Sherry FitzGerald launch virtual reality viewings

Searching for a home in Ireland could be about to change forever with the news that virtual reality viewings are set to be introduced.

One of the country’s leading estate agencies, Sherry FitzGerald, have today announced plans to launch Europe’s first virtual reality platform for viewing houses.

Digitally profiled by an environment artist, the virtual version of the house gives potential buyers the chance to check out the property without ever stepping in the door.

Sherry FitzGerald director Brian Dooley said it was hoped that the new technology would also allow clients to virtually customise a home.

“We want to allow people to pick their kitchen finishes or wall colour finishes. Matching tile with a kitchen finish and a wall colour can be difficult,” he said.

“If you have a representation of that in virtual technology then you can make the decision in comfort.”

Sherry FitzGerald’s forway into VR comes as some of the world’s major tech players such as Google and Microsoft invest billions of dollars into what many see as the next big consumer technology.

For the initial launch, a very limited range of properties, such as the Rokeby Park development in Lucan, can be viewed using VR headsets in a select number of Sherry FitzGerald branches. However, if successful the plan is for each branch to have its own kit.

Sherry FitzGerald head of new homes Ivan Gaines said one of the main benefits of VR from a commercial point of view was being able to market an undeveloped property earlier than ever before.

“The principle reason for using the technology in Lucan was really to start the marketing campaign very early,” he said.

“The clients might have been aware of the floor plans and had some visualisation of what was to come, but given that we are a season or more from having a physical showhouse, VR gives them a sense of the house.”

Gaines said he doesn’t expect buyers to sign on the dotted line based on a VR viewing alone and that people will still want to see “the bricks and mortar” before making a decision.

Looking beyond the new home market, Dooley said the main challenge the company faces is adapting the VR technology to cater for houses that have already been built.

“The challenge is trying to make it mainstream, because 95% of what we sell is existing as opposed to new homes,” said Gaines.

“We’re working with various parties and introducing some 360-degree camera technology that we can use in existing builds.

“Perhaps we will have a virtual negotiator or voice overs talking you through various features, such as where the sun shines in and other key selling points,” said Gaines.

Sherry FitzGerald has confirmed that Samsung Gear VR headsets will be used for the viewings.

These were chosen because of their ability to provide “a comfortable, easy to use, high quality 360 degree experience of new properties.”

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