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3D Photography is Changing The Way Buyers View Homes

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August 8, 2017 in Business

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The first step in the home buying experience is quickly moving from gathering information to something downright immersive. 3D Virtual Reality experiences are changing (again) the way we buy a home.

Online photos and video have been the home buying standard for the past few years. Through portals like Zillow.com and Realtor.com, buyers no longer feel the need to visit every house within their price range to know whether or not its right for them. This level of technology takes the buyer to a certain point, but it doesn’t give them the “I am in this room” experience. 3D photography is in fact one of the real estate tech trends that could be shaping the industry for years to come.

3D is the next – or rather the NOW – frontier.

Why 3D? We go about our lives experiencing things spatially. Our brains are constantly calculating distances, sizes and volumes in order to understand and process the world around us. Because of this, standard video and still photography often fall flat when it comes to accurately portraying the feel of a home. Low quality photos can limit buyer interest, and even the best photography, while getting a potential buyer in the door, often leaves the buyer experiencing the actual home in unexpected ways based on the limited data available from still photos or even standard video.

As 3D photography and Virtual Reality matures and becomes more mainstream, agents can now invite the buyer to experience an interactive, immersive space that offers more than just visuals; it gives the user the feeling that they’re actually there, touring a potential home.

Of course, as the 3D Virtual Tour market grows, so does the number of players competing for this growing piece of business. There are two basic options, a service only model where you pay for an imaging and storage service as needed, or the purchase of a 3D camera itself along with the image processing and storage services.

Examples of option number one – companies like Homevisit and RealVision provide the service for a one-time fee, like hiring a standard photographer. These larger companies will connect you with a local 3D photographer in your area. In the near future, it is easy to imagine 3D as one in a suite of options available from any full service Real Estate photographer.

For Real Estate professionals who want to take it to the next level, the purchase of a 3D camera is the next logical step. Matterport and IGuide are Real Estate industry leaders in 3D photography. While the price tag can cause some serious sticker shock right off the bat, it is an all-in-one option that can not only produce a 3D virtual reality tour of a house within 2-3 hours of capture, but fulfills all of the still photography needs of the Realtor as well.

Matterport was the first manufacturer of these cameras to really make virtual reality tours an accessible resource for Realtors, with companies like Planetar with their IGuide system gaining momentum all the time. With both Matterport and IGuide, a Realtor can just pick up the camera and get the listing tour done on their and their clients right-away schedule. The ability to provide quick 3D VR might even give an agent a leg up against the competition for those new listings.

Applications for 3D virtual tours go well beyond the listing. Property managers are finding it useful to have 360 degree documentation of the condition of leased space. Such comprehensive documentation can minimize renter/landlord disputes about condition of the property, and serve as a reference point for amenities and features of the leased space.

When you purchase a 3D camera through companies like IGuide and Matterport, you are also purchasing the storage and processing service that provides a fast, effective and easy to use way to create virtual tours. As services and competition become more ubiquitous, prices for these services will likely come down.

If an investment in 3D imaging equipment is something worth exploring for your business, Matterport and IGuide are two solid options. Both offer similar upload times, 3D tour features, post image-capture administration, and are offered at a similar price point.

The goal of Matterport is to provide ease of use; their Matterport Pro 2 3D is easy to pick up and start using, low effort, provides quick visualizations for Realtors and is a great tool in the tool belt of other professions like project management. To purchase the IGuide, in contrast, you’ll need to fill out a form and wait for them to contact you and then commit to several hours of training. So for a lower barrier of entry, at least when it comes to ease of use, Matterport has an edge.

The multi-functionality of 3D/VR technology for Real Estate is hard to overstate. While creating beautiful 3D virtual reality tours of homes, it also becomes an easy tool for communicating with owners, and can be used as an insurance policy in some cases to fully show the state of a property when a Realtor or renter or builder gets on site.

3D cameras and back end services currently have a price tag in the high $3,000s to mid $4,000s plus monthly processing fees. So this up-front purchase option is not for everyone – companies like Homevisit are viable options for Realtors and property managers who choose to outsource 3D VR tours. But while the initial purchase is a bigger ticket item, Matterport and IGuide have monthly plans that can be shared by multiple users.

As the industry continues to adapt to digital-age changes, 3D camera and storage service might be a wise investment for Brokerage offices. Companies like SpringsHomes Inc. a Real Estate Brokerage in Colorado Springs, Colorado have found such a perk to be a great recruiting tool. Agents could choose to pay into a processing and cloud storage package, without the expense of the camera itself. The price tag of 3D video and photography is quickly decreasing, and as technology continues to advance we can expect to see more and more affordable and efficient cameras of this type.

3D Virtual Tours are not the future of Real Estate. They are the NOW. A standard video tour may get the attention of the user, but often doesn’t hold it. A three dimensional, self-guided tour allows the user to jump to different locations in the house and look around from different angles at their leisure. In this way, 3D tours are sticky; the social engagement of a Virtual Reality tour is approximately 60% higher than with still photos alone. If you are a real estate agent, thinking about adding virtual reality tours to your real estate marketing plan might be worth considering.

The proliferation of 3D tours of homes is advancing the Real Estate industry overall, and increasing the efficiency of the buying and selling process. 3D is the NOW frontier.

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