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How one of Europe’s largest property developers created an interactive 3D home-buying experience

April 29, 2021

In the Netherlands, there’s demand for homes, but there are only so many people who can afford them. In response, the Dutch government has committed to building affordable housing for the country’s middle class. This means property developers need to make pace to develop suited projects and present large-scale property concepts to the government. 

Bouwfonds Property Development (BPD) knows what it takes to build good houses and connected, liveable communities. BPD, the largest property developer in the Netherlands, has facilitated the construction of over 356,000 homes since 1946 and operates on the principle that everybody deserves a good home. 

A complex housing market isn’t the only thing on BPD’s mind. There’s also the matter of changing consumer shopping habits. Today 44% of prospective home buyers start their buying journey online. When they go online, they’re greeted with high-resolution photo galleries of curbside shots and interiors. While this may have worked in the past, it’s not ideal in today’s digital-first environment. 

BPD wanted to create highly realistic, interactive 3D experiences to:

  • advance their forward-thinking digital marketing strategy with interactive, lifelike, and accessible home-buying experiences
  • present interactive renderings of unbuilt property developments to potential customers in the public sector, at scale

Introducing more depth and interactivity to the online home-buying experience

When BPD made the shift from offline promotional tools to digital marketing, they realized that while existing digital tools gave them the reach and scale they needed, those tools didn’t necessarily deliver the depth of marketing experience their buyers desired. Purchasing a home is a highly emotional decision and is often the largest purchase people make in their lifetime. It’s no surprise then that people expect a more impactful experience. 

“We needed renders and online interactive ways to present real estate,” explains Jan Kruidenier, Senior Sales Manager at BPD. “We wanted to provide an experience where people could stand at any position and corner of a house and look around or see what the lighting in the house looked like at different times of day. It had to be totally interactive.”

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Of course, BPD had created renderings in the past. The standard process is familiar to many property marketers. They would select key locations within a planned house, create beautiful renderings of those areas, and distribute them. 

“The problem was that if someone wanted to see a house from the couch or the attic or the kitchen, we couldn’t make all of those renderings on the spot. It was too expensive and too much work. At the same time, we wanted to give them total imagery and freedom,” explains Kruidenier. 

Using Unreal Engine & PureWeb to create and distribute interactive 3D visualizations

One option the company considered was virtual reality, but this quickly presented challenges. 

“Prospective buyers needed to have the hardware, and most people don’t have that at their house,” says Kruidenier. “So then you need to invite them somewhere like our office, to give them this total interactive experience to see an unbuilt house in real size, but then again, that’s difficult with COVID-19 and the gathering limitations.” 

They worked with 3D imagery creative firm, Studio D, to create interactive 3D renderings of their planned properties. They used Unreal Engine, which offers creators a real-time 3D creation platform that slashes 3D rendering times. With Studio D and Unreal Engine, they were able to create renderings of their proposed homes from multiple angles and locations in a fraction of the typical time. 

“When we met with Studio D, we learned about the possibilities with Unreal Engine and that we could build an architectural model really fast and customize buildings quickly,” says Kruidenier. “That would help us present to the government.” 

Of course, creating the interactive 3D content was only half of the project. Distributing it seamlessly was essential--that’s where PureWeb came in. The only way to create an immersive experience that was accessible to anyone on any device was to distribute it through an enterprise streaming solution for interactive, web-based 3D content. 

Related Read: How do I distribute my virtual show home at scale through PureWeb?

Kruidenier explains that when they were building the game they didn’t even consider distribution. BPD chose PureWeb because they are the industry leader in distribution and fit all of their requirements: preservation of the interactive 3D experience, scalability, and affordability.

PureWeb also offered BPD attractive security features. Source files are securely kept in the cloud and only the rendered image is transmitted to the end user’s device. Even in the event of a breach, unauthorized users would only have access to the renderings as opposed to the proprietary 3D models.

Moreover, PureWeb gave BPD the freedom to incorporate custom integrations down the road, such as adding their digital marketing tools for lead tracking and live video so buyers and sellers could interact in real time while navigating the 3D experience. 

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“The response from real estate agents and selling partners was great,” says Kruidenier. “Real estate agents who sell our houses and talk to our customers are really happy with this because normally they sit in a room with people and drawings trying to describe sizes and items. Now, they just need a big screen in the office and can show them everything they want in 3D.” 

BPD is most excited about tying interactive experiences more seamlessly into the larger home-buying experience. 

“We want to connect the interactive 3D experience of each house into our cloud-based lead management software and our website, so we can see if a specific experience leads to a purchase. At the moment, we have the prices and features of the house within the experience and you can reserve the house.” 

PureWeb’s technology is built to accommodate almost any integration that might round out a customer's interactive 3D experience. In the real estate space, a PureWeb-enabled experience could include integrations to social media, home inspection technology, purchasing, and escrow technology, and more depending on a building developer’s vision. 

With the current setup, BPD can see how many people are looking around the house, what they’re experiencing, and how that affects conversion rates. 

“The project that currently has an interactive 3D experience is selling well,” says Kruidenier. ‘It’s a popular project. At the moment, 50 percent of web visitors have tried the experience.” 

Perhaps the most interesting thing for Kruidenier and the BPD team is how interactive 3D experiences could change the way real estate developers present and sell their houses. “You can see how people move through areas and how they’re looking at things. There’s all this data we can get that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise.”

As they ramp up their use of interactive 3D experiences, BPD is excited about their future digital marketing opportunities. 

Read Next: Why the future of pre-built home marketing is interactive 3D show homes

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“The possibilities are endless. There is a really long list of features you can add to this gaming environment. You could replace the website and replace how we make contracts with people. You can build everything because there are no limits.” 

If you’re a home builder or design agency using or wishing to use virtual home tours, we have the technology to help you maximize your reach. Contact us to book an appointment with a member of our Real Estate Solutions team to learn more.

 

PureWeb AEC white paper - Interactive 3D streaming in real-estate

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