How to introduce AR into the buying and selling experience

A top producer shares how he uses the latest staging technologies

Have you ever heard a buyer complain about the wall color in your listing or wonder if the living room could accommodate their furniture? How many times have you had a listing that desperately needed staging, but lacked the time or budget to get the job done?

It would be fantastic if every buyer had the vision to overlook a property’s shortcomings, and every listing agent could physically stage each home in their catalogue. But where this combination is unlikely, tools like augmented reality (AR) and 3D virtual tours can help navigate challenges and clear the way for sales.

Ease your clients into augmented reality

Photo courtesy of Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty℠

It’s important to remember that the use of augmented reality in real estate is in its infancy, and a lot of people aren’t familiar with it yet. This tends to be especially true of my older clients, but most people are enamored by the technology once introduced, and see it as an exciting advantage.

Because AR adds a digital layer to what people see in front of them, I can use it mid-tour to show what a home would look like furnished. When you take a photo of an empty room and use your phone to add furniture from an app like Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty℠, you’re engaging with augmented reality. The app itself also becomes a tool you can give to the consumer, a value-add they can explore. As the apps improve and staging choices become more varied, I expect we’ll be seeing even more response from clients.

At an open house, AR definitely brings the cool factor, and that extends to the perception of the agent: prospective clients naturally think you’re more current and possess the technological tools to get their home sold.

Dive deeper into digital staging

Photo courtesy of Josh Gunter Photography / Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

Data from Forbes suggests that staged homes sell 87% faster than non-staged homes. But staging is also expensive and can’t always be accommodated within a seller’s timeframe. The tangible benefit to using AR and Curate, which is powered by roOomy, is that you can add preset furnishings to existing homes to create a kind of “virtual staging”. It can be used in one room or a whole house.

I also use our in-house staging partner to address a home’s potential flaws. If you have a “problem area” in a house — a dark dining room, perhaps — you can have it digitally adjusted in order to take away the negative.

Blend high tech with high touch

One of the tactics I use to increase clients’ comfort level with Curate is to create “storyboards”. I send the images of digitally-furnished rooms to the printer and have large glossy prints mounted gallery-style in the rooms where they apply. For a recent listing that was vacant, for example, I digitally staged the entire house. This process allows clients to see examples of furniture in each room, which in turn helps them to picture what it would be like to live there. Buyers can often relate to the storyboards, especially if they’re not yet at a point where they can connect emotionally to AR images as viewed on a phone or tablet. Storyboards bridge this gap.

In the end, people are always impressed by AR and tools like Curate, as well as 3D virtual tours, as clients can explore homes in a more immersive way. These are great tools to help buyers get a sense of what something will look like. I’ve personally seen this technology make a difference in sales; it has also helped me land new clients.

As real estate agents, we are always looking for new and better ways to present information to our clients so they can make what often amounts to their largest financial and lifestyle decisions. AR may be the way of the future, but it can be used today to cultivate both clients and sales.

Nick Church

A native Californian and REALTOR® with Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, Nick Church has been selling real estate full time along the Laguna and Monarch Beach coastline since 1984. He is well known for his personal service and cutting-edge approach to his business.


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty® network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 22,000 affiliated independent sales associates located in over 960 offices in 72 countries and territories worldwide. In 2017, the brand achieved a record global sales volume of $108 billion USD. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, each brokerage firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.