The Future of Home Buying: Augmented Reality

You are tired, hungry, and fed up with the process. For months now, you and your real estate professional have been searching for the right home, and the agent just called to hook you into yet another day of property visits. You’ve seen one home after another, but they’re empty or packed with someone else’s furniture, and you just can’t visualize what the house would look like with your belongings in it.

There is now an app for that! “Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty” allows consumers to visualize an empty house as their own before the actual purchase. The New York Times reports that experts in the field predict augmented reality will soon replace virtual reality, which requires special goggles.

Augmented reality can put furniture and wall coverings in the space virtually with a touch of a button on your computer, phone or tablet. First, consumers use their smart phone camera to scan an empty room. Then, they populate the room with furnishings and décor virtually through the app. Drop in a contemporary master bedroom suite interior to see if it fits. Switch the style to mid-century. Change it to a kids’ room. How about an office instead? Move the furniture around the room to achieve the desired layout, all through your phone’s camera!

B.J. Delia, Realtor® at Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty in Charleston, says augmented reality is the wave of the future, which his company provides exclusively to buyers and sellers on a Google-based platform. “Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty” allows consumers to visualize a house as their own before the actual purchase.

We sell more than just real estate. We sell lifestyles – the experience of living in a particular home. We’re constantly trying to offer our clients the most immersive experience possible, and augmented reality allows buyers to instantly and powerfully visualize themselves and their furniture in the space,” says D’Elia.

Augmented reality offers an array of benefits to potential buyers and sellers, including:

1. Makes real estate – real. Augmented reality takes the guesswork out of picturing yourself in a home; so, potential buyers don’t have to rely on their imagination. It can provide peace of mind and makes decisions much easier.

2. Saves time by allowing buyers to see more houses with fewer visits. Ninety-five percent of buyers shop online and 51 percent of them find the home they ultimately purchase online, according to the National Association of Realtors. Augmented reality allows them to eliminate properties from the list that might otherwise require multiple visits to reject.

For example, a client saw a house, but didn’t realize until a second visit, with a tape measure and furniture dimensions in hand, that no configuration of furniture would avoid blocking the door. With augmented reality, they could have superimposed bedroom furniture into the room and avoided the second visit, spending their time instead viewing other properties.

3. Makes the agent more effective. A real estate agent who makes fewer fruitless home visits can be more effective for his clients. “Nothing replaces excellent customer service,” says D’Elia. “It’s the foundation of our industry and it’s what we’re all about.”

4. Pre-qualifies potential buyers. For sellers, an immersive experience allows potential buyers who aren’t a good fit for your property to disqualify themselves before requiring multiple visits. It eliminates the three-minute visit that requires an hour of preparation.

5. Allows for virtual staging. It also saves sellers time and energy by eliminating the need to stage an empty property. The National Association of Realtors reports that staged houses sell in an average of 11 days. For buyers, the app facilitates a view of the house furnished and appointed. An empty house is often difficult to comprehend as a living space. The virtual staging provides a sense of what living in it would feel like.

6. Streamlines remote purchases. With the hot Charleston-area real estate market attracting buyers from elsewhere, augmented reality offers a much richer experience for their consideration and can facilitate more confident purchases sight unseen. That benefits buyers and sellers, particularly in the luxury market with its limited pool of buyers, many of whom are international.

For more than 30 years, Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty, has been marketing, representing, and selling fine luxury homes in the Charleston area. To witness the power of augmented reality in your real estate purchase, contact B.J. D’Elia at or call 843.723.7150.