Most people who have tried to buy a house or apartment have spent hours looking through offers just to visit a place that looked nothing like they imagined. Others might have driven to six different locations just to realize they weren’t exactly what they were looking for. Having spent time and money on the trip, people get very frustrated when this happens.

It’s obviously hard to realistically represent a 3D environment with 2D images. And unfortunately, even the best photos and visualizations won’t show you how the space will look with different lighting and furniture. What’s our solution? Give virtual house tours and 3D visualizations instead of standard images. You’ll gain happy clients but also save money and time!

What is a virtual tour of a house?

A virtual tour of a house is an application with a faithfully modeled representation of a place that’s for sale or rent, even if it’s not built yet. It’s used to give potential clients a good idea of what the house looks like. You can use this idea in different ways, including creating a PC program, mobile application, AR application, or – what’s most exciting – a VR experience. You can even develop a multiplatform solution if there’s a need.

Why is a virtual tour of a house so great from the client’s perspective? First, it allows them to see not only how the place will look but how they will feel in it, how spacious it will be and how its appearance will change throughout the day. 3D architectural walkthroughs also allow us to simulate how changing weather conditions affect the illumination of the house.

One more not-so-obvious way to upgrade a virtual tour of a house is to add the option to configure and personalize the space. We mean the furniture and elements of the interior, like window frames or wall colors. Customer service statistics show that 90% of customers would pay more for personalized services. Now that’s an impressive number!

Benefits from a business perspective

We’ve talked about the advantages of virtual house tours from the buyer’s perspective. And that already gives us our first business benefit – more satisfied clients who make more informed decisions. But how else can your company profit from using the technology?

A portion of the people who come to see an apartment or house are just curious or want to see the place, although they’re not necessarily interested in purchasing it. Having virtual walkthroughs on your website should make fewer of these people visit, which saves time. They also people get a better idea of what you’re offering. This means you can expect fewer undecided consumers who are unlikely to make an actual purchase, thus saving time and money on traveling to the place.

The configurators we mentioned can also be used by real estate agencies for virtual home staging. This way, they won’t have to buy furniture and spend money arranging a physical space. All they need is a computer and a fraction of the time they would otherwise spend.

Using virtual & augmented reality

There are a few approaches you can take if you’re a real estate agency that wants to use extended reality (XR). You can create virtual reality walkthroughs of places you offer. These can use either advanced or semi-advanced headsets, so you’ll probably have to own a few devices and invite clients to your office. Or you could create experiences designed for smartphone-based headsets like the Google Cardboard.

Alternatively, you can use augmented reality. What’s great is that it can present both the outside and inside of a building. And all you’d need is a smartphone or tablet!  A 3D model could be displayed on the floor or table, and you can pass through the walls with your device to see the interior. Or you could use AR for virtual home staging if you want to sell some units as built by the developer.

Real estate agent conducts a virtual tour of a house

VR case study – ArcViz

At 4Experience, we had the chance to work on VR architectural visualizations before. Just recently, we completed an impressive project for a company called Strange Stars Entertainment. It consisted of two modules called ArcViz and Arena. Both used the same core solution – a multiplayer VR arena with advanced motion tracking.

ArcViz provides a 1:1 scale viewing of architectural designs in a virtual environment. Our client desired to offer professionals in the architecture field a cutting-edge and contemporary tool to present their concepts. The objective was to use VR to create an immersive experience and integrate practical tools into the setting.

To quickly produce different environments for several clients that wished to utilize ArcViz, our client received a tailored scenario editor. As for the end users, theycan physically move about the virtual area with VR and motion tracking, significantly improving the presentation’s realism and naturalness.

AR case study – ModiModi

Another application we worked on was an AR home configurator for ModiModi. It allowed users to display virtual models of furniture in real interiors, making it easier to visualize how the space would look when furnished. This idea could be used for virtual home staging as a cheaper alternative to virtual reality solutions.

Experienced Art Director talks about virtual house tours

We once again asked Maciej Bugajski, our Art Director, for his professional look on the topic. Maciej has worked on the ArchViz VR project with his team, so he has hands-on experience with 3D architectural visualizations. Let’s see how he answered a few intriguing questions.

Who can benefit from 3D architectural walkthroughs besides people who want to buy or sell real estate?

Virtual tours are increasingly used by architectural studios that want to show their project to real-estate developers before the construction begins. Architects themselves can use 3D visualizations to image and better understand the spatial distribution of their designs. 

Engineers and architects have to cooperate on most projects, so seeing their combined efforts in virtual reality helps comprehend how each decision affects the end result. Some plugins even allow automatic importing of models from CAD software and Rhino to Unreal and Unity. However, I must point out that these models are usually unoptimized and problematic.

What does creating a virtual tour of a house look like from your perspective?

The process is always adjusted to the needs of a given company. If final plans or models created by the team of architects are available, we can build on them. Next, we optimize them and prepare them for a VR experience. Some people think optimization means worsening the quality, but that’s not true. For example, many problems with displaying materials and identifying objects can be fixed in this process.

You should keep in mind that there is a difference between real-time engines used for VR, like Unity and complex lighting simulations in RedShift, Vray or Arnold. With a virtual reality headset, you need a framerate of 72, 90 or even 120 FPS, whereas these advanced engines need minutes or even hours for a complete render. That’s why many physical and optical effects like ambient occlusion and aliasing are simplified for real-time engines.

Similarly, 3D models for such engines should also have fewer polygons. But fortunately, we have several techniques that enable us to present complex shapes of any size. For example, normal maps and imposters. As you can see, preparing models for so-called rendering (realistic simulation of light effects) is different from preparing them for real-time engines. But with the right know-how, you can deliver hyperrealistic results in both.

What should a business that wants to create a 3D architectural app know and be ready for?

If you’re interested in creating a virtual tour of a house, you should prepare yourself for an upfront conversation about the identity of your brand, your target audience, where the application will be used and what your budget is.

Apps like this can use movie techniques and architectural solutions like lighting engineering or interior design. All these can be used to carry subtle information about your brand. We’ve got a lot of aces up our sleeves to help you convey your message, whether you work for a luxurious high-end business or a rebellious brand for young adults. But we’ll need a lot of detailed information from you to choose from the abundance of solutions we know.

To reduce costs, we would ideally like to rely on previously performed work, i.e., plans from CAD programs or 3D models. Unfortunately, as I said before, for the best experience, these models need to be reworked for them to work smoothly with the rendering engine. For this, we can cooperate with your architect or interior designer or offer our own expertise. We have people on our team who have an architectural and artistic education.

Let’s sum up

If you’re in the business of selling or renting houses, you may want to consider offering a virtual tour of a house instead of relying on 2D images or in-person visits. Digital walkthroughs offer a more faithful representation of the house, and potential buyers can get a sense of the space, how it looks at different times of day, and how it would look with different furniture.

And how can your business benefit from giving virtual tours of real estate?

  • reducing the number of visits by undecided consumers
  • saving time and money on driving to different locations
  • easier and more efficient home staging
  • increasing client satisfaction

Creating a virtual tour of a house from scratch can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but working with an experienced team can help reduce the burden. If you’re thinking about developing your own immersive experience, leave us your e-mail address. One of our experts will get back to you within a few hours!

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