• Video embeds could allow agents to 'sell' the home and highlight features as they would in person.

Some real estate agents are concerned that 3-D home tours can reduce the number of opportunities for agents to “sell” buyers on a home.

That’s because the immersive experiences may diminish a home’s foot traffic by allowing more prospective buyers to rule out the property online.

But what if the listing agent could bring their sales skills to bear inside the tours, such as by adding videos that highlight the quality of a home’s kitchen, furniture or amenities?

Matterport, a leading provider of 3-D home tours, has unveiled a new feature that lets agents do just that. The enhancement lets agents tell rich stories about homes online and comes as 3-D real estate marketing continues to gain traction.

Embedding a ‘virtual agent’

Matterport has upgraded its “tags” feature to allow agents to embed videos, graphics and other media in their Matterport tours. Previously, the tags only let creators annotate the tours with links and text.

“If there were particular features that they would be telling a potential buyer about as they were walking through the home, this gives the agent a way to also communicate that  … through the Matterport [3-D tour],” said Matterport CEO Bill Brown.

A home tour that uses the feature might display a marker to viewers just after they enter the front door. Clicking the marker could play a video, in which the home’s listing agent would introduce the property.

“Almost like a little virtual agent embedded within the the 3-D experiences,” Brown said.

Agents could also use the improved tags to sprinkle in graphics that promote high-end stoves, dishwashers or other appliances.

Access to a content library

The multimedia tags are powered by Embedly, a service that makes it easy to add media to websites. Embedly can pull content from 400 media sources, including YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram and Flickr.

“End users add a YouTube link, for example, and we/embedly take care of the rest,” said Matterport spokeswoman Linda Itskovitz, speaking of how agents can could nestle a video into a tour.

In a breakthrough moment for 3-D marketing, realtor.com recently began allowing agents to embed 3-D home tours in realtor.com listings.

“We think it’s a start of the process for a lot better distribution of 3-D content across the whole [real estate] ecosystem,” Brown said of the realtor.com integration.

He added that Matterport is working on 3-D integration with a number of other listing portals.

“We do have multiple efforts underway but nothing I can talk about,” he said.

Share of VR views ‘disproportionately high’

In December of 2016, Matterport said that it powered 3-D tours for around 2 percent of U.S. residential listings and expected that number to grow to between 4 and 6 percent in 2017. The company is processing twice as much content as a year ago, Itskovitz told Inman.

Matterport’s tours can be viewed with virtual reality (VR) headsets through a mobile app.

Itskovitz said that the share of VR views of its tours “is disproportionately high when considering the number of VR headsets owned by consumers.”

“Agents appear to be driving this VR usage rate, as they are increasingly seeing results (as measured by homes sold sight unseen), due to the proliferation of advanced technologies such as 3-D and VR,” she said.

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

Email Teke Wiggin.

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