The UK’s first development with virtual show apartments?

UK developer Higgins Homes claims it is the first to use VR technology to give tours of virtual show apartments to buyers.

Virtual reality is something more traditionally associated with video games, but it is on the up in the real estate world, as it opens up the possibility to view properties remotely, without even having to be in the same town.

In The Philippines, for example, portal has teamed up with Japanese electronics company Ricoh and distributor CameraHaus Concepts Stores to offer agents and brokers discounted Ricoh Theta S cameras to upload 360-degree photos of properties.

Now, though, a UK developer is going one step further. Higgins Homes says that Clissold Quarter in Stoke Newington is the first of its kind to use virtual reality technology to allow customers to walk-through its apartments before they are built.

The Virtual Reality Marketing Suite uses floor plans and computer-generated images to create an interactive environment. The system is produced by VMI Studio, which has installed two Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets in the Stoke Newington sales and marketing suite. Using the headsets, customers can experience a fully immersive walk-through of the apartment, exploring it at their leisure.

Clissold Quarter consists of 158 one, two and three bed apartments, duplexes and penthouses. The development overlooks the 54 acres of beautiful parkland with easy access to its facilities, which include a butterfly dome, summer paddling pool, tennis pavilion and organic market garden. Clissold House, the Grade II-Listed former private villa, which sits in the centre of the park, now acts as a café and function rooms.

Jeremy Marcus, sales and marketing director, Higgins Homes, comments: “We saw this as an exciting opportunity to use the latest technology available to present potential buyers with a new and exciting experience. Using the headsets, users can walk through one of our two bedroom apartments in a fully interactive way.”

Fergus Byrne from VMI Studio explains: “We took this software and imported it into an AAA games engine, and created an interactive environment. By simply putting on a virtual reality headset, consumers are now able to walk-through and feel like they are actually in the space. There is virtually no lag time, which normalises movements on visuals and makes the experience feel authentic.”

The software also allows users to make changes to the space, altering the colour of the walls or the type of floor and kitchen units, so a customer can tailor the home to their own tastes.

“We wanted every potential buyer to have the opportunity to interact with the property, from examining the bathroom, to listening to the wind blowing on the balcony through headphones,” adds Marcus. “The feedback from the public has been fantastic and the quality is superb, so you get a true feel for the space.”