Views, Virtuality . . . Vision
Once upon a time, the fact that an actual visit to a location was either impractical or impossible would mean lost opportunities. That need not be the case in this age of technology. The days of virtual reality are here and a man in our midst is taking full advantage of the possibilities it offers when it comes to real estate.
Longtime Golden Isles real estate photographer Harlan Hambright explains that while “virtual tours” have been used by real estate agents, brokers, and sellers for years, they have been nothing more than “fancy slide shows with a few effects like panning and zooming thrown in.” He continues, “They cannot convey the experience of moving through a space and don’t do a very good job of conveying how different spaces relate to one another.” Using the Matterport platform, Harlan is now capable of providing clients with a 3D tour that creates “about as close to the experience of actually visiting property as can be done right now.”
Harlan says his discovery of the newly released Matterport platform came about when his biggest real estate client asked if he could do virtual tours. They were using someone else out of the area to provide that service and the tours had bad background music. Harlan says he told them he didn’t like most virtual tours, but he’d see what was out there. It was then that he found Matterport’s 3D technology. “It offered what I had imagined doing for several years, but even more effectively.” Not only was the viewing experience significantly better than the traditional virtual tours, it has the added benefit of being quite adaptable and convenient. Harlan explains, “An agent can download their listings to their mobile phone or iPad and will be ready to show a house anywhere, anytime. Bump into someone at Tramici who says they’re looking for a house, and you pull out your phone and say, ‘Here’s one,’ and walk them through it right there. The tours have also recently been upgraded to VR technology.”
Linton “Bubba” West, an Associate Broker at Sea Island Properties, calls the 3D tour “a game changer.” Before he was using Harlan’s 3D tours, Bubba would have to drive around with clients to see 15 sites or so. Now, he says it’s more like 3-5, because they are able to narrow down choices by putting the tours up on a big screen and doing these virtual walk throughs with clients right in the office without the need to travel to the property. What really sold the 3D tours for Bubba was his own personal experience with it. When Bubba was selling his house in Sea Palms, Harlan offered to do a 3D tour for him at a reduced rate to show him how well it works and promote its use in Bubba’s real estate practice with Sea Island. When the property was listed accompanied by Harlan’s 3D tour, Bubba had 2 full-price offers by the next afternoon – neither of whom had stepped foot in the house. He was amazed. Of those two potential buyers, one came out to measure for a specific piece of furniture and the other never visited the property until after closing. Bubba said not only was the process simple, it also meant the house only needed to be cleaned once for the filming of the tour, and not continuously for buyer walk-throughs, which can sometimes be inconvenient and disruptive for sellers. With this type of result, Bubba was sold! He knew then how valuable the 3D tour would be as a sales tool and time-saver for him and other agents and brokers in the real estate and vacation rental market. That’s a pretty impressive endorsement!
The potential of the 3D technology is not limited to real estate sales/rental situations. The possibilities for application are endless! Harlan says, “I got an emergency 3D tour on a Sunday last year. A Sea Island home had been broken into and the out-of-town owners wanted to know what had gone missing. I rushed over, did a scan of the entire house and that evening they were able to walk through their house assessing their losses.” He adds, “It has great potential as an aid in teaching or experiencing architecture, training, scanning environmentally sensitive or dangerous landmarks so that people could experience a place without fear of damaging it or themselves, fundraising – I scanned the press room for Ashantilly and they can promote their restoration work and needs with it. Any application where someone needs to experience a 3D space. I also scanned the old Brunswick Mall for an out-of-town architect. He was able to extract dimensions from my model for renovation plans.” Are you afraid of heights or maybe can’t climb stairs due to a physical disability? No worries, you can still visit the top of the St. Simons Lighthouse now, thanks to a 3D Tour created by Harlan. An added benefit? Everyone can now access the off-limits lens room virtually.
The cutaway dollhouse views of the buildings Harlan scans are fascinating to look at too. Now you can see and understand spatial relationships much more clearly. To get the full 3D tour experience, visit harlanhambright.com. Climb the lighthouse, just for fun – it’s definitely worth the view!