AV Homes first in Central FL to use virtual reality as sales tool

AV Homes is introducing a new tech solution to solve an old problem in real estate.

As the homebuilder redesigns its entire product line, it will be months before models will be ready to show buyers the new, contemporary floorplans. 

And when two or three model homes are built in a new community, those floorplans often dwarf the other offerings. 

"Buyers tend to buy what they can see," director of architecture Stephen Yerrakadu told GrowthSpotter. "If someone is looking at a piece of paper, it's not really tangible."

Enter the Virtual Reality (VR) home tour. AV Homes is introducing 3D video home tours of all its new floorplans that will be available on the company's website. And starting with the launch of Stepping Stone in Poinciana, prospective homebuyers will be able to visit the Waterview sales center in Kissimmee and use VR goggles to truly experience the home design.

"This gives us the opportunity to look at this house, which has yet to be built, and to start visualizing what the experience is going to be like for the buyer and the potential homeowner," Yerrakadu said.

Division President Ken Thirtyacre hired Yerrakadu away from Toll Brothers in 2017 to redesign the entire product line with a focus on more contemporary styles and open living.

All of the designs have open kitchens with huge islands and walk-in pantries. More windows and 12-foot stacking slider doors are now standard. They're even introducing a contemporary elevation style, to go along with the craftsman and coastal options. 

"What we're trying to do with the design is really focus on large, open living spaces," Yerrakadu said. "As I watch HGTV with my wife and my parents, all the home designs are being renovated to incorporate this lifestyle for the way that people really live. We're able to showcase it with the virtual reality as opposed to hoping that people are able to interpret a piece of paper into what it really looks like."

One home tour even features a BMW in the pristine garage, though Yerrakadu joked that if he wanted to show how people "really live" he'd have to add a lawnmower, a second refrigerator and shelves full Christmas decorations.

The VR system will be expanded to AV's new Greenfield Village community, located just off Ronald Reagan Parkway in Davenport. The sales center there opens in February. Eventually all of AV Homes' sales centers will feature the technology, and home buyers who own their own VR headsets will be able to scan a QR code to their smartphone and take the tour without even having to visit a sales center.

Once the builder adds all of the new home designs, it will be able to expand the program to include tours of the neighborhood amenities, Yerrakadu said.

"The technology is extremely impressive," RE/MAX Realtor Tom Popadak said. "This is going to help us because buyers want to know how a space will function and live. It would be really nice if it could get to the point where you can change out cabinets and flooring." 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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