Homebuyers can now view properties virtually before they are even built.
A Ballyclare homebuilder's partnership with a software firm is allowing it to offer house hunters a virtual viewing experience off plan, in what it says is a first for Northern Ireland.
Local property company Simpson Developments has invested in software to enable the viewings, including properties at its new £4m Ballyclare development.
The company says it is the first here to use new Computer Generated Illustration (CGI) software to offer potential buyers an insight into residential builds set to go on the market even before the foundations are laid.
The service has been made possible by a link-up between Simpson Developments, Belfast based BLOCK CPM Limited and a European VR specialist firm.
Simpson Developments has adapted the software to add several unique features too, including interactive brochures and videos on the TV screens, all of which provide a customer house viewing experience yet to be seen here.
It will mean that house viewers can now soak up the interiors of Simpson Properties on a bespoke VR tour that uses a model of the interior built from architect plans and virtually furnished and decorated by their interior designers.
It is a service that had been in the development pipeline for the company but was fast-tracked due the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.
A team dedicated to the project took six months to design and develop the software.
Speaking about the service, David Simpson said: "Our new VR tours accompany Simpson Developments' brand-new website and both launches signal the completion of a rebranding process of the firm.
"Some of our plans for the future have been pushed forward given the pandemic we are operating in, including the need to social distance and, in some instances, the complete halt of viewings. So this allows us and our home buyers to continue house hunting from the safety of their own homes in what is a very unique experience.
"Given that we are in another lockdown I think it's important we offer an even better service, one that allows our image galleries and viewing processes to be as close to reality as possible because while the world may be at some sort of a standstill, there is opportunity to adapt and operate during these challenging times."
Among the company's upcoming developments is a Ballyclare site which is set to feature 20 residential properties in the heart of the town. The £4m project has created 50 jobs.
"We are in the market to purchase more land this year than we ever have and with that will come major growth. We are very much looking forward to what 2021 brings," Mr Simpson added.