Tech Connect: Virtual reality, 3-D technology will still need agents

Matterport and GeoCV share plans to further integrate 3-D and VR technology into real estate

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NEW YORK — Virtual reality and 3-D tours can help agents get more out of their listings but aren’t a threat to agents’ livelihood — experts said Tuesday at Tech Connect, a special morning of programming at Inman Connect New York.

GeoCV CEO Anton Yakubenko and Matterport CEO Bill Brown told the audience about their plans to further integrate 3-D and VR technology into real estate. They were joined by Compass broker Brian Lewis.

“It gives you the ability to tell the story about the property without having to physically be there,” Brown said.

The VR CEOs described how agents can already use consumer technology to make their own 3-D tours, for example, by capturing 360 degree images on their iPhone. Soon, they said, agents will be able to use their phones to create a full 3-D tour.

Last week Zillow Group unveiled a new, free app called Zillow 3D Home that will allow agents, brokers, and real estate photographers to capture home tours directly on their iPhones, and upload them to Zillow listings, though Brown draws a distinction between the appearance of Zillow’s 360-degree virtual tours and the 3-D dollhouse models Matterport is known for.

But the increasing prevalence of 3-D tours won’t eliminate the need for real estate agents, they assured the audience. Agents should manually add highlights to their tours so that when a client is experiencing a walkthrough through the home, they can click on a pop-up in the kitchen and learn more about an appliance or a fireplace.

And for clients who are “not digital natives,” some guidance on how to use VR technology might still be needed.

“One of the reasons why people use any kind of 3-D or VR is to differentiate themselves and differentiate their listings,” Yakubenko said. “If you put yourself in the tour, that makes it even more valuable than just showing the space in 3-D or VR.”

Beyond just using VR to show clients more realistic views of a home before they make the trip over, clients will be able to use augmented reality to learn more about the home while they’re touring it.

“We started off trying to bridge the physical world into the digital world,” Brown said. “Now we take all that digital content and try to bring it back into the physical.”

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