It’s obvious to any observer that technology is rapidly changing the way we live, work, learn, and communicate. It seems that hardly a day goes by without some new and interesting technology being foisted upon the American public – whether we like it or not. When it comes to the technology of selling your home, however, it seems the biggest change recently is the advent of Social Media – but that started years ago now. Today, there’s a new technology which is set to radically change the game, again: the Matterport has come to Santa Cruz.
So what’s Matterport? Matterport is a company in Mountain View, California: Google’s home town, the Internet’s ground zero. They’ve developed a 3D camera which enables the creation a complete three-dimensional representation of a home. This allows you “walk” through a space to experience it as if you were there. The effect is a bit like Google Street View, which a lot of people are familiar with. Only instead of being locked outside, the Matterport system takes visitors into the home to explore it with a compelling, photorealistic experience.
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For years now, Real Estate agents have been showcasing homes with high-resolution video and professional photography, including “panoramic” photos which allow viewers to pan from left to right to get a feel for a home. The Matteprort camera leapfrogs these more traditional methods of showcasing a home, scanning a home’s interior from dozens of points, allowing viewers to see a home from literally any angle. It is, truly, the next best thing to being there.
The 3D model of the home is stored on Matterport’s web servers, and a link to them can be embedded into just about any web page. One of the really cool features of the Matterport technology is that it allows for a “dollhouse view” of the home, which really gives viewers an idea of the layout and distribution of the home. It’s as if you’re seeing each floor from the perspective of looking down inside the house, through the roof and ceilings. From that view, you can click any room to jump right inside of it to explore it in detail.
Seb Frey, well known as a leading and innovative real estate broker in Santa Cruz county, is one of the first Realtors to adopt the technology in the county. He recently brought Tim Denbo, of Pleasanton-based VirtualTourCafe, to Aptos to do a Matterport scan of one of his listings in Rio del Mar, a custom built 11-year old 2236sf home at 692 Rio del Mar Blvd.
The scanning system consists primarily of two pieces of hardware: the Matterport camera, and an iPad. The process requires moving the camera dozens of times to thoroughly scan a home with the device’s six cameras and three infra-red scanners. It’s time consuming and expensive: each 1,000 square feet of home requires about an hour to shoot, and costs around $150 – meaning a 3,000 square foot home would take 3 hours and $450 to scan.
When asked about the actual value weighted against the time and expense to do the shoot, Seb Frey replied,
Most homes in Santa Cruz county are truly unique, and you really have to get inside to appreciate them. With everyone’s busy schedule, traffic, and the fact that many amazing homes are a bit off the beaten path, it can be hard to get buyers in the door, even with low inventory like in today’s market. Using a technology like the Matterport 3D camera lets me bring buyers virtually into the home to more fully experience and appreciate it – and that’s going to draw them in. After they experience this amazing home in Aptos through the Matterport scan, I think we’ll have folks knocking the actual door down to come take a look in person.
Tim Denbo, the president & CEO of VirtualTour Cafe, had this to share:
This technology is really new – in fact, we’ve only been offering the Matterport 3D scans since this past January, and this is the first time we’ve ever done a scan in Santa Cruz county. We’re excited to bring this new 3D scanning technology to Santa Cruz, which gives agents, brokers, and home sellers a competitive edge.
Although the product has been commercially available for only a few months, it’s already making headlines from coast to coast. Inman News, the premiere real estate industry news web site, recently reported that Zillow is making Matterport 3D scans directly available from a special link on its web site.
Not only is Zillow adding direct support for Matterport scans, Matterport recently revealed that it had partnered with the San Francisco Association of Realtors (SFAR) to add a special field to that association’s MLS system so members add Matterport models to their listings. It seems as though it’s only a matter of time before other MLS systems (such MLSListings.com, comprised by Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey, and San Mateo Counties) add direct support for such scans.
The future of home tours has arrived, and it’s fitting that it got to Santa Cruz county so quickly. According to Seb Frey:
Santa Cruz county has got it goin’ on. We have lots of people here who really think outside the box, which I guess is why I feel so at home here. It’s fun to be on the leading edge of real estate marketing, that’s for sure. I think my clients deserve nothing less.