, along with the ability to jump directly into an installed mapping program. Any additional information can be included, as per the requirements of the project or the developer.
The experiences can also have tours, which can be used to showcase the property and the environment to the customers. Typically, this means an exterior VR experience. There can be an automatic tour, or an interactive tour. Users or agents can tap different points of interest, such as walkways, parks, swimming pools, sky decks, and other features of the building complex. These locations can then be explored in VR.
For higher end properties, a VR experience is almost a requirement, considering how economical developing such an experience is. However, for the more affordable properties, a VR sample flat provides a spectacular experience to the end user, along with the convenience of having the sample flat in their pockets for ready reference at any time.
HDFC Red is providing a cutting edge and economical solution for real estate developers with the creation of custom VR experiences for upcoming projects. The experience serve to eliminate site visits entirely, and provide the customers with an interactive application superior to brochures, images, videos or blueprints.
Some of the VR experiences created by HDFC Red are for projects such as ‘Premiere by Panache’ by Panache Developers and ‘Signia Waterfront’ by Sunteck Realty. Both apps are available on the App Store and the Play Store.
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