By Meghan Hall
In the real estate industry, time is money, and an empty apartment or house on the market can sit for longer than intended when prospective occupants are unable to visualize themselves living in the space. In the past, real estate experts and property owners could opt to stage their homes, bringing in furniture and decorations in an effort to maximize profit and limit time on the market. roOomy, an augmented reality platform was created to streamline this time money-intensive process, allowing potential buyers and tenants to fully customize the space to their specific wants and needs, according to roOomy Executive Taylor Wilding.
Taylor, tell me a little bit about roOomy and your experiences in the real estate industry. What pain points does roOomy help to address?
Prior to roOomy, I was area manager at Regus, one of the largest providers of flexible workspaces. While at Regus, I noticed that, while you can provide photos and video of a space to a prospective tenant, it was very difficult to visualize a room down to the granular details —where the furniture will fit, what configuration will be best, etc.
What’s been most exciting for me is being able to witness a true evolution of how virtual staging has become a widely accepted solution to these dilemmas in my recent years at roOomy. If you look back even just five years ago, virtual staging wasn’t a widely known concept in the real estate industry. There was far more upfront education required when starting conversations with new partners and potential clients. Today, thanks in large part to the broader acceptance of new technology in the industry in general, real estate professionals and home sellers alike are eager to learn about the benefits and applications of a custom, photo-realistic virtual staging of their space.
In terms of industry pain points, the biggest one that I’ve noticed is that physical staging offers no flexibility to showcase various styles when presenting an apartment or home. Your 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. showings could have totally different perspectives on what makes a home beautiful. With virtual staging, you can give the potential buyer or renter an opportunity to see themselves in the space and develop an emotional connection, which is really invaluable.
How does roOomy work? How does its real estate, home furnishings and interior design modules function together to help prospective buyers/renters visualize their space?
roOomy is a virtual staging, CGI and augmented reality and virtual reality modeling platform that allows real estate professionals and interior design enthusiasts to quickly and easily transform static 2D imagery of home interiors into ultra-realistic furnished 3D renderings to facilitate a frictionless home buying and renting experience. The virtual staged rooms are “shoppable,” meaning that you can click on the various [pieces of] furniture in the model, and everything can be purchased. Essentially, you’re able to view the property at its full potential and, if you’d like, purchase the furnishings to make it a reality.
Why is virtual — instead of physical — staging the future of selling homes or renting apartments? How does it enable property owners and listing agents to more effectively market their properties?
Physical staging can be cumbersome, costly and inflexible, offering no ability to showcase multiple functions and aesthetic stylings. A home seller and/or their rep traditionally needed to select their furnishings, purchase them and then assemble them before a prospective buyer views the space — a process that takes weeks.
Conversely, all roOomy needs is a photo of a space, and then it can provide nearly unlimited furnishing and configuration options in hours or days, not weeks. This helps home movers make more informed, confident purchase decisions for their prospective home, along with the customizable decor to best suit their tastes. Simply put, it’s a lot easier to move a mouse than it is to move a whole couch.
How can roOomy help attract specific, targeted audiences?
From the end user’s perspective, not everyone has the same idea of what looks good. roOomy eliminates the need to painstakingly select, assemble and arrange furniture before marketing a home. And because of this flexibility, real estate professionals are able to attract a much wider pool of potential buyers through the ability to showcase multiple styles in a nimble fashion.
By how much can roOomy increase the selling price of a home or decrease the number of days an asset is on the market?
There’s no doubt that staging is very powerful. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 83 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Moreover, 25 percent of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between one and five percent, compared to other similar homes that are not staged.
This same study found that buyers were more willing to walk through a home they saw online (38 percent), and buyers’ agents identified that staging would positively impact the home value if the home was decorated to the buyer’s taste. But herein lies the challenge — it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to show various styles with physical staging. With virtual staging, you have access to all of the same perks but [with] more customization options and the ability to go live with the listing much faster.
Staged homes also tend to move much quicker. 25 percent of agents reported that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time that a home is on the market.
How much can roOomy save a client versus traditional staging?
Traditional staging typically costs between one to three percent of the listing price, but since professional photos are usually the last step in the listing process, the cumbersome nature of physical staging can often cost agents much more. In real estate, time is money so any delay in listing a property can be detrimental.
Virtual staging costs less than one percent of the listing price. In multifamily, virtual staging can also positively impact NOI, since physical model units can be added back into the owner’s inventory instead of being set aside for weeks unoccupied.
With the advent of technology, there are some concerns among listing professionals that photos of new-to-market homes are inaccurate. What is your take on this? Do you think platforms such as roOomy can help to mitigate these concerns? Why or why not?
For us, it’s all about integrity and transparency. We’re not in the business of pulling the wool over people’s eyes. We’re not adding a pool to an empty backyard or changing the property’s structure. Through virtual staging, we are offering a true representation of a home’s potential. And since the photo-realistic models draw from our extensive library of real furnishings, the home buyer (if they like what they see) can purchase any of the furnishings directly from the model.
What differentiates roOomy’s technology from other 3D visualization and virtual reality software hitting the market?
What really sets us apart is our vast relationships with the world’s most prominent furniture providers and retailers which has allowed us to create 3D models that are fully “shoppable.” Also, roOomy operates at the quality, speed and precision mandated by the real estate industry. Our turnaround time on listing photos is also very impressive; we’re often able to provide virtual staged renderings within 24 hours, which is something we take a lot of pride in.
How is roOomy looking to grow and evolve in the future? What advancements does roOomy hope to make as technology continues to evolve and change?
Real estate technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and we’re always considering new features and tools to enhance what we’re already doing. Recently, we were tapped as a “Creator” in Magic Leap’s inaugural Independent Creator Program. Magic Leap, which is backed by AT&T, Google and Alibaba Group, is an innovator in the space so we’re thrilled to participate in their program. As part of this, we will be building a cutting-edge solution for the Magic Leap One, the highly-anticipated headset that projects 3D images into reality. Augmented reality is a huge growth area for us, and we’re already doing really exciting things in this arena but will continue to innovate.
Does roOomy have plans to expand into the commercial real estate space in the future? If so, why? What are the merits to growth within the commercial sector?
Since our expansive 3D library primarily features home furnishings, residential real estate continues to be our core focus. While our technology can certainly be applied to commercial sectors (i.e. office, hotel, etc.), we are hyper-focused right now on continuing to grow our residential business, as well as expanding upon the home furnishings featured on the roOomy platform.
Is there anything else you would like to add that The Registry did not ask?
For any real estate professionals who are considering virtual staging, I encourage you to try it out. roOomy is the most scalable solution for presenting a home and provides a cost-effective and hyper-efficient way to better visualize physical spaces through the power of 3D, AR and VR solutions.