Real estate brokers using virtual reality to show homes remotely
March 11, 2017
Steamboat Springs — When photos, videos and even online 3D tours aren't enough, prospective home buyers can now strap on virtual reality goggles and move through a listing hands-free.
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty recently picked up its first virtual reality headset, and it only takes a couple minutes and a phone app to get the feel for the living room inside a listing, such as the five-bedroom luxury home on Bear Drive offered by broker Cam Boyd.
"This is a new wave of technology," Boyd said.
The virtual reality goggles utilize Matterport technology, and any home with a 3D listing tour already created can be pulled up using the Matterport VR phone app.
The technology helps prospective buyers visualize a home that might be occupied by nightly rentals, a common occurrence in resort markets, or can be used to help narrow down listings before beginning in-person tours.
SSIR marketing director Traci Smith said she was initially skeptical about whether virtual reality goggles could prove valuable in the real estate business.
"But you really do get a feel for what it's like to be in the property," Smith said. "It takes you from 2D to 3D. You feel like you can reach out and grab that vase off the counter."
Currently, the company has about two or three dozen listings with 3D tours that would work with the virtual reality goggles, and the goggles can be used to view 3D listings from other real estate agencies, locally and across the country.
"Agents are really starting to see the benefit from it," Smith said.
Smith said shooting a 3D tour for a listing doesn't take any longer than shooting traditional photos, and the 3D tours are created by photographers and delivered to brokers within a day or two of shooting.
The view inside the headset is a little fuzzy, but can be focused with a dail on the left; the eye spacing is adjusted with another dial on top. The viewer moves his or her head left to right and up and down to look through a room and lines up with dots in various areas to move through the house.
While viewers can walk around with the goggles on, it isn't necessary and would probably leave the viewer bumping into tables and chairs in the room they're really in.
"We recommend you do it sitting down," Smith said.
For Steamboat Springs buyers looking at properties from another city, the company can arrange to send a cardboard virtual reality player, and the buyer can download the app to see listings.
For buyers in town, the first headset is available at SSIR's Wildhorse Plaza office, and the company is planning to buy more.