Virtual reality tours are coming to Toronto's real estate rental market

Imagine touring your next potential home without having to leave your couch. is developing virtual reality apartment tours out of Winnipeg, and founder Jordan Billinkoff says it won’t be too long before his company expands across Canada.

The technology provides a 360-degree tour with just a smart phone and a cardboard headset founder Jordan Billinkoff says Torontonians will have access to the technology within the next two years. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Imagine touring your next potential home without having to leave your couch. developing virtual reality apartment tours out of Winnipeg, and founder Jordan Billinkoff says it won't be too long before his company expands across Canada.

"I think every single piece of real estate that's on the market is going to have a virtual reality tour with it, and everybody's going to have a headset in the future, as well," Billinkoff said.

VR headsets are usually associated with video games and a hefty price tag —  but Gryd has created a cardboard version that will sell between $10 and $15.

The aim is to make the rental search easier for potential tenants. All the user needs is the headset and a smart phone.

Imagine touring your next home without even leaving your couch. is developing virtual reality apartment tours. 1:07

"Typically, the apartment search process has been something that's painful and not fun," Billinkoff said. "With these new 3D and virtual reality technologies, it's really fun. We actually have a hard time getting the headsets off of people at demos."

Once you choose a property, you put on the headset and "teleport" around the room by following blue dots. The technology gives you a 360-degree view of the space.

"It's spatially accurate so you'll get real depth perception," Billinkoff said. "It feels like you're there because you can feel the dimensions of the room." 

'A more accurate view'

In a city as large as Toronto with such a competitive rental market, Billinkoff said the option to view multiple properties without having to actually go anywhere is a huge time saver.

"It saves time for renters because they don't have to go all around the city to see apartments they may or may not be interested in," he said.

Not everyone is on-board with the technology, however. Billinkoff said he's met a few real estate agents who say the virtual reality tour will take away from the real experience of viewing an apartment.

But Billinkoff disagrees.

"I think what will happen is the renter will create a shortlist of places they really like, and they'll still see those spots in person."

One property management company in the Greater Toronto Area is already singing the praises of virtual reality listings.

"This is creating massive efficiencies for our leasing teams," said Jessica Green, a spokesperson for Greenwin Inc. "This technology basically pre-qualifies renters."

Green said Greenwin Inc. works with many international tenants, and the apartment search for them is often challenging.

"Sometimes they're in situations where they have to sign for a place before they even get to see it," she said. "This gives them a more accurate view."

Right now, the technology only has listings from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Billinkoff said Torontonians will have access to Gryd within the next two years.

About the Author

Talia Ricci is a CBC reporter based in Toronto. She's from Guelph and has also reported in London and Winnipeg. From the Middle East to West Africa, Talia has travelled around the globe volunteering and photographing. She enjoys covering offbeat human interest stories and exposing social justice issues. When she's not reporting, you can find Talia creating recipes for her plant based food blog.