Virtual Reality in Real Estate – Planomatic Interview

by Michael Lam | Oct 12, 2015


3D listings are an up and coming new technology trend in real estate. Whether it’s here to stay or just fizzle out is yet to be played out. More can be read about this from this article,3D Listings, are they worth it? RealEstateWhisper got together with, Shea Stone from Planomatic. She works in their marketing department and has been gracious enough to provide RealEstateWhisper an interview this year.

For those who are not familiar with 3D in relation to real estate, What is 3D virtual tours?

The best way for me to describe 3D real estate is by comparing it to a video game. Viewers online can experience a virtual reality so to speak. It’s almost as if you are the avatar exploring your environment. When you are viewing the tour, it’s as though you are actually there in the house. You can “walk” in any direction, you can look up or down as well, to an extent. This allows viewers to experience a space more thoroughly than photos or a floor plan alone would do. It’s sort of a combination of the best marketing attributes a home can have. Technology is being put to work to offer potential buyers the chance to see the details of a home, without ever having to physically visit it.

What type of camera are you using for this, 3D tours?

The camera we use is a Matterport 3D camera. It includes both 2D and 3D sensors to capture imagery and dimensions of a given space.

Given that historically the real estate industry has been slow to adopt new technologies or trends, where do you see 3D virtual reality and real estate be in the next 10 years? Is it really the “Next Big Thing” in real estate?

As everyone in the real estate industry knows, things are rapidly changing; especially in regards to technology. It’s hard to predict what the next “big thing” will be. We are living in an “instant gratification” world where we want information, and we want it now. The more details an agent can provide about one of their listings to a viewer, the more likely they are to peak interest. 3D tours do a fantastic job of putting the big picture together.

There are lots of new 3D virtual real estate companies popping up all around the country. Whats separating you from the competition?

PlanOmatic sets itself apart by always staying on the cutting edge of technology within the real estate industry, by offering some of the best prices for the services we provide and by having a great customer service team that supports our clients 100%. We always want to help our agents get more listings, market them better and sell them faster. That’s the motto we live by around here.

Why would an agent want to incorporate 3D in a listing of theres? Could you list of benefits that are obvious and some that aren’t so obvious but can have just equal value?

The simplest reason you would want to incorporate a 3D tour into your listing is to attract more buyers online. It sets you apart from the competition and can also boost your SEO if it’s linked through different websites. People will not only say, “wow” to the technology they are witnessing, but also to what is being provided to them up front, without even having to ask. When an agent includes photos, a floor plan and a 3D tour, you are making your potential buyers house hunt that much easier. It’s like eating at a restaurant when the server comes to fill up your empty glass of water. You don’t want to have to ask for it, you want it provided. Showcasing a 3D tour of your listing will also help agents get more serious leads. When you know that a viewer has already seen the tour online, you can assume that they are very serious/ interested in your listing. This can save time and money.

Can 3D virtual tours really replace physical tours? What other aspects viewing a home that perhaps 3D tour doesn’t or haven’t yet done well to capture?

No, I don’t believe 3D can replace a live, in person tour. Seeing a home in person is the most “true to form” way of prospecting your future house. We are visual creatures by nature, so 3D tours can provide a great viewing experience of a home without being on location. However there are obviously other senses that cannot be engaged by seeing a 3D tour. You cannot walk over to the dishwasher and pull out the sliding racks, you cannot hear the sound of your shoes on the hard wood floors. You cannot feel the water pressure coming from the shower-head or the microfiber carpet threads on your feet in the master bedroom. You cannot necessarily get a sense of how the house feels to you, but seeing a 3D tour online can certainly help you decide if it’s worth getting a walk through.

What are the current road blocks in this niche industry preventing it becoming more of a mass adoption in real estate? Is it the expense? The time to setup? Or promoting and bringing this to mass market for consumers to understand and expect during a home search?

I don’t think promoting this service is an issue in the industry. The best way to advertise it is honestly just to have interested clients view a tour. There is already buzz about this service in the real estate market and people are captivated by this technology. I would say the main factor is the cost. For example, the Matterport cameras we use cost upwards of four grand. An individual agent may look at this price and become immediately flustered. It’s important to remember that agents both nationally and internationally have a range of listings they make actually be working to sell throughout any given year. Someone who is say, not a “top producing” agent may see this price as an out of reach cost. After attending the NAR Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo event, I can say personally that I overheard a group of 3-5 agents saying how cool the product was, but that it was too expensive. That is where PlanOmatic comes in. We partner with the company who provides us the 3D cameras (Matterport), we train our photographers/ technicians to use them and we provide the 3D tour as a service to our clientele in specified service areas where we have the 3D pro cameras an our trained technicians. It’s a win win for everyone. Agents are able to use this technology to stand out from the competition, and PlanOmatic and Matterport are able to provide their products and services to the industry.

Where does your company have a presence in terms of states in USA? Do you have any homes to share 3D tours your company has done on the west coast, specifically in Bay Area / Silicon Valley?

We service several states across the nation. We do a lot of work on the East Coast, a lot of work in California (SF & LA areas) also in Miami, FL and the big cities in TX. Michigan, where PlanOmatic was founded, is also a big hub for our services.
Here is a list of the states we work in:

  • CA
  • CT
  • Washington DC
  • FL
  • GA
  • MA
  • MI
  • MN
  • NH
  • NJ
  • NV
  • NY
  • PA
  • RI
  • TX
  • AZ
  • NC
  • WI
  • WA
  • CO
  • MD
  • VA

Matterport 3D services specifically, we currently service the following counties:

  • Florida
  • Miamie-Dade
  • Broward
  • Monroe (travel fees may apply)
  • Connecticut
  • Fairfield
  • New York
  • Westchester
  • Rockland
  • Bronx
  • New York
  • Queens
  • Kings
  • Richmond
  • Nassau
  • Suffolk
  • New Jersey
  • Bergen
  • Hudson
  • Essex
  • Passaic (travel fees may apply)
  • Union (travel fees may apply)

The real estate industry is widely understood and accepted be a long process from capturing a lead to closing on a home. Where do you think along that process needs the most improvement (or attention)?

I would say each step along the way can always be improved. Overall, I think that targeting your audience is the most important piece to successful real estate. Agents should invest their efforts where it matters most, where they will most likely find a buyer, and close the deal.

There’s been an ongoing debate of the true value of real estate agents. Do you think agents job will eventually get automated to point they won’t be needed any more? Some silicon valley companies are betting that is the case. What’s your take?

The selling or buying of a home can be a real task. I don’t think we should underestimate the experience and skill it takes for agents to do their jobs. Not to say that some individuals wouldn’t have an easier time accomplishing a “for sale by owner” deal, than others, but it would be a challenge to overcome. People used to hire agents primarily to help find them a home, but now, it’s for the whole process, from the house hunt to closing the deal. Individuals may lack local market knowledge that is necessary to properly price their home, or perhaps on what a realistic offer would be to close the deal on a desired listing. I believe that for many home buyers/ sellers, having a real estate agent helps lessen their burden tremendously and they see a great benefit in having the professional explain the process and guide them through these unfamiliar waters.

Planomatic contact information.
HQ Contact info:
866-599-7526 | |

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