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AR Offers Competitive Edge in Real Estate

Real estate professionals use AR in exciting ways that bring imagination to life and offer buyers immersive views of properties.

CHICAGO – There’s an often-overlooked truism in the technology space that “new” doesn’t always mean new. Often, it means new to you. Take augmented reality (AR), for example. We’ve actually been using AR for fun for some time now — Instagram, TikTok, the Snapchat dog filter and Pokémon GO are just a few examples. AR is a general term covering where the real and virtual worlds intersect. It can be defined as using technology to add virtual elements to the user’s real-world experience to expand or enhance that experience.

What is new about AR are the innovative ways it can be used in multiple business domains, including real estate — powered by the incredible potential of artificial intelligence, many of which are either emerging or still to come.

A brief history of AR

In 1968, Harvard University professor and computer scientist Ivan Sutherland invented the first headset display that used computer-generated graphics to augment how users perceived the world. The term “augmented reality” was coined by a Boeing researcher in 1990. In 1998, AR was used in the first live NFL game to feature the 1st & 10 graphic system — what most viewers recognize as the yellow yard marker indicating first downs. In 2014, Google introduced AR glasses (Google Glass) that users could wear for immersive, Internet-enabled experiences. In 2017, IKEA introduced its IKEA Place app, which gave customers the ability to preview home décor and furniture options before making purchases. In 2018, the first AR real estate app that allowed users to view virtually staged images from Apple devices, Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty, was introduced.

Current real estate use cases

Real estate professionals use AR in exciting ways that bring imagination to life and offer buyers immersive views of properties. For example, potential buyers can use mobile device apps to scan property listings and explore 3D models of homes and interiors. These offer visualization and much more understanding than traditional floor plans and 2D images.

Combined with the power of generative AI , real estate professionals can use AR to market and show properties in more sophisticated ways than ever before. Virtual Staging AI(link is external) is an example of websites and apps that use generative AI to provide services that can be used to highlight and market properties. The AI algorithm can scan a photo and add elements like furniture, lighting fixtures, and landscaping. REimagineHome offers AI-enabled services including virtual remodeling, staging, landscaping, decluttering, and an under-construction property visualizer, to list a few.

The benefits of using AR technology in real estate are clear. Not only can real estate professionals gain competitive advantages by offering local and remote buyers convenient, interactive property viewing experiences — they can also realize business value and cost savings. Research indicates that agents and brokers who use AR to market properties see increased conversion rates of up to 40% and reduce staging costs by up to 97%.

Opportunities to take AR further

Real estate also happens to be a space in which there is tremendous potential for AR to further enhance the services real estate professionals can provide to customers and the business value they realize from these powerful tools.

AR tools are evolving that allow users to take a photo or look through a mobile device (e.g., smartphone camera or AR glasses) to turn a bedroom into an office or generate a view that removes everything from a room to see a blank slate of potential. Renovate AI(link is external) does just that and helps you plan interior and exterior renovations from property photos with incredible detail.

AR property tours: This will allow potential buyers in other cities to use mobile apps that generate virtual models of homes that interested buyers can tour, room by room, as if they are walking through the properties. Visualizing décor changes, renovation possibilities and 360-degree views of each room are all possible with AR using digital twins; a digital replica of a property. Matterport — a leader in real estate tech, immersive 3D digital property twins and AI — was acquired by CoStar to expand its development of transformative AI and digital twin technology for real estate.

Location-based AR: This coming-soon technology will allow a user who spots their dream house on a drive or walk to simply point their smartphone camera at the house. The AR app will immediately display detailed property specs, such as square footage, rooms/bathrooms, price, and a direct link to the listing agent.

The tech industry understands AR is a powerful economic driver — one on which tech investments are betting big. Research indicates that, in 2023, the global AR industry was valued at $56.3 billion. By 2032, it could well be worth $1.2 trillion.

AR’s value to you and your customers

A technology doesn’t have to be new to introduce innovation, potential and value to real estate. By combining the real and virtual worlds, agents and brokers can offer buyers value far beyond enhanced visualization. There are time and cost efficiencies, and opportunities for added customization and flexibility, improved communication, real-time updates, and more informed decision-making. And when tech-savvy buyers know about any technology, they will want to use it and even may come to expect it.

AR has been here for a while. Now is the time for real estate professionals to give their clients new ways to see more possibilities in existing properties and develop even better ways to market, show and sell them.

© 2024 National Association of Realtors® (NAR)