Virtual and Augmented Reality – Impact on NYC Real Estate

In New York City, the real estate market is reaching a cooling period, with price reductions happening across the board. It is known that NYC real estate attracts participation from consumers across the world and virtual reality is quickly becoming a new medium for interaction in this market.

Virtual Reality (VR) as a medium has largely been associated with video gaming over the past few years, but the applications of virtual reality devices far exceed that of the video game world. Virtual reality fits neatly into increasing the interest of the real estate market with the ability to view a property using a virtual reality headset and have an immersive experience in being inside of a potential real estate investment, even when you are halfway around the world.

Virtual reality technology currently exists for mass consumption, though it has not performed well. E3, the largest video game conference in the country that showcases hardware and software developments for the gaming world, this year highlighted the use of virtual reality in gaming with a few headsets: the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and the Sony Playstation VR, which we are expecting in October 2016.

vr-re-awesome-nycDevelopers are already releasing content for these platforms, but despite this content, VR sales are in decline as users and makers have found that component problems in the technology have slowed shipping. That being said, virtual reality is still slated to become a multi-billion dollar industry by 2020 and it’s becoming apparent that creative applications for the technology are still being discovered.


Facebook is already delving into a similar piece of technology that works in tandem with virtual reality headsets. The introduction of Facebook 360 videos and pictures allow social media  users to interact with the video or picture and see every angle. Using your finger or mouse, you can move around the screen and be immersed in the media. This means, that for the realm of real estate, you are able to take a picture or video of each room and allow the potential buyer to actually look around the room, via Facebook, and get a clear idea of what’s in the room, even if the client is not physically in the space. That can be taken one step further with Facebook’s integration with virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, which will allow you to get a first-person experience with the property. As Facebook rolls out this feature, which works with the panorama function of the camera, users can already go out to experience what virtual reality via Facebook 360 has to offer.

vr-re-nycStartups have already appeared to take advantage of this still largely evolving market that is virtual reality. Littlestar is already collaborating with media companies such as ABC, Showtime, and Discovery to create immersive virtual reality content exclusively available on the Littlestar network. You can access the content from their apps and their website and they are compatible with VR devices such as Oculus Rift, the Sony Playstation VR, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR. In fact, right now fans of the series “Hap and Leonard” on Sundance TV can get a full 360-degree virtual reality tour of the house on the show. Every room is accessible and you can zoom in and out to see what is taped to the refrigerator, the electrical outlets, and the award on the side of the bookshelf in the shape of a grenade. Already, you can see that a full view of a home can be given today. This is an application of virtual reality for the real estate market at-large that can happen now, whether it be with a virtual reality headset or with 360 photos and videos. The technology is there and, for NYC in particular, with its vast amount of buildings and unparalleled real estate market, this could not only boost the sales of virtual reality headsets, but it can also boost the real estate market since it will allow clients domestic and abroad to put themselves into the property they want to buy and receive a true virtual tour from the real estate agent. Virtual reality technology will allow real estate agents to walk around and give potential buyers tours of the space from the comfort of the buyer’s living room.

vr-reThough this use of virtual reality is indeed attractive, it can be and already has been taken another step further. Voke, a startup that has already seen investments from the likes of the Sacramento Kings, uses super high resolution cameras and virtual reality technology to capture sounds and sights live. Right now, through Voke’s apps, you can not only view a football or soccer game live with a VR device, but you can also get live stats as you watch the game and instant replay, while focusing on any player or any coach from any angle with your VR device. You can also view concerts live, not only getting 360-degree view, but experiencing 360-degree sounds. For NYC real estate in the future, that means that real estate agents can give a live, virtual reality tour of listings with their client, making scheduling a viewing easier and more convenient for all parties involved. Granted, virtual reality technology is still new. There are people that still get nausea from wearing the headsets and the resolution isn’t always crystal clear. Also, most importantly for the consumer, it can be expensive. Not everyone is equipped with a virtual reality headset, especially the higher-end models. Though, there are cheaper alternatives out there, such as the Google Cardboard which is compatible with most mobile phones and costs way less than $600, while still providing a virtual reality experience that is worth having.

ar-real-estate-nycVirtual reality technology exists today and the applications for it are growing daily. For NYC real estate, a market that constant moves and has climbed for the last few years, virtual reality integration will provide the necessary component to increase demand in an already oversupplied market. Clients who want to invest in property in NYC, but don’t have the time to visit it physically, can now get a complete immersive experience of a listing using virtual reality technology and real estate companies can start rolling out accessible experiences via collaborations with Facebook 360, Littlestar, and Voke to drive interest and, eventually, increase sales. This action also increase the interest and sales of virtual reality devices and, most importantly, virtual reality experiences, which is the true investment for the consumer.  Find about drones in Real Estate and how it can affect nyc construction industry.

Thomas Arbuckle II

is a Staff Reporter at Silicon NYC’s Startups section and in his fourth year of study at Columbia University as a B.A./B.S. candidate in Music & Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Music Performance. Thomas continues to explore a variety of industries until he gets a contract to be in "Hamilton."