Relocations are becoming an accepted and perhaps even an expected part of corporate life. In 2014, some 49 percent of firms saw relocation volumes increase, according to a 2015 survey by Atlas Van Lines, with higher numbers expected once the final tally is in. While such moves present a range of challenges, virtual reality in real estate offers a way to make the path a little smoother.

Relocation to a distant city may require frequent travel. It can feel like a roll of the dice, with limited opportunities on a hurried visit to see potential homes and their neighborhoods. Relocation, likewise, weighs heavily on employers, who are often helping to foot the bill for what may feel like an uncertain venture.

Virtual reality provides a cost-effective alternative to pricey travel, and it can help nervous professionals overcome their relocation jitters in a number of ways:

  • Virtual reality in real estate puts the buyer back in control. In a typical home walk-through the buyer will follow the agent’s lead, experiencing the home in a planned sequence, with specific stops along the way. VR allows the potential buyer to loop back, meander and experience the space at his or her own pace.
  • The travel situation changes dramatically with VR. Through use of a simple headset, the buyer can take 360-degree tours of multiple homes and diverse neighborhoods in advance of a visit. That way it’s possible to narrow the choices down and hit all the top options in a single visit.
  • VR offers a unique opportunity to get deep into the look and feel of something that isn’t even there yet: A home or an apartment block that’s still under construction. With rich, digital content, a VR presentation can present a stunningly realistic picture of what will be available, even if it isn’t there yet.

Virtual reality can also offer a bigger picture for those who want to look beyond the four walls of their potential new dwelling. While an in-person visit may show off the hardwood floors, it can easily blow past the bodega on the corner. The neighborhood is a critical piece of the homebuying experience. While we haven’t seen a lot of it yet, it’s likely that VR in real estate soon will include virtual tours of the surrounding areas, whether that’s a walk around the block or a 360-degree drive through the main streets. That’s something you simply cannot experience from a few hundred miles away without the sensory depth of virtual reality.

Experience Every Aspect

Homes transform during the course of a day, as sunlight changes to moonlight, street lights come on and lamps are lit. Even an in-person home tour won’t open up that experience, but a VR deep dive can help a homebuyer to experience the new space across a broader span of time.

Employers, meanwhile, are bound to come out ahead. The fewer trips an employee takes on the company dime, the more cost-efficient the relocation process will be. At the same time, the depth and nuance of a VR buying trip can help ensure that the employee lands in a place that’s comfortable. When one in four homebuyers express some regret at their choice, according to a survey from Redfin, employers would do well to make a relocation as smooth and satisfactory as they can, if only to ensure workers stay on board for the long haul.

Virtual reality lets a viewer step into a space to be immersed in the physical experience. For those looking to relocate, that capability will prove a powerful tool in the coming years. VR won’t replace a physical home visit, but its depth of content will help home buyers to be better informed and more thoroughly prepared as they ready themselves for the big move.