New dimensions in real estate
written by Mitch Wiewel
The next time you are in the market for a new home, you may find yourself wearing a virtual reality headset in your real estate agent’s office. Gone are the days of scanning flyers and photos while trying to narrow down your home search—the Matterport sophisticated camera automatically captures 3-D data and stitches it together with 2-D photography to create a uniquely immersive experience, changing the way real estate agents and entrepreneurs buy and rent property.
Phil Gorski, a Matterport Service Provider (MSP), has always been a technology geek. He conceived the idea to start his own 3-D photography Vancouver-based business, Ova-Nee Productions, while waiting for a liver transplant. After being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune liver disease, Gorski reevaluated his career in the tech industry at IBM.
“While I was sick and waiting, and waiting … being optimistic, I decided that if I do get healthy again, I’m going to do my best not to go back to work at IBM,” he said. “Nothing wrong with IBM, it was a tremendous blessing. I just looked at my career and thought, ‘How did I get here? And am I happy?’ I’m not passionate about what I do.”
While Gorski waited for his transplant, he read an article about a new technology, Matterport, and how it promised to change the real estate market with its 3-D virtual tours. Four-and-a-half years later, Gorski has a new liver and is an entrepreneur with Matterport. One look at an example of the 3-D virtual tour technology and his jaw dropped, as his clients’ tend to do.
“I could see how this would have a huge impact on the real estate market,” Gorski said. “It is really cool, as opposed to just photo slideshows and basic walk-throughs. It’s like you were there. It’s really hard to make a home purchase decision from afar, scanning real estate listings and photos and booking flights.”
Gorski found his niche with Ova-Nee Productions by pounding the pavement and visiting real estate agents and business owners to show them what this new technology can do. Gorski isn’t sticking to housing, thanks to the abundance of Northwest breweries, resorts and other creative outlets that can benefit from the virtual tour technology.
Industry giants like realtor.com and the new Portland-based Vacasa have caught on to the Matterport camera’s potential. The website, realtor.com, is supporting the 3-D immersive Matterport tours, offering preference to listings with a Matterport tour link. A vacation rental listing with Vacasa automatically receives a Matterport virtual tour included in its fees. Vacasa has found that virtual tours have positively impacted its vacation rental owner business.
When owners see a virtual tour offered by Ova-Nee, backed by the power of the Matterport camera’s technology, they realize they are missing out by relying on simple 360-degree photos, or “sit and spins,” as Gorski calls them.
One of Gorski’s clients is a real estate agent who uses the virtual headsets rather than relying on computer screens to display the immersive virtual tours. Gorski brought in a headset and explained, “You don’t need the Oculus Rift. You can use Google Cardboard, save money and find a headset for $11 on Amazon.” The agent purchased multiple headsets to share the experience with every client.
The next big thing for the Matterport virtual tour technology is a partnership with once-rival Google Street View. This past summer Google began supporting the virtual reality technology and offering the power of analytics behind it—publish a virtual reality space into Google Street View and find out exactly how effective it is.
Gorski feels good about giving people more visibility in a saturated online market. “I help tell their story and draw people in, and give an immersive feeling of what it’s like.” Gorski’s virtual tours have cured the online and out-of-state gamble, anxiety and sometimes buyer’s remorse of the real estate market.