Some real estate agents don’t think 3-D home tours are worth the time or effort, but realtor.com has given skeptics cause to revisit this view. The listing portal has integrated 3-D tours from Matterport into its iOS app, and is gearing up to do the same with its desktop website and Android app in the months ahead. Users can tap a 3-D icon on listings explore the tours inside the app.

  • Real estate agents can add 3-D home tours to realtor.com listings for viewing in its iOS app.
  • The listing portal will roll out a similar integration for its desktop website and Android app later this spring.
  • The integration marks a big step forward for 3-D real estate marketing.

Some real estate agents don’t think 3-D home tours are worth the time or effort, but realtor.com has given skeptics cause to revisit this view.

The listing portal has integrated 3-D tours from Matterport into its iOS app, and is gearing up to do the same with its desktop website and Android app in the months ahead. Users can tap a 3-D icon on listings to explore the tours inside the app.

Previously, agents typically could only distribute Matterport tours by sending links to interested buyers, or in some cases, embedding the visualizations on their company’s website. But by pushing the tours to realtor.com’s audience, the integration boosts the exposure of Matterport tours to prospective buyers, bolstering the case for investing in the technology.

“The combination of realtor.com’s inventory with Matterport’s immersive user experience gives shoppers the opportunity to visit a tremendous volume of rentals and for-sale properties, from one location, and get the full experience of being inside,” said Matterport CEO Bill Brown in a statement. “It is the most efficient way to search for a new home.”

User experience and interaction

Users of realtor.com’s iOS app will now see a 3-D icon overlaid on the featured photo of listings that are equipped with the tours.

Tapping the icon drops users into the Matterport tour, where they can drag and tap to virtually saunter through a lifelike representation of the home, or zoom out to view a 3-D model of it.

Tours have been added to a few thousand for-sale and rental listings — only a tiny fraction of realtor.com’s total inventory — but realtor.com expects their volume to grow quickly as more agents embrace 3-D marketing.

Expanding platforms and providers

Realtor.com will also integrate Matterport tours into its desktop website and Android app later this spring, thrusting the immersive visualizations in front of realtor.com’s full user base. And the listing portal will work on similar integrations with 3-D tours from other providers.

“The technology that we have has the ability to accommodate other virtual tour providers,” Christie Farrell, a spokeswoman for realtor.com owner Move. “It’s intended to be capable of bringing in the provider of choice.”

Other 3-D home tour providers include Realvision, Planitar, immoviewer and InsideMaps.

To add a Matterport tour to a realtor.com listing, agents can enter a link to the tour into their multiple listing service (MLS) listing or sign into realtor.com to add the tour manually.

But many tours should still surface in their corresponding realtor.com listings regardless. That’s because Move has signed up for a content feed from Matterport, the first company to do so, according to Farrell.

The Matterport feed should automatically match 3-D tours with their realtor.com listings.

The bigger picture for 3-D

The partnership marks a big step forward for a form of digital marketing that many observers expect to go mainstream in the next few years.

Other big-name real estate companies, including Redfin and Sotheby’s International Realty, have added Matterport tour hosting to their websites, but realtor.com is the first for-sale listing portal to stitch the media into its listings.

In November 2016, Matterport claimed to host tours of around 85,000 active residential listings and to have sold 5,000 of its 3-D cameras.

Marketing firms charge around $200 for a typical Matterport tour in some areas, but much more in others. Some brokerages lower long-term costs by buying Matterport’s camera, priced at $4,500, and creating the tours in-house.

Realtor.com’s 3-D integration shows how the listing portal can tap synergies of News Corp’s digital real estate portfolio.

Realtor.com has turned to REA Group, an international digital real estate company owned by News Corp, for help with leveraging 3-D technology. (REA Group’s Australian listing portal, realestate.com.au., has hosted Matterport tours on its listings for some time.)

And News Corp.’s financial investment in Matterport seems likely to have positively contributed to coordination between realtor.com and the 3-D provider.

Zillow Group is investing in 3-D technology as well. The real estate giant’s executive chairman, Rich Barton, recently hinted of plans for “virtual co-shopping with your agent.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

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