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Let homebuyers ‘place’ homes on empty lots with Clayton’s new augmented-reality app

By July 17, 2017 No Comments
Let homebuyers ‘place’ homes on empty lots with Clayton’s new augmented-reality app

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Home Previewer by Clayton is an augmented reality-based app that lets users view and tour a new home on vacant land.

Platforms: iOS
Ideal for: Agents who specialize in new construction; agents familiar with manufactured and modular homes

Top selling points

  • Ease of use
  • Has potential for growth to all Clayton-built homes
  • Added incentive for buyers

Top concerns

The selection of Clayton homes a buyer can visualize is limited, and it doesn’t include views of internal finishes or amenities.

What you should know

Augmented reality is becoming big business in real estate; Zillow just gave $10 million to interior design visualization tool, Hutch (formerly Homee).

Last week, the country’s largest homebuilder, Clayton, announced the launch of Home Previewer, an app that lets homebuyers “place” homes on empty lots.

Users of the app can walk around a home and even into it.

No furnishings or finishes are placeable or augmented, although adding that ability would make the app significantly more valuable to its users.

The company commissioned Boulder, Colorado-based ad agency Made to develop the tool.

The software is quick to set up and use. The included tutorial is helpful but the app is very intuitive.

The developers ensured a simple user experience.

The meat of its functionality starts with calibrating a northerly view on the app’s GPS screen, which uses the iPhone’s native GPS signal.

The current list of homes for touring is short, consisting of a few of Clayton’s popular manufactured models.

Once a home is selected, it appears over the phone’s live camera view for final placement. Two arrow buttons can be tapped to rotate the home’s positioning on the lot.

Touching the “place” icon locks the home to the land.

Users can walk closer to the house, around the side and view it from all angles.

You don’t need to enter the front door to see the inside, but doing so would offer a more authentic experience.

The app includes a capture tool to grab pictures for sharing via email and a help section that highlights the purpose of each tool.

As an app, Home Previewer is well done. I used it to place a house on empty land across the street from my house. It ran smoothly on my iPhone 7s without fluttering or having to reload, as many 3-D tools often do.

It also left me realizing I don’t want anyone to build a home on the deer- and tree-filled lot across the street. (That’s a compliment.)

In summary, the technology looks good and its functionality invites little criticism.

I’m skeptical about the long-term benefits for agents and buyers who download it.

Augmented reality tools like Rooomy, Hutch and Matterport already provide real estate agents with features way beyond the scope of what Home Previewer offers.

I get it — this is about helping people view a Clayton home’s exterior on the home site. But we don’t live outside our house.

Additionally, I imagine that buyers would experience somewhat of a let down after using a cool 3-D app to view their home in its actual environment, and then retreating to a sterile sales office to flip through thick catalogs of interior finish options.

Clayton has been building homes for a long time and just started building 3-D iPhone apps. Credit should be given to a homebuilder for encouraging the use of this technology to aid buyers in their decision making.

Most importantly, the company should be commended for its commitment to making homeownership more accessible to more people.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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