This spring, Amol Shah and his husband Jens Audenaert were intrigued by an Upper East Side apartment they saw online, so they did what any prospective buyers would do: They took a tour.
Shah, 33, who works in ad sales at Facebook, and Audenaert, 37, a Fortune 500 company exec, started on the street just outside the building, called Vitre.
The couple moved into the lobby, where they took a moment to examine the space’s details and finishes. After that, they went upstairs to a 16th-floor spread, where they gawked at the East River views and examined the closet space.
All in all, it was a typical Manhattan house hunt — except that the building they were checking out didn’t exist. Shah and Audenaert was on a virtual reality tour cooked up by Vitre’s sales team to help sell a development that was at the time — as Shah put it — “just a hole in the ground.”
Most often associated with gaming, virtual reality, or VR, is also cropping up in the world of real estate. The technology is giving developers and marketers a more immersive way to push their in-progress product: residential properties.
Builders and brokers have long used tools like renderings and model apartments to drive pre-construction sales. But VR takes things a step further, says Stephen McArdle of Brown Harris Stevens, which is repping the 48-unit Vitre at 302 E. 96th St. (with asking prices from $955,000 for a one-bedroom to $4.3 million for a three-bedroom penthouse).
Buyers “get an opportunity to go into the space and really get a sense of what it looks like,” he says. “They get a sense of the ceiling heights, the views. They are able to walk through the units as they really are.”
For Shah, the VR experience was a game changer. “When you’re signing the contract, your lawyer tells you that the most important thing is the offering plan, which will tell you everything that is actually going to be delivered at the end of construction,” he says. “But the reality is, a lot of real estate is emotional. [With VR], you can actually walk around the unit and take into account the floor plan and views — and stuff you wouldn’t be able to see in any sales center mock-up or drawing.”
The couple ended up purchasing a two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse, which will be ready in the second half of 2018. The starting price for that type of unit is $2 million.
VR similarly helped seal the deal for…