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3D Tour Videos Will Replace Still Photos in Property Search

May 12 2021

A revolution is about to hit the real estate industry. We've reached an inflection point that will create a major change for property search websites. WAV Group expects that sites will feature 3D tours instead of still photos as the primary display in the next three to five years.

3D tours create digital scans of a property, and the best part is that you do not need to put on one of those goofy headsets to make you feel like you are walking around in the actual home. The experience provides a perspective that flipping through still photos will never provide, such as walking down a hallway. One of the greatest innovations in 3D tours is the combination of interior home scans with exterior drone footage. This gives the consumer the ability to walk out the door into the back yard (or front yard) and take a good look at the house and the neighborhood—or the ocean views, if you are l3D tours are made of 360° scans and create a virtual rey experience that is immeasurably better than still photos. Brokers and agents who get 3D tours on every property are going to jump out ahead of those that do not. Moreover, those that convert their websites to 3D tours first have a chance to beat the portals and regain market share from consumers.

Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow Group, indicates that the 3D experience is going to be "the next big thing" in property marketing. But I feel they will struggle to take advantage of the trend. Zillow's problem is that they are not listing agents (at least not yet). Zillow tried to put out software for free to anyone to capture home scans on their phone, but the product is not anywhere close to the experience that you get from a Matterport, iGuide or Asteroom scan. If agents do not pay for these scans and send the content to Zillow Group, it will be difficult for them to take the lead as a portal.

The best part of these 360° scans is the production of floor plans. Michael Vervena from iGuide says that the accuracy of these scans from equipment like the Ricoh Theta Z1 360° camera placed on the iGuide Planix base will capture room dimensions to an accuracy of 0.5% or greater.

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When you look at the research performed by the National Association of REALTORS®, consumers list photos as the No. 1 most important information along with property details and then floorplans at No. 3. Zillow research puts floor plans at the No. 2 most important information consumers seek.

Another big advantage of 3D tours with floor plans is engagement. Consumers spend a lot more time on the site and are more likely to inquire about a listing. Moreover, lead quality goes way up. The home buyer starts with location, beds and baths. From there, the process is about taking properties off the list. It takes less time to tour a property using this new technology than it does to find your keys and hop in your car.

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Floor plans are also incredibly helpful at understanding if you will fit in with a specific house; people want to know if their furniture will fit. This is where virtual staging from BoxBrownie comes in handy. It also helps solve the other problem of showing the home seller's old-and-outdated furniture handed down from their step-grandmother.

Some of the details that the industry has not worked out yet include cost of the tours, ownership of the data, and hosting fees. The cost of the tours has come down a significant amount. Compare the $3000 cost of a Matterport tour plus monthly hosting with iGuide's $299 tour tour and no hosting fee. In fact, iGuide even provides the agent with a downloadable version that can be played from their phone, computer, tablet or even sent via text. Asteroom is considered less expensive in comparison, but it is more of a DIY solution. Most of the tours today include the professional photographer, causing data ownership to be all over the board. For instance, Matterport and Asteroom claim ownership of the data. iGuide does not. As for the hosting fees – not a fan. I am sure that the vulture capitalists backing these startups want the recurring revenue from hosting, but it is really just an egregious tax on the Realtor. If MLSs want to do something great for their members, hosting these 3D scans is a future member benefit that would be adored by their customers.

In addition to these 3D tours being pushed front and center on property search sites in the future, I believe that they will become the first engagement experience between an agent and a buyer. If you have not checked out Urban Immersive's experience of a home walkthrough or a Virtual Showing by iGuide, try it. The agent can literally meet the customer online and show the home, pointing out features and answering questions for the client's convenience.

These are bold predictions; feel free to disagree. But if you want to take a moonshot in your business and grow market share through investing in developing a better experience for consumers, then this is definitely it.

Here is a virtual showing sample from iGuide: