Augmented Reality Real Estate Apps Changing the Landscape with Virtual Tours and More

Augmented Reality in real estate is connecting buyers to properties easier and saving agencies thousands of dollars while giving them a new way to market themselves and the homes and commercial buildings they represent.

By using augmented reality (AR), realtors and agencies can virtually stage a home, show potential buyers what a partially finished project will look like when it’s completed and give potential customers information on properties that are available to them in various neighborhoods.

It’s not just the realtors who can benefit from the development of AR. Homeowners can also use AR to create floor plans, measure their property and flip through several interior concepts to see how they will appear inside a building.

What is AR

Before we dive into how the development of AR technology is already disrupting the real estate industry, we should make sure we understand what it is.

A simple explanation is that AR is computer generated graphics overlaid onto the real world when viewed through a screen like a phone or tablet. For example, if you had an empty room, you could use AR to see that room full of furniture using your phone. Wherever you point your phone, it uses the camera and screen to display computer generated graphics of housewares, appliances, etc. inside the room.

Marker-based AR

Augmented reality can be broken down into some broad categories. The first is marker-based AR, which relies on scannable markers — such as QR codes — to tell the software where to place the overlaid computer graphics.

Sometimes GPS coordinates can act as markers, too.

Markerless AR

In contrast to that, markerless AR does not require the scanning of any markers to tell the software where to overlay the graphics. Instead, the software scans its surroundings to locate a suitable place to put the 3D model. If it’s a sofa, that could be a flat surface like a floor. If it’s glasses, the software will search for a face and if it’s clothing, the software will try to locate a body. Often, AR software is contained within an app, but it doesn’t always need to be. Web-based augmented reality can be accessed by just clicking or tapping on a link without the need to download anything.

Augmented reality vs virtual reality

Although closely related, there are some key differences between AR and Virtual Reality (VR). Unlike AR, where you still see the real world, VR is completely computer generated and you cannot see reality around you while using it. You are totally immersed in a computer generated environment viewable only with a specialized headset and other VR exclusive equipment.

Virtual reality also has myriad uses in real estate, most notably allowing clients to take a virtual tour when they cannot physically be at a location.

How AR in real estate is changing the game

There’s no doubt that every industry can benefit from offering clients an AR experience, but a Goldman Sachs report has identified realty as one of the main markets that augmented reality is capable of disrupting and estimates that by 2025, the AR and VR realty market could reach over $2.6 billion.

Property buyers appear to be on board with AR, too. In a recent Bank of America survey that queried 2,000 consumers, 36% of them said they would be willing to attend an open house via AR or VR.

Using AR can lead to cost savings for brokers, as it will allow them to stage houses with computer generated models of furniture instead of having to physically stage them and it will let buyers envision different interiors before they commit to one.

There is even the potential to utilize AR to make purchases. For example, if a homebuyer is using AR to see what a certain shade of paint will look like on the walls, they will be able to purchase that shade of paint right from the AR software they are using.

Benefits of using augmented reality apps for a real estate business

The benefits of using AR technology in real estate are many. The tools offer real estate brokers a way to save on costs while providing a more emotional connection to properties for potential buyers.

Augmented reality saves realtors time and money

Among the largest benefits is the time and money it will save real estate agents. Instead of having to spend the time and money staging a house with physical furniture, they can utilize AR to demonstrate to a customer how an empty house would appear filled with sofas, beds, lamps and more.

AR technology gives realtors global reach

With the help of an augmented reality real estate app, brokers can extend their reach around the world. If a customer is buying a house in another country, they need not visit the country where the house is to see it. Using AR or VR, the agent can allow them to remotely visit the property by giving them a virtual tour of the premises, complete with furniture.

AR helps facilitate emotional connections

Imagining your life in a new home or a new commercial property isn’t as impactful as being able to actually see it. With the help of AR apps, customers can go beyond their imagination and actually see a building before it’s built, giving them a stronger emotional connection to it and allowing realtors to more easily close on deals.

As a realtor takes guests through a house, they can weave a story into the augmented reality tour that comes to life better thanks to the ability to show people the potential a home has.

AR is a one-time investment

When companies develop their own AR portal for real estate, it will likely only be a one-time investment that will have a significant ROI for them. It’s not something they’ll need to put money into often, except maybe the continued development of 3D models.

AR will give early adopter realtors a competitive advantage

While AR is becoming more mainstream, it’s not quite there yet. If you’re an early adopter of AR in the industry, it will still retain that “wow factor” for your business, as customers will still be in awe of using the new technology. It will be a more unique and personalized experience for customers.

AR allows for interactive catalogs and advertisements

Photos, videos and text descriptions often don’t do a property justice, so AR can help heighten the experience for consumers by giving them a more interactive experience with the buildings in your catalogs.

AR provides you with valuable analytics

Immersive technologies can provide you with valuable analytics and insights about consumer behavior, like how many people are accessing your real estate AR tours and where those visitors are located, among other data. This can help you refine your marketing to appeal to a larger audience.

Augmented Reality uses in real estate

Let’s explore some ways augmented reality is actually being used right now in the real estate industry, from bringing blueprints to life to training new homeowners how to use the systems in their houses.

Virtual property tours

The most obvious use for AR and VR in real estate is doing completely virtual tours with VR or augmenting in-person tours with AR and letting clients get a better experience than photos or videos will provide.

Sotheby’s International Realty has been using VR for conducting virtual tours for some time now, with many of their clients buying homes in other countries and not always able to make an in-person visit.

They are now also using augmented reality to add a computer generated element to their in-person tours by letting customers swipe through a selection of curated interiors for a room they are viewing. For example, they can see a more traditional interior for the room, a more modern setup and a couple of other interiors put together by a professional decorator.

If customers are interested, they can also purchase the furniture and accessories they see while viewing the room if they want to recreate the aesthetic for real.

Viewing unfinished or future projects

Sometimes, a homebuyer or business client wants to see a finished project before the project is actually finished (or even started). That is where AR can come to the rescue. There are AR tools right now that can use a physical miniature model of a building to create a 3D rendering of the exterior and interior of it that is to scale. This allows realtors to show their clients the exterior of the building on the empty lot where it will be built and then walk “inside” of it to let clients experience how it will appear from the inside.

The Realar Places app transforms a 2D floor plan into a life-sized augmented reality walkthrough of any building. It’s the ultimate for helping customers visualize how a blueprint will look for real, giving them more insight than any amount of photos or video could.

Find property information

Tours aren’t the only use for augmented reality in real estate, though. You can also utilize the technology to find information about homes for sale in a neighborhood.

HomeSpotter has an app that uses AR to give users the ability to instantly view information on available properties nearby. They simply aim their phone or tablet camera at a house or condo building and the app overlays available properties’ information onto the screen.

Similarly,’s Street Peek works in much the same way. As you walk around a neighborhood, you can point your phone or tablet at homes for sale and learn the sale or rental price, its recently sold price, the home’s estimated value and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home.

Create a virtual floor plan

With Magicplan, viewers can walk around a room and capture a computer generated representation of the floor plan. Then, they can employ the app to calculate the amount of materials they will need to do a DIY project in the room, like painting the walls or replacing the floor.

Virtual room staging

The home remodeling and decor website Houzz has introduced an app that gives users the ability to put virtual 3D models of furniture and accessories into a room to see how they will appear. The app has more than 1 million pieces of furniture and other home decor users can “place” in their homes. The available decor is meant to fit any style and any budget.

As mentioned previously, many of the AR software solutions that give users the ability to see furniture in their homes also give them the ability to purchase that furniture so they can make what they see virtually a reality.

Find out information about your own property

It’s not just property you’re interested in buying that AR can help with. Augmented reality can also help you know the real estate you already own better.

Homesnap’s Walk the Property Lines allows you to use your phone or tablet to get a physical, real-time view of the boundaries of your property. The app will display your property lines on the real-time view you capture with your camera.

This technology can be incredibly helpful with projects like fences and the placement of sheds and other out buildings.

Other AR technologies are being used to teach new homeowners about the various systems in their houses, like teaching them how to work a digital thermostat or troubleshoot a problem with the hot water heater, for example.

From augmented reality virtual tours to the virtual staging of homes, AR is a boon to any real estate business that will only continue to grow. With its ability to turn blueprints into 3D renderings and help you get exact measurements of a room or property, AR is an incredibly helpful tool to both real estate agents and homeowners alike.