Virtual move-in tools are nothing new to apartment communities. You can see examples of online space planners and floor plan organizers at communities like the Met Lofts (Alliance Residential) and the Lure at Cedar Springs (Trinity Property Consultants). But Ikea took virtual home furniture to a whole new level this past month with the release of their 2014 Catalog.
Roughly 14% of customer returns for the big-box home decor retailer are because products are the wrong size for the intended location. To help ease that frustration, Ikea’s 2014 Catalog was introduced with an augmented reality app for smartphone and tablet that allows customers to visualize 3-D versions of Ikea furniture in their own home — virtually placed within a room by scanning and placing the physical catalog at the item’s desired location (or atop a friend’s balding noggin).
Obviously, any custom applications of this nature for the multifamily industry would be months out… But what if we could use similar technology to help prospects visualize their future homes during property tours of unstaged units, and allow them to personally engage with the space using a smartphone or tablet? They could take up an ipad and drop a queen-size bed in the bedroom, or throw a flatscreen up on the wall, and move the loveseat around with their fingertips.
Regardless of whether we see an augmented reality apartment mover in the coming years, the use of devices such as tablets during tours, community events, and lease-ups has become increasingly prevalent for greater engagement, real-time information, online user adoption, and more online automation and updating. If augmented reality leasing offices are slightly beyond our reach, the outlook for a mobile leasing office is highly promising.