Virtual Reality revolutionizing the housing market

Most of us have tested VR glasses for cool games and exciting videos, but after an extreme roller coaster ride or a shooting game with your headset on, you might wonder what would be the actual place and time in everyday life where this technology could bring real value to your life.

One of these fields is the housing market. VR technology opens a new kind of opportunity for customers to get a sneak peek of the houses not yet build. Usually newly built houses have been visualised with the help of floor plans and conceptual drawings for the customer, but in reality this doesn’t really enlighten the structure and feeling of the house. Crucial elements in the house are the use of light, ceiling hight and feeling of openness — these are all left out when analyzing the apartment through a floor plan.

APARTMENT SHOWING OF THE ONE NOT YET BUILT

YIT launched their virtual reality world application alongside with 3D modelling on computer first time in Slovakia on 2016. This spring the possibility to see the upcoming housing projects through virtual reality was brought to YIT’s Finnish customers. With the virtual reality experiment, YIT focuses on finding out how well VR technology can suppliment the buying process and customer experience of a new, not yet build apartment.

I visited YIT Asuntomyynti and had a chance to dive into one of their apartments with the VR headset on. The VR model is built off an apartment which is in the building phase, so it wouldn’t be even possible to visit it physically without the technology.

With the old way I would have been sitting by the table with Jukka, measuring the floor plan and picking out the colour of kitchen cabinets from a colour palette. Instead of this, I was standing inside the apartment, walking through every furnitured room and changing the cabinet colours by a click of the VR controller. And the tour didn’t stop inside the apartment, I was able to see the front and backyard of the house as well. Modeling photos of houses not build yet have been of course done before, but as I stated before these often lack the feeling of the apartment; the amount of light, ceiling height or shininess of the parquet. All of these factors were implemented in the VR experience, as I was really standing inside the apartment and spinning around to see every inch of the place.

I think the coolest part of the experiment was the perfectly finished details in the VR model. When you turned your head, the sunlight coming from the windows changed it’s angle and when you moved closer to the kitchen cabinets you could see the glint of the paint. I wouldn’t call the experiment very different from a real apartment shoving — maybe only better in terms of the possibility to change the cabinet, floor or wall colours.

In case there is a bigger companion viewing the apartment, it is expected that not all of them can be inside the apartment at the same time. Same problem occurs in case someone feels highly uncomfortable with the VR set on. The 3D model created for the VR experience works in these situations as well and gives much more better vision of the apartment through a screen compared to old style floor plans.

FUTURE OF THE VIRTUAL REALITY IN HOUSING

As someone who has just struggled with finding a new apartment and visited multiple apartment showings, I couldn’t help but think if virtual reality could be brought into apartment retail market as well. Perhaps the most commonly heard sentence in apartment showings is that it doesn’t match the pictures — I believe this is something we all have faced as well. I would have loved to pick out 20 places in Helsinki downtown and go see them through VR in one location. If ten of them wouldn’t look like in the pictures, no problem, I still would have saved several hours of going from a showing to another.

Now, that we have the possibility to see something not yet built, can we next feel something not yet existing? This is a subject we also discussed with Jukka during my VR apartment showing. YIT is already testing the implementation of touch effect into the VR experience with censors that are attached to real life objects and combined with the ones in the virtual reality. This makes it possible to sit on a sofa in your not-yet-built apartment or check out the inside of cabinets by opening them by your own hands.

On the side of construction, with VR technology it is a lot easier to avoid mistakes in the design of buildings or in user experience. Apartments can be designed much more specifically with VR 3D models and design mistakes can be spotted much more clearly. At the moment the cost of making a VR model from every apartment is not cost effective enough for the construction part, but whilst VR is coming more popular, we might also witness this happening.

It’s not about whether you would take VR as an inclusion when talking about the housing market, it’s a question of when will you do this.