Seeing is Believing

Hatch Magazine

Nov 27, 2017

While a condo complex is under construction, prospective buyers usually can’t see inside. But future residents of The Park, Bankers Hill can take a virtual tour of their new home.

Virtual reality is gaining a foothold in the San Diego real estate market. Prospective residents of The Park, Bankers Hill are taking high-resolution virtual tours of the 14-story condo complex while it’s under construction, courtesy of Encinitas real estate development and investment company Zephyr.

Quite a few real estate listings around the country feature a VR tour, but those properties were scanned after they were built. Zephyr’s VR tour differs in that the images used were digitally rendered from architectural plans before they became a reality. Despite the lack of actual photography, viewers can still take a 360-degree look around a residence, go upstairs and downstairs, and see design details and other intricacies they might miss in a static shot. “For the industry and San Diego specifically, it’s groundbreaking,” says Zephyr’s vice president of sales and marketing, Amber Frankhuizen. It’s also working. As of August 18, about a quarter of the units in the complex had been sold, months ahead of the planned completion date.

The virtual reality market is expected to skyrocket. Goldman Sachs researchers are predicting that by 2025, virtual and augmented reality will be an $80 billion industry, roughly the size of the PC market today. Zephyr worked with Focus 360 and Blufish to bring their vision for digitally rendered VR tours to life, and they have other big ideas on the horizon.

“We envision endless possibilities with this technology,” Zephyr CEO Brad Termini says. “Someday, we’ll be able to design homes on the spot, change out features and finishes, add a room, etc.—all in real time while buyers ‘stand’ in the homes and provide feedback.”

Several other real estate companies use VR. Earlier this year, Brookfield Residential in San Marcos started using VR powered by Transparent House technology to offer tours of a property under construction, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Using Matterport technology, the Ramona-based Real Estate Inspection Company has also created VR tours of existing properties for big companies like Sotheby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker, and Century 21, and some local ones including Brush Real Estate, Downtown Condo Guys, The Home Team, Klose2Home, and Story Estates.


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