Matterport: The New Age of Real Estate?

Matterport is a new 3D camera that is designed to scan the interior of homes. The software stitches all of the still images together and creates a virtual tour of the home. Not a virtual tour as in a slideshow that realtors love, but one where you can actually walk through the home yourself. You can look up and down, left and right, move forward, backward, and so on. The technology, even in the state it’s in, is actually pretty incredible and really helps show off the home in a way we haven’t really been able to experience before.

Pros

When selling a home, the busy buyer can’t always make it to take a look, although that's the best way to actually see the home. Matterport places you inside and gives you the freedom to look around yourself. For cross-country and overseas buyers, this is perfect because they don’t need to go look at the house in person to get a first impression. They can take the virtual walkthrough and get an idea of the home through this amazing technology.

The Matterport is simple to use: You link to the iPad through the app, connect to Wi-Fi, get out of the way, and scan. Matterport then creates a floor plan based off its surroundings as you move the camera through the home. It's completely automated and doesn’t require any knowledge on photography. It will shoot HDR and spin on its own to scan, and on top of that it will stitch everything together and produce the virtual tour then post it to their server within a few hours.

Cons

As a photographer, our job is to make things look nice. We want the photos we take to show the space as best as possible whether we add lighting or stage the room. With the Matterport, sadly we cannot achieve that awesome look (in this case I say the “Mike Kelley look”). The Matterport has trouble scanning in tight spaces and by mirrors, but with a little push you can get it going again — though it can be a little tough. Over time they will fix these bugs and this thing will be scanning with no problems at all.

Photo by Mike Kelley.

Photo by Mike Kelley.

Exteriors are not able to be scanned quite yet. I'm not sure if there is a way it can do this or not, but that would be really cool to see it expand into certain areas outdoors to really get an idea of the home and property.

This technology is also so new. New to the point where not enough people know about it, especially agents who are the ones that should learn about this new technology and offer their buyers a new way to see the home. Although it takes a while to scan a house, some homes may be worth it because people can look where they want to look and nothing is really hidden from them.

Future

This will be introduced to virtual reality and you will be able to use goggles to see the space. Now you can stand inside of a house however many miles away and take a look at it yourself. The tech savvy, younger generation who are addicted to their phones and social media will have a new way to find themselves a home. They will be the ones to help spread the word and help Matterport grow.

Conclusion

Virtual reality may take away the actual reality of things, but it allows us to see places and things that we sometimes wouldn't be able to see. I can imagine this becoming a big part of real estate in the years to come, especially as the technology continues to get better and better. It gives you another option on how to view a home, and the more homes that have this, the more demand there will be to get it in every home for every buyer to see.

Is Matterport the future for selling real estate? Do you think other companies will be able to match their technology? Or is this just another option for realtors to have?

Find out more about Matterport on their website.

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28 Comments

VR and, more likely AR (Augmented Reality) is the future for home repairs/ sales and many other industries. It's something the industry has been pushing towards for a while now and some are already trialling technology to be used for virtual estates through MS HoloLens. Google and Nokia are also both pushing their own recording systems for interior immersion/viewing with Google being in the lead with their Streetview system.

The next 5 years is going to get very interesting as computer interaction is evolving away from traditional haptic systems or will combine a hybrid of haptic and kinetic type systems.

Ty Poland's picture

I can already see a lot of this happening, google has so much covered with their map that it's hard to believe someone could pass them up. Augmented Reality is gonna be huge once we get there, I'm sure real estate doesn't have to go that far unless someone maybe wanted to design the house or change something about it in the system.

I think, soon couple accessories on a dslr will do similar job.

Ty Poland's picture

soon enough that may be true. The Matterport is pretty much a separate job on its own so I would imagine thats where it would start on a DSLR, only downside is how would it all get put together?

E Port's picture

Agents aren't willing to properly compensate the photographer for this service at the moment. It takes twice as long as a regular shoot, but they think it shouldn't cost anymore than regular photos. This is because as a service, the photography is way more valuable to them. This combined with the insane hardware cost and the lack of demand from the clients leads to a terrible investment. Maybe when a 3D viewing device (VR or 3DTV) is as common as HDTVs, it will be an entirely different story.

Ty Poland's picture

I think they will have to learn that things are changing and accept this type of stuff in hopes it will benefit them. Most realtors don't care so much about this and for some reason are still obsessed with a photo slideshow. As a young buyer, I cant think of something that bores me more than that.

E Port's picture

A photographer telling another photographer that photos bore them?? Haha! good one man.

Sadly (at least in Seattle) most buyers are much older or investors. You're right that us youngins will eventually become old and things will change. RE is ultimately a cash grab for us arch photogs. This is why I wouldn't recommend an expensive proprietary system ATM. Have fun with it if you think it's the right path though!

Ty Poland's picture

I mean the slideshow, there is nothing cool or special about that. The photos can be amazing, but I would want to scroll through them myself.

I just started using it and honestly, it sucks haha. It takes so much time to scan an entire house, has trouble in certain areas and you are stuck at the house with an agent whining about how long it's taking, meanwhile you cant do anything to make it faster. I see it as an extra option for homes that have potential buyers over seas that may not be able to make it out. Who knows though, it may become a standard one day.

I would much rather take photos considering I can light the room how I want it, and get the photo that will show the space in the best way possible. If I can I'd actually like to steer more towards architectural photography and enjoy the jobs I do.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Who's Mike Kelley exactly?

Ty Poland's picture

I have no idea

I think they are a gang = Kelley+Hurley+RGG guys :)

Usman Dawood's picture

Would this prevent real estate agents from giving a proper sales pitch to prospective buyers? If a customer can view the house online, could that work against an agents interests?

Ty Poland's picture

I'm not sure if it would or not. Some people are picky, others aren't. I would like to see what I'd be looking at before going and if I never had the opportunity to see the home and this was my only option, I'm sure I'd accept it. However, I do think photos stand out a lot more and I enjoy taking photos more than using this Matterport.

Wow a company who will not let you host your own images even after you buy their product you are stuck on their outrageous hosting fees. It's A TRAP! Because since they are the only "Host" they can change fees anytime they want, if you don't like it, leave.

As a current home seeker, I don't need to spend more then a few seconds on a houses photos to know If I like it or not. I'm not going to walk around a virtual home, especially since their hosting requires so much bandwidth. I predict the company will fold soon.

Ty Poland's picture

I'm not so sure I agree.. I think more people will just accept this, especially the younger generation who will grow up with it. Sadly, it may be the future

your prediction have been wrong, Matterport is growing and they have improved the process, also added 360 view scans, and more comming in 2017... When comapred to other system their hosting is actualy very cheap.

A flat 2D photo will never be able to tell a story as having a 360view, and being able to "walk" around in a 360 model is priceless compared to a flat 2D photo experience, :-)

I have been a photographer for over 40 years. About 10 years I tried Real Estate as an added venture. I loved it and shot my own images and soon learned how to do panoramas. Once HD became more mainstream I quit real estate and went back full time to video production. But I also honed my technique in pano photography and was soon getting some good gigs. Around 2010 I hit a wall and potential clients did not want to pay what I felt my pano photography was worth. So that side of the business just folded. I have been keeping up with 360/VR - but getting to people to pay for your time & skill seems to be getting more difficult. I did look into Matterport - a sales person did contact me but they were very pushy and desperate to make a sale. I discussed the possibility of getting a "bulk rate". They did offer a "one time deal" but the more I looked into it the more I did not like it. You are "locked-in" to their system. The quality is not as good as a DSLR pano solution. I did like the automated camera but it is a data driven system and not a real photographic solution. Matterport is gaining some high profile clients - but for everyday real estate photography it is not something that would work for me.

Ty Poland's picture

The quality is nowhere near as good as a photo and thats kinda why I made the comparison. I also think a photo stands out and kinda has a mystery about it. You see the photo and then want to see that room in the photo which draws the buyer to the property. If the quality gets better, it would really be amazing to see where this goes. I cant see it getting stuck here for too long. It has been out for two years or so and is just starting to be noticed.

Eventually they will get really busy and have to fix all the software and keep up with it, if they can do that, there is a lot to come from this company no matter what their price point is.

I agree - I would like to have a Matterport just to play with....They offered my $600 off.
I loved 360 panos. I had done some work for Zeiss, several city convention sites, several apartment complexes, some home builders and hundreds of RV interiors. I was contacted by real estate agents all the time but they never wanted to pay my rate. Even million dollar listing agents were very cheap. I do see many agents now using Matterport. I just wish agents would learn to take proper photos instead of using their iPhones.

have been a few firmware upgrades and improvements, can now also be used for 360 view scans and 3D scans in the same scanned model. Picture quality have improved and can now zoom in as well.

Brian Lewis's picture

When I first read about it, I didn't sweat much. The price tag would keep a lot of photographers from bothering with it. Unfortunately, a lot of the real estate firms I typically work for have now purchased these cameras and it has lost me a bit of business.

Ty Poland's picture

I didnt even think that they could buy it and do it themselves haha. Usually realtors take the worst photos ever and put them up themselves not knowing the difference between bad and good. No matter how popular this gets, I still think photography needs to be around and this will have to be another option for serious buyers. It all depends on the home!

I don't think Matterport will be viable. Matterport might linger around but I don't see grand future for it. I'm Realtor in Orange County CA. I don't like the way it looks. I find it inelegant and clumsy. I would rather have photos tell a beautiful story. I see Matterport going the way of 3D TV.

This is the now and future, yes it takes time to scan a space / property but there is no other method or product that can give you a 3D dollhouse view, with the ability to get accurate measurements out of the scanned model.

1. No, you can't photoshop the model but then you get to "see" the property as in real life. Its easy to hide defects or enhance a photo and create unrealistic expectations and then when seen in real life its a huge disapointment.

2. You can get a much better feel and layout of a property with the 3D dollhouse view and walkthroug than with a few photos. It also saves you the travel time to go and view a property and wasted exspenses if the property is out of town.

3. Its easy to share the experience with your spouse / partner / friends online no matter where in the world they might be at that time.

4. The models are available in VR.

5. MS HoloLens and Google is not even close to the same experience as Matterport, and they dont have the 3D dollhouse view or the smooth transitions while "walking" around in the model. There is a difference in "jumping" between scan spots and "walking" from spot to spot.

6. DSLR camera with accesories will cost same or even more than a Matterport scanner and wont give you the same level of stiching or measurements as Matterport's models.

7. There have been a few firmware upgrades and improvements to the scan process and its possible to scan in thight sports as well as in areas with mirrors, and even outside. Should visit the Matterport website and have a look at some of the models to get an idea of what is possible.

Ty Poland's picture

They have made a lot of great improvements with the Matterport. I am glad to see that the Firmware updates actually upgrade the camera. I do have a bit more hope for this guy but I also think we are going to be waiting a little while for it to become the norm. Also the VR appears to be compatible with android only which is a huge killer for iPhone users.

Is there any compatibility with this camera and Google's 360 tours (basically single shot 360 images)?

As a business consideration, this camera would be a lot more valuable to the end user if you could do a shoot of an entire business (store/restaurant) to provide the business with a 3D tour, and at the same time submit single 360 images to Google for inclusion in their listing results (where they allow submission from a "Trusted Pro".

https://www.google.com/streetview/hire/

I submitted an email to Matterport but haven't heard back yet.

Based on my reviews, but not having used it:

(1) the tour is impressive, but a little nausea-inducing in full screen

(2) I don't see how real estate agents incorporate it into their marketing flow (it doesn't work on MLS?)

(3) the greater value, commercially, would be to be able to submit this and integrate the shoot into Google, as there seems to be more interest from my commercial clients in all things Google.

Question: How long does it take to shoot a house? 60 mins per 1k ft2?

How are people pricing this?

I'm interested, but it is clearly a side business to real architectural and commercial photography, and I'm not sure it offers commercial clients much ROI if Google isn't part of the picture.

I am interested in this, but unless you can sell individual 360 scans to use on Google, it's a tree falling in the woods for most of my commercial clients (hotels, restaurants and shops in a tourist town).

The positives are what they are, no arguing that.

However, the major cons I see:

(1) Google 360 images in those spaces are an immediate opportunity for those businesses to close an impulse-oriented sale (or trigger an immediate visit).

(2) It's outside of normal MLS searching, so the views are limited and two or three degrees removed from buyer view (you have to contact the listing agent and get a link to their site and that property to tour it, yes?)

(3) for other commercial endeavors, in every case, shoppers don't find these tours until they're several clicks deep, and/or a text and email away from actually seeing the tour.

(4) I have to pay for site storage indefinitely for all my clients, or they lose the tour. What's my exposure if Matterport fails? I have no idea the liquidity or general business health of the company, and I'm asking my clients to make a big bet on a startup? I may as well be buying $50k in stock in Matterhorn.

(5) I have to explain to my clients that if Matterhorn goes out of business, the $3k they just spent on the tour is up in smoke, gone forever.

If the individual scans could be sold for Google use, this would be a no-brainer, but if it's entirely limited to hosting on the (too expensive) matterport host site, it's both pricey and risky.

Hey bud if you want your color balance always shifting during each picture and having some odd colors added into the room by all means good luck, I want a finished good looking product something that looks Amazing!