The potential of virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR) for the real estate sector is vast, and their immersive and realistic features are the primary reason they have gained traction in recent years.

Angelica Donati

Angelica Donati

AR has gained popularity because it offers users a more immersive experience. Through AR, users can view 3D models of a property, get an accurate representation of the size and layout of the space and even customise features such as furniture and fixtures. AR also allows agents to generate virtual tours and showings, which can save time and money. Additionally, AR can be used to create interactive marketing materials such as brochures and flyers, giving potential buyers an interactive experience before they even visit the property.

The use of MR is expanding because it allows real estate professionals to create virtual tours and immersive experiences for clients without having to physically visit the property. MR combines elements of both AR and VR to create a more interactive and engaging experience. Unlike VR, MR does not require the user to be completely immersed in a virtual environment and, unlike AR, MR does not require that the user be physically present in the same space as the digital elements. Instead, it allows for a combination of the two, providing a more realistic and immersive experience.

The need for and adoption of VR and AR technologies have advanced as a result of customers’ expectations for high-quality visuals, floorplans, virtual tours or live videos that have persisted since the period of pandemic-related restrictions on physical open houses. During Covid-19, real estate professionals had to turn to technology and the web to show off their properties, and those who didn’t embrace the latest tech were left behind.

In July 2021, Statista reported that the global AR/VR/MR market was worth $28bn (£22bn), and is expected to skyrocket to more than $250bn (£198bn) 2028.

While the average person may not have heard of MR, analysis performed by Market Research Future predicts that MR will grow by almost 50% by 2023, reaching a value of $9.21bn (£8bn). Thus, real estate professionals should start to consider how they can integrate this technology while it is still available.

At the beginning of 2023, Louis Rosenberg wrote an insightful article titled ‘Why 2023 will be the year of mixed reality’, stating that his assertion was founded on the principle of new MR products and technologies becoming available in mainstream markets this year.

Since construction is the foundation of real estate, MR could be a major help to the construction industry in addressing the current labour shortage. It can provide an efficient way to pre-visualise projects before commencing work, spot potential issues before breaking ground and ensure builds are accurate and of high quality. This technology is especially beneficial when working with materials that are on the heavier side. By giving crews access to MR technology, it could help them make the most of their time, minimise rework and create better results.

Furthermore, real estate agents can also reap many advantages from adopting MR technology. MR can enable realtors to collaborate with clients on designs while buildings are still in the process of being constructed, as well as allow realtors to close more sales by providing their clients with more extensive browsing options. By using MR, buyers can make changes to flooring finishes, furniture and colours, thus helping them to envision themselves in the space.

Moreover, from a buyer’s or renter’s viewpoint, selecting a new home can be overwhelming. It can be hard to determine if a space is suitable for their needs without living in it and observing how it works. The property could need costly changes that weren’t considered before purchasing.

MR also makes it easier for individuals to decide on a property by allowing them to view the interior, building and neighbourhood and McKinsey research suggests that customers now have higher expectations for tech-forward shopping, ecommerce and safety, so utilising MR could draw in those who are enthusiastic about new technology or those with limited mobility and health issues, or who are looking from abroad.

Overall, MR is highly likely to be a significant part of the real estate industry’s future. Unlike artificial intelligence, which is currently sparking moral and ethical concerns across industries, MR is a technology that provides a multitude of advantages during each stage of the real estate process – from building to buying – and we may very well see an increase in the adoption of MR in the not-too-distant future.

Angelica Donati is chief executive of Donati Immobiliare Group