WITH VIRTUAL REALITY
WHEN NATHAN NASSERI, OWNER OF REinVR, FIRST SLIPPED ON A VIRTUAL REALITY
HEADSET, HE ENVISIONED FAR MORE THAN JUST A COOL WAY TO EXPERIENCE
VIDEO GAMES. HE SAW A WAY TO REDUCE COSTS, IMPROVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
AND STREAMLINE MANY OF THE PROCESSES ASSOCIATED WITH
THE DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION, MARKETING AND SELLING OF HOMES.
BY LISA SADACH WITH A FAMILY PEDIGREE IN REAL ESTATE AND AN EDUCATION IN GAME DESIGN, Nasseri was in a prime position to bring together this burgeoning technology with these traditional
industries. Nasseri’s diverse background allowed him to set an example of how old businesses and industries could be disrupted with new innovations, not just by incorporating applications, but by completely transforming the entire process with them.
THE CRASH THAT TURNED INTO A BOOM
“Try it for a year and if you don’t like it, you can try something else.” Before starting as a salesperson at his family’s business, Landmark Homes, Nasseri’s uncle said this now famous line to him. Like many employees who had heard the sentiment before, Nasseri grew to love and thrive in the company. If there hadn’t been a market crash several years after his start date, this
would be the end of the story.
However, as oil prices dropped to “$30/ barrel and the only people coming to look at homes were asking for 50% discounts…” Nasseri knew it was time to look at other solutions. Calling on his degree in video game design, Nasseri was able to combine his experience with virtual reality with his knack for home selling.
“Everywhere in North America, basically, except British Columbia you have the show home presentation model where you have 10 to 30 show homes spread out on the outskirts of the city and expecting clients to drive an hour away to see a different home… but buying habits have really changed over the last 10 years. The jump in technology has brought about this change. For example, the phone I’m using is more powerful than the computer I would have used 10 years ago.”
Under the old model of home showing, real estate companies were limited by the homes they had in a given area. As Nasseri describes it, “clients would like a home, the area and everything else but they would want something bigger. At that point, I would have to tell them to drive an hour away to see one of our other homes then drive another hour back to discuss pricing for a home in the area they wanted. But, what would happen, is they would go to the home next door and go with that one.”
Nasseri saw this “personal pain point” as an opportunity to disrupt and revolutionize how homes are sold, marketed and experienced. Instead of wasting thousands of dollars in advertising to get people into open houses and then turning them away and hoping they come back, REinVR allows home sellers to have all their models right at their fingertips with homes displayed in cutting edge virtual reality.
STREAMLINING FOR A BETTER EXPERIENCE
Everything about REinVR, including the name, is designed to streamline and simplify all aspects of the real estate industry. Originally intending to call the company Holodeck Halls, a nod to his love of sci-fi and the cutting-edge technology that would be used, Nasseri was advised to skip this for legal reasons and chose REinVR, literally Real Estate in Virtual Reality.
Not only would the company change how people were able to view homes, the name instantly informs on what the company is and what it does. This is all part of Nasseri’s vision to improve user and client experience for a better industry overall.
All too often, things within the industry aren’t designed for customer experience. Nasseri details how older and misused VR products have hindered home selling and design by leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths. Between being difficult to use and having low quality and cheap graphics, designers, real estate professionals and clients have all been burned.
This is largely the result of what happens when companies try to tack on a new technology to traditional ways of doing business. Instead of creating the technology to be user-friendly and then integrating it fully, it’s created and used as more of a novelty.
With REinVR, we see an example of how disruptive technology can change an industry for the better when used to its fully advantage. By taking the time to design realistic graphics, clients are able to get a good picture of what the architecture and design of their homes will look like which minimizes the chance that the client will be unhappy with the final result.
“VR helps sell the home buying dream … not just seeing the dream but experiencing it and realizing this could be my house and it could be just how I want it. I don’t have to do any renovations afterwards, it’s fully warrantied, all of these things you wouldn’t get with an existing house.”
THE VALUE OF VR ACROSS INDUSTRIES
In traditional real estate imaging, when you want to see what a home would look like, you create one photo of one angle with one color scheme. If you want to see anything else, you have to create it all over again.
“It’s like building a movie set and only showing it from one angle then tearing it down. If someone wants to see another angle or different color, we have to build the whole thing again.” With this analogy, Nasseri was able to see how building the whole set and allowing elements of it to be changed easily would be more cost effective and a better experience for everyone involved.
Not only is this a massive cost savings, but also a time savings. When looking into how homes and buildings were approved for construction, Nasseri found “…what shocked me was that the city could say we don’t like this part of the building. Make the windows smaller and come back to us in 6 months when we’re available again.”
With cities having varying standards about the architecture they allow, issues like this are not uncommon. In this scenario, the architect involved now must have this project on their books for the next 6 months until they can get approval from the city again and the builder, who has already gotten the land, is stuck in a holding pattern for that time as well.
REinVR changes this by allowing adjustments to take place in a matter of seconds. The city gets to see the property with smaller windows, the architect can move on from the project and the builder can start construction.
CHANGING THE TRADITIONAL BUSINESS MINDSET
With changes coming from all sides in terms of technology, a global economy and workforce, companies like REinVR are leading the charge in shaking up traditional business for the better. It’s time we ask, who are we as a business today and what do we need to do to be successful tomorrow?
If a company isn’t tackling this question and working to answer it in a meaningful way, they are doomed to be a minor blip in history, quaint then forgotten like a Blockbuster rental or Kodak picture. It’s time we face the fact that going about “business as usual,” is usually the best way to ensure death for any industry. Instead, companies need to think of not just using disruptive technology in a half-hearted way but latching onto it like the lifeline it is.
REINVENTING THE FUTURE TODAY
“The model isn’t broken, but there are better ways,” says Nasseri when asked about what he would tell his competitors. “In an industry that doesn’t improve themselves unless the government tells them to, so there’s no real incentive to spend more money change and innovate and create different building practices.”
As the industry has seen a steady drop off in traffic for new homes for the past 10 years, this is a huge mistake. Instead of putting dollars towards building model homes that force people to drive long distances and make color and material choices based on what their imagination is capable of, the money needs to go towards leveraging technology that can eliminate the need for physical show homes and that can display for people exactly how their new home will look.
“Now is the time for mobile presentation centers,” says Nasseri. “For a fraction of the cost, home sellers can reach hundreds more customers by making their presentations portable.”
Cost effective and time efficient solutions like these are what most industries need at this point. While REinVR is working largely with construction companies, their example is one that can be used across a vast range of businesses with the message that: If we want to be relevant tomorrow, we need to reinvent the wheel today.
“IT’S TIME WE ASK, WHO ARE WE AS A BUSINESS TODAY AND WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL TOMORROW? IF A COMPANY ISN’T TACKLING THIS QUESTION AND WORKING TO ANSWER IT IN A MEANINGFUL WAY, THEY ARE DOOMED TO BE A MINOR BLIP IN HISTORY, QUAINT THEN FORGOTTEN LIKE A BLOCK- BUSTER RENTAL OR KODAK PICTURE.”