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Virtual reality may transform real estate deals

More Florida home sellers could soon take advantage of cutting-edge technology to show potential buyers the benefits of their properties. With some tech companies forecasting they will soon be able to build three-dimensional computer simulations of apartments and homes in about a day, more real estate agents and private sellers may adopt virtual reality to facilitate digital tours of their spaces.

The technology isn't limited to existing properties. Unlike real-world tours, which generally take place in completed spaces, VR simulations can let potential buyers explore buildings that are still under construction. One New York developer even plans to use it to create models that let customers and designers simulate how spaces might look and feel with their chosen decor. Another suggested application is simulating homes that require serious renovation to show the intended results and increase appeal. Property owners may even employ VR to help potential tenants or customers pick from alternate floor plans.

Experts say that as the presence of VR headsets and higher-powered computers becomes more widespread, more sellers and buyers will benefit from the technology. In these early stages, it is likely to cater mostly to high-end investors and prospective property owners, but the existence of devices that use smartphones as VR displays may spread the practice more rapidly.

Changing technology could redefine how the residential real estate buying process works. New ways of doing business may also lead to unique legal challenges. Virtual walk-through tours and other technologies might misrepresent a given space, potentially compromising any deals based on such projections. Sellers and buyers who use new technologies to facilitate real estate transactions should ask an attorney about the legal ramifications of doing so.

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