The real estate and housing sector is one of the largest economic engines in the U.S. economy. At roughly 17% of total GDP [Source], any major change to this sector will have lasting impact. Although the real estate and housing market is ripe for disruption, it hasn’t experienced as much technological change as other sectors like consumer retail. One technology that is changing this narrative is 3D tours. 3D imaging enables buyers to explore every square foot of a property without even visiting it. Although the technology is enabling convenience for home buyers, the main value 3D tours provide is giving a competitive advantage to agents by enabling them to sell their listings faster and at a higher price. This technology holds tremendous value for both buyers and sellers in accelerating the property buying process.
History of 3D Tours
Slides being used as 3D toursThe first types of 3D tours came in the form of slides mapping out different areas of a property. These slides would include still photos to give buyers a preview of the property without having to go to it physically. Slides were mainly used as complementary tools when a presentation was being given to a buyer. Although slides helped establish some of the early digital presentations for properties, it lacked the technology to fully capture properties for buyers.
Matterport 3D dollhouse technology
Matterport made a significant impact on 3D tours by patenting 3D dollhouse technology to capture any physical space. By entering the 3D tour market in 2011, Matterport pioneered cameras with advanced depth sensor technologies to capture the 3D information of a property. This creates the foundation for 3D dollhouses.
What made 3D dollhouse valuable to buyers was that it provided them with a visual presentation of how the rooms and floor fit together. With the ability to drag, rotate, zoom in and out of the 3D dollhouse, a buyer can get a full layout of a property prior to even seeing it.
Although Matterport brought technology and a lot of attention to the industry, it also had several vital shortcomings. First, Matterport’s 3D tour solution was simply too expensive for most brokerages and agents. Additionally, Matterport was still lagging behind China in terms of 3D tour technology. This is because China has adopted 2.5D solutions while Matterport has yet to do so.
The rise of inexpensive 3D tours and Asteroom vs Matterport
The concept of 3D tours has been out for many years, but it wasn’t until 2018 that affordable 3D tours hit the market with the birth of Asteroom. Prior to Asteroom, other companies were charging extremely high prices that didn’t provide a meaningful ROI for brokerages and agents. Key issues raised by the use of 3D tours included the cost and the time required to complete a scan. Brokerage and agents needed an affordable, easy-to-use solution that would delight their buyers and help agents sell more properties.
The demand for 3D tours from consumers was there, all the market needed was an affordable solution. In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conducted an extensive survey that exhibited that 3D tours and floor plans were the two of the top five most important features by all buyers when choosing which listing to visit.
Asteroom vs Matterport Technology:
Asteroom entered the market and started to immediately push the boundaries of PropTech. Asteroom started to address the shortcomings of Matterport in both technology and business modeling.
China standardized the use of 2.5D virtual dollhouses in their real estate market and Asteroom is bringing 2.5D technology to the U.S. market. In less than two years, Asteroom has become the leading provider of 2.5D virtual dollhouse tours in the U.S.
2.5D virtual dollhouse tours are superior to Matterport’s 3D tours because they are easy to create, cost less and they maintain high-quality imaging. This helps address some of the pain points of virtual touring like unaffordability, time consumption, and more.
COVID-19 and the standardization of 3D tours by Zillow and Realtor.com
Covid-19 brought a radical shift to consumer expectations, especially in real estate. The demand for digital transactions and 3D tours for properties rose to an all-time high. Brokerages reported up to a 494% increase in agent-led 3D tours during the peak demand. [Source] Digital solutions like showcasing a property by 3D tours became the only way consumers were able to explore properties of interest.
Even with the return to normal work conditions, consumer expectations are still very high in regards to the digital presentation of a property. Realtor.com stated it continues to see high demand for 3D tours after the pandemic and they have partnered with Asteroom as a technology provider for their listings. [Source]
Zillow and Realtor.com, two of the biggest listing platforms, are playing an active role in standardizing 3D tours for properties. Through several studies, Zillow has proven that when other variables are held constant, properties with 3D tours sell faster and at higher prices.[Source]
The standardization of 3D tours is being accelerated by both Zillow and Realtor.com offering sellers the option to add 3D tours to their listings. As consumers see more and more 3D tours, having a 3D tour will become the standard to sell a property online. 3D tour adoption will increase dramatically as listings with Asteroom 3D tours will rank higher and get more engagement on Zillow and Realtor.com. Agents and brokers that adopt fast will have a head start and can take advantage of this before it fully becomes a standard. Real estate giant Redfin is already starting to integrate 3D tours on all of their listings.
Future: 3D Staging
The future of 3D tours lies in 3D staging. To create the most immersive digital buying experience, 3D staging will be needed. 3D staging allows buyers to truly envision living in the property by using current staging technology and incorporating the ability to look at the property in 3D. This will be revolutionary because it will provide buyers with an accurate and photorealistic experience of the property
Asteroom is aiming to make the price of staging even more accessible in the near future to enable agents to use staging on all listings. You can explore Asteroom’s staging services here.