Virtual reality: the future of real estate marketing

Posted by Staff Writer on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 10:15am.

Most real estate clients expect marketing materials such as brochures, professional photographs and videos. But Sotheby’s International Realty is taking it a step further  into the world of virtual reality.

Sotheby’s International Realty branches including Island Sotheby’s Realty on Maui are leading the way in innovative real estate marketing by allowing potential buyers to explore homes using 3-D virtual tours. In fact, Sotheby’s International Realty was the first real estate company to start using the technology  known as Matterport  that allows potential buyers to tour homes from thousands of miles away.

“The viewer interacts with the home, and walks through the house the way they want,” said Island Sotheby’s International Realty agent Elena Panigada.

Panigada uses Matterport to show this $13.7 million estate nestled on the slopes of the west Maui mountains.

Panigada said Matterport tours complement professional photographs and videos by allowing potential buyers to familiarize themselves with the structure of the home. By using the software’s navigation tools, clients can tour the home, with the ability to look up and down from the ceiling to floors. Clients can also view the architectural plans on a 3-dimensional plane. 

For example, Panigada is using the technology to market a luxury estate on Maui’s west side. Nestled in the slopes of the West Maui mountains, the 6,640-square-foot estate is equipped with four bedrooms and more than five bathrooms with endless panoramic views from South Maui to Lanai. The technology allows buyers on the mainland to explore the home without actually being there in person, she said.

“It’s like a virtual open house,” she said.

The technology was helpful yet again when she was representing a client in Japan, who ended up buying a one-bedroom condo sight unseen. The listing agent has used Matterport to offer a virtual 3-D tour of the home, and Panigada's client was able sufficiently explore the floor plan and purchase the unit without ever stepping foot on Maui, she said.

Matterport allows clients to view the home as if they were walking through it themselves.

Rob Shelton, vice president of Island Sotheby’s, said that using virtual reality tours is also critical when showing vacation rentals that are frequently occupied and tricky to schedule showings for.

“It allows the person to go through the unit without actually visiting it,” Shelton said.

So far, the technology has helped Shelton sell an oceanfront condominium that was used often as a vacation rental, he said. Although not all agents are using the technology yet, he expects Matterport to become a vital component of showing homes in a digital environment in the 21st century.

“We really want to be on the cutting edge, whether it be video or Matterport or anything else that comes out,” said Shelton.

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