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Virtual Reality Open Homes: 3D Mapping for Real Estate Agents

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Real Estate and Virtual Reality, but today we’ll talk about the technology behind building the virtual reality walk-throughs and how easy it is for you to get into the game. Below is a 3D mapping example your clients can play around with:

The above sample is addicting, isn’t it? So how does it all work?

A key first-step of that process is mapping the space with a 3D camera. Although there are plenty of 3D cameras readily available to consumers, mapping the space (as seen in the example above) requires some fancy computer footwork and some seriously beefy processing power.

Fortunately there are already a few companies like Matterport that have created low-cost, all-in-one 3D mapping solutions for real estate. Matterport builds and sells the mapping devices, but if you aren’t ready to invest in your very own model (estimates place the cost around $4,500.00 for the mapping device and $49.00/mo for cloud storage), Matterport also has a service which connects you with 3D mapping professionals.

To understand the process, imagine doing a 3D scan of a house from the inside. It’s combination of photography and scanners that produce a virtual model. This is more than a 360 photo that can only rotate around a fixed point. After a full 3D scan, you end up a with a virtual model that can explored from multiple viewpoints.

Using an iPad, the 3D mapping camera is placed around the house in key locations. Mapping is as easy as placing the camera, stepping into a different room out of sight, and pressing the shutter button on an iPad. The camera remembers where it’s placed for each shot and uploads each shot into the cloud. Once you’re done shooting, the camera is able to build a 3D map in the cloud. An average 1800 sq/ft home takes roughly one to two hours to process and finish!

There are companies that offer similar products as stand-alone devices, like Structure. The advantage of using a full-service like Matterport is that it’s streamlined. You end up paying for the service as a whole, including the cloud-based processing power.

The entire 3D mapping process goes like this:

  • Pick a house to 3D map.
  • Get the house scanned, either by yourself or using a photographer hired through Matterport.
  • Get the scan uploaded and processed by Matterport, who hosts all your scans online in the cloud.
  • Have your sellers agent place the scan in the listing.
  • And presto! Now your clients can do a virtual walk-through.

Once these steps are complete, you have VR-ready scan of your listing. This enables you to run clients through these in the comfort of your office. You can virtually go through several at once rather than one at a time. You can use either a browser on your computer or a VR headset for an immersive experience. The browser mode offers several different views, including Dollhouse, Inside (like VR), and Floorplan (similar to how Google Maps Street View works).

Check out the video below to see for yourself:

One thing to keep an eye out for in the future is companies like Matterport serving as hosts for all these scans. Imagine it being like Google Image search but offering you full inside 3D views. At some point, it might even be on Google and an MLS standard.

That’s it for this week’s Tech Thursday. Make sure to check back in next week!