In the very near future, the experience of buying a home will undergo a radical change. Rather than Web 3.0, the next generation of Web products may very well be Web 3-D.

One of the most important trends for 2009 is the rise of video-based communication. The next wave of video applications, however, is not limited to today’s two-dimensional screens. Eventually we will have holographic showing machines that will provide us with a true 3-D experience. Furthermore, there are already prototypes in production that will also provide a full multisensory experience, right down to the sun shining on your face, the sound of the waves lapping gently on shore, and the aromas of food cooking on the grill.

Web 3-D will be highly interactive. There is already a simple interactive game on PlayStation 3 called "Creature Feature" that uses a "PSEye" video camera that projects your live image into the game. The room that you are playing in and the movements that you make in three-dimensional space are integrated into the game just as they are with many of Nintendo’s Wii games.

Groundbreaking applications of are already showing up in a variety of real estate products. Obeo, a provider of virtual home tours, has led the way with a program that allows you to change wall colors, the wood in cabinets, countertops, flooring, etc., in houses where they have shot the virtual tour and created a floor plan.

Obeo’s SpaceDesigner tool allows you to take your two-dimensional floor plan and experiment with different sizes of furniture to see what will fit best. This is one of the best ways to create "stickiness" on your Web site (i.e. keeping your Web visitors on your site rather than surfing to another site.)

A powerful aspect of Obeo’s product is its ability to track actual room views. This feature allows you to identify the rooms Web visitors find to be the most attractive. Obeo’s system also tracks whether your leads originate from your local multiple listing service or from consumers. This is a powerful tool for obtaining price reductions. If more than 100 brokers view your listing and there are no showings, you have a powerful way to persuade the sellers that something is seriously wrong with the price and/or condition of the property.

Denmark-based has a new product that produces "photo realistic" 3-D virtual tours. Using your computer, you can navigate through a 3-D floor plan. The process begins with the agent sending United Lane a two-dimensional floor plan. From that plan, United Lane recreates the space in a 3-D format. Their innovative software allows you to use your computer’s arrow keys to "walk" through the property. The system is similar to using an avatar (an imaginary figure that represents you online) as you move through a 3-D virtual game. …CONTINUED

For example, as you approach closed doors, they swing open. Learning to navigate in this 3-D space is similar to learning to drive a car. I kept running into walls until I learned how to maneuver in the space. In addition to the "on-the-ground" view, they also have a bird’s-eye view that allows you to rotate the house to see what it looks like from various angles.

While these are cool innovations, the United Lane application does much more. Like the Obeo product, you can move furniture into the property. And once you move the furniture in the room, the program can repopulate the virtual 3-D image with a 3-D image of the real table that you can purchase. You can capture or "photograph" the various rooms as you decorate. United Lane calls this feature "photo realism."

Its product allows you to create an infinite number of pictures of the house from any angle where you point your mouse. You can change the flooring, the walls or any of the other decorating features. Furthermore, you will not be limited to just still pictures. Once your selections are complete, you will be able to create a "video" that allows you to walk through the property and view your newly decorated house.

The most important aspect of the new 3-D video virtual tour is the power that it has to attract, keep and convert Web leads. This tool allows your Web visitors to qualify themselves. You can track who is returning to the same house to redecorate. This allows you to follow up with them rather than wasting your time with unqualified leads. Furthermore, using such tools can be a powerful way to convert seller, builder and even commercial leads into signed business.

By watching which Web visitors return repeatedly, you have a simple way to identify high-probability leads who are likely to purchase soon.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at


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