Virtual Reality Updates Real Estate Game



If someone wants to visualize life in a new home at the Indigo gated community, she doesn’t need to travel to a Lakewood Ranch model home. A website unveiled Monday features virtual tours with interactive floor plans, building upon technology utilized by Neal Communities over the past five years to give a next-level exploration of the property. It’s just one of the ways new technology continues to change how homes get sold in the region and elsewhere.

“It really helps people to understand floor plans and all that you have to offer,” says Leisa Weintraub, Neal Communities spokeswoman. “Touchscreen is so widely accepted now with iPhones and iPads, people are comfortable using it.” And sales people can alter floor plans in ways that just wouldn’t be feasible with models. If someone wants a swimming pool, patio or an extra wing on a home, the change can be made in a virtual representation of a house with a few strokes.

Of course, Neal Communities isn’t the only firm digitizing its home tours. At BLVD Sarasota, Key Solutions Real Estate set up a virtual reality sales center downtown to showcase amenities and views in the new condominium. With tours developed by Sarasota company Imerza, sales representatives marketing the luxury units there can give a tour of an unfinished space and even change the flooring, finishes and fixtures for those exploring the virtual environment.

And one thing that could never be done with a model unit, the digital tours can also showcase the views out of every individual spot in the tower. Using camera-equipped drones, pictures were taken of the view in all directions from each floor of BLVD, then the resulting images get used as backdrops. “Everything is built out through virtual reality,” says Cooper Daves, a sales consultant for BLVD.

Daves says the sales people for the condo like to equip potential buyers with 3-D virtual reality goggles to give an immersive experience, while Weintraub says Neal typically relies on virtual tours using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The different experiences get tailored to the customer base companies are trying to reach. But particularly for builders and developers who often sell product that’s not yet been completely constructed, the new uses in technology offer new and impressive ways to showcase community amenities and luxury features in homes in a way superior to brochures filled with two-dimensional renderings.

Rendering courtesy Neal Communities: A digital rendering of the Silver Sky model of home, as seen on the Indigo website.

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