Dec 08, 2021 by - Obeo

The Ultimate Guide To 3D Tours

Though often used interchangeably, Virtual Tours and 3D Tours are uniquely different. Virtual Tours began in 1999 – customers click hotspots on a 2D floorplan to view a 360-degree panorama image. 3D Tours were first released in 2012 – customers interact with a fully rendered 3D model to move throughout the property. 3D Tours give listings a rich, immersive, multi-dimensional experience. Only two platforms currently provide a 3D Tour: Matterport and EyeSpy360. Other solutions may use the term 3D (such as Zillow 3D Home), but technically offer Virtual Tours. Driven by the love affair customers have with interaction, 3D Tour innovation continues at rapid speeds, further differentiating from Virtual Tour solutions.

Use Cases for 3D Tours

It’s no secret that the Real Estate industry is largely regarded as a technology laggard. Although a persistent hunt for differentiating products runs deep in most Agent’s DNA, most “innovative” solutions are nuanced revisions of existing products (i.e., Virtual Tours). Adoption of new technology is always a challenge, especially when the use case isn’t clear. 3D Tours are a great example of an actual technology that reverses the typical industry trend. The use cases for a 3D Tour are clear:

Out-of-area buyers

Off-location scenarios mostly include international buyers, relocation, and impacts of remote work. 3D Tours make it easy to show a listing to an interested buyer residing out of the area. Although listing information and photos remain the predominant method to initially capture a buyer’s attention, allowing them to tour the listing from the comfort of their own home is game changing.

Pro Tip: Some naysayers argue that 3D Tours deter people from calling the listing agent because they can look through the house virtually and avoid calling you for information? (A lost “lead”). Data shows, however, that home buyers want 3D Tours and are more interested and qualified when calling on listings with a 3D Tour.

COVID-19

2021 introduced a listing phenomenon and revolution in the real estate industry. With mask wearing, social distancing, and remote working, consumers spent many hours browsing listings, an addiction referred to as Real Estate porn. Captivating 2D images introduced properties, but 3D Tours consumed their attention. OBEO saw a 750%  increase in 3D Tour production nationwide, an astounding increase not uncommon among other brokerages.

Pro Tip: Make sure you know why you’re investing in a 3D Tour before you choose the 3D Tour provider – do you want priority status on a search portal, quality experience, or features that connect potential buyers to your brand? OBEO gives you the best 3D Tours options.

Marketing Collateral

Investing in high quality media to build your marketing portfolio is a tactic the most successful agents employ. You can talk so much before potential customers want to see how you do business. A website with the images and 3D Tours of your listings shows how much you care about the process of listing properties.

Pro Tip: Hosting a 3D Tour on your website requires a long-term hosting option from the 3D Tour provider’s platform. Depending on how many you want to host, Matterport is a premium priced product, EyeSpy360 is more economical, and Zillow 3D Home is free. When ordering a 3D Tour from OBEO, you get 12 months of free hosting.

Architectural Drawings

Another popular byproduct of 3D Tours is the potential to create a working floor plan. While not universally adopted by consumers as a necessity in viewing a listing, the consumer segment that visualizes listings through floor plans really appreciates the additional feature. In almost all cases, the floor plan renderings are created by the 3D Tour provider for an additional nominal fee ($15 extra at the time of this writing).

Pro Tip: LiDAR technology is widely recognized as the best technology to capture highly accurate dimensions.  Cameras without LiDAR have the capacity to transform images into working floor plans, but the error tolerance is less consistent. The OBEO Tour is a great solution to elegantly display your photos, 3D Tours, 2D floorplans, videos, and all other listing media.

Choosing A 3D Tour Platform

Matterport and EyeSpy360 are the only 3D Tour platforms for real estate. We included Zillow 3D Home in this analysis because of the “3D” name and its popularity. While each platform is continually evolving, at the time of this article our findings were based on testing the following categories: camera equipment, capture methodology and software, consumer visualization experience, rendering quality, and platform features.

Matterport

  • Equipment: Matterport invested heavily into LiDAR equipped cameras. Their most recent camera, the Matterport Pro2, commands a hefty $3,000 price tag. For a 134-megapixel sensor, the imagery quality still suffers when compared to the dynamic range capability of an 18-megapixel dSLR. Recent updates to their rendering software included functionality for other 360 capable cameras. A mobile device is also required to transmit Tours to their platform.
  • Capture method & software: Capturing takes longer when compared to the competition – each scene takes about 30 seconds for the Matterport camera to rotate on the tripod. To complete their 3D model, the distance between hotspots is 8 feet. 
  • Consumer Visualization: Viewer interaction includes clicking thumbnails, rotating the 3D model and clicking on the hotspots within the model, viewing the 2D floor plan, or a using a measurement tool. 
  • Rendering quality: When captured with a LiDAR device, floor plans maintain a 1% accuracy tolerance. Rendering artifacts and pixilation along the outer edges is a frequent observation in completed 3D models.
  • Platform features:  Features remain similar when compared to other platforms, including the ability to customize the 3D Tour with a logo.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars. While Matterport is widely considered the household name in 3D Tours, with the heavy investment into specialized equipment and higher subscription fees (required to maintain an active 3D Tour), it remains a premium priced option for average listings that need standard features. It is well suited for listings that require architectural accuracy, but image quality with 2D stills is still an issue.

EyeSpy360

  • Equipment: Compatible with many 360-degree capable cameras. EyeSpy360’s web-based application allows you to upload the images directly to their platform from the 360 camera, thereby not requiring a mobile device.
  • Capture method & software: Capturing solely depends on how many navigational hotspots you want to give your viewing audience (8 feet is not a requirement). To render an accurate 3D model, you must follow their standardized procedure of shooting, moving from the basement to the upper floors in a clockwise pattern. 
  • Consumer Visualization: Viewers can interact view each scene by clicking a thumbnail, view a 2D floor plan with hotspots, rotate the 3D model, play a pre-recorded tour, or view the Tour while connecting to you live. 
  • Rendering quality: EyeSpy360’s model delivers the highest quality 3D model, showing crisp lines in every scene. Additionally, EyeSpy360 is the only platform that allows you to edit photos before uploading to their platform. If you use an editing service like OBEO’s Image Enhancement, this feature alone can increase quality substantially.
  • Platform features: EyeSpy360 created multiple branding options, including on the tour and hotspot locations. Larger customers can also white label the experience. Additionally, interacting with live viewers is unique to EyeSpy360.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. EyeSpy360’s ease of capturing, superior 3D modeling, and features that connect with live viewers make it our most recommended 3D Tour platform. Low-cost hosting options make it an affordable option, especially for longer term marketing collateral purposes.

Zillow Home

  • Equipment: Compatible with 360-degree capable cameras. A mobile device is also required and access to their proprietary Zillow Home App. The App uploads images directly to Zillow as they are captured, so an internet service is highly recommended.
  • Capture method & software: Capturing solely depends on how many navigational hotspots you want to give your viewing audience (8 feet is not a requirement). The mobile app used to sync with their platform certainly has potential, but only slight improvements made over the past 5 years leaves some doubt on future innovations.
  • Consumer Visualization: Zillow’s 3D Home does not offer a 3D model. Click on hotspots shown on a 2D floor plan to see the 360 images. Depending on the device, the thumbnail images of scenes dominate the field of view and distract the viewing experience. 
  • Rendering quality: Image quality is directly correlated to the 360-device capturing the image. You run a high risk in poor image quality if a non-360 camera captures the images (i.e., mobile devices).
  • Platform features: The most compelling features are listing preference on Zillow’s search results and free hosting.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Even though it is marketed as a 3D Tour, Zillow 3D Home is really a 2D 360 virtual tour. The pandemic created a massive opportunity for Zillow, Inc to further cement their juggernaut status by prioritizing listings with Zillow’s proprietary 3D Tour. Preferred listing status on search results is compelling. No subscription fees make it a compelling solution. The capture method is still cumbersome, especially if done with a mobile device, and the App performance needs improvement.

Other Notables

Virtual Tour options abound in the real estate industry. Some, like Zillow, say they create 3D Tours, but they produce Virtual Tours. The only platforms producing 3D Tours are Matterport and EyeSpy360. Other notable Virtual Tour platforms include Google, Asterzoom, and Ricoh 360.

Considerations With 3D Tours

Most sellers appreciate seeing that you’ve invested in a 3D Tour. They ultimately enjoy it and likely share it with their social circles, potentially giving you more exposure. It’s a worthwhile investment in many cases. But make sure your purpose for getting a 3D Tour match the platform and beware of these key details:

Virtual Tour vs. 3D Tour

Almost interchangeable names, but the difference is very clear: Virtual Tours typically have a floor plan with hotspots that, when clicked, show the 360 image of the room. 3D Tours have a fully rendered 3D model with included hotspots.

Re-Scans

Forget a room? Matterport and Zillow do not allow changes to their models. The entire listing must be re-shoot. If you kept the EyeSpy360 images from your 360 camera, you can add the missing images and re-upload to create a new 3D Tour.

Quality

Even if the 3D tour is captured with the same camera, there are still differences. EyeSpy360 allows you to edit images before you upload. Matterport’s massive megapixel camera still suffers from dynamic range issues. Zillow gives you exactly what was captured without enhancement capability. To get the best quality, enhance your 3D images with OBEO’s Image Enhancement.

Delivery Times

Turn-around time differs between providers. Each platform guarantees a final product within 24 hours, but Matterport is king on this mountain, often delivering a model within 4 hours. Zillow comes in 2nd (approximately 8 hours) with EyeSpy360 as a close 3rd approximately 12 hours).

Property Size

Square footage heavily influences the overall cost of a 3D Tour. Common pricing structures with photography service providers includes a tiered structure (ranges of square footage) though some will add it to an existing package for a flat fee. The more square footage needed to capture, the more time it takes and the higher the cost. OBEO simplified 3D pricing, making it easy and affordable to get 3D Tours.

Time On-Site

Several aspects influence the time required to capture a full listing, including the following: mirrors, moving objects (like pets), cameras that require rotation (like the Matterport scanners), Apps that require a strong cell signal to transmit, and Apps that freeze or give an unreliable experience. All these and more can influence the time on site…and time is money when creating 3D Tours.

Equipment

We’ve tested many 360-degree capable cameras. If you want a camera that is cost effective, easy to use, reliable, is compatible with multiple platforms, and that has decent support from its company, then the Ricoh Theta V or Z1 is a great option.

About OBEO

OBEO provides reliable, high-quality real estate photography and editing services at affordable prices. Whether you use our photographers or editors, you get quality content, on time, every time. Call 800-729-6236 to get started or visit https://www.obeo.com/lca/

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