During HomePlan NZ’s journey towards creating a digital copy of the various residential, commercial and heritage properties in New Zealand – we’ve heard every reason why 3D virtual tours/walkthroughs don’t and can’t work.  As there’s a lot of misinformation out there, I thought today I’d tackle and debunk the Top 5 reasons we hear about some people have previously chosen NOT to get a 3D Virtual Walkthrough. 

1. It's too expensive.

Getting a 3D virtual tour can cost as little as $200 all the way up to $20,000 for large and complex commercial environments.  The main driver behind this cost is the time it takes for a human to capture and produce a quality virtual tour.

You can capture photos for free, and the quality off mobile devices is getting better all the time.  But a photo creates a single, partial perspective of a property; hence why you then take multiple photos, sometimes multiple photos of every wall in every room.  Then you need to relay how these individual photos relate to each other…so now you need a floor plan.  The money you pay for a 3D walkthrough solves all of these problems in a seamless way, and yes – there is a cost to doing it.

Our perception of cost is always based on the perceived benefit, and given some of the other reasons below, it’s very common to miss some of these benefits.  How much would you spend on a 3D walkthrough if it avoided a disagreement with your insurer following a fire or earthquake?  Or with a tenant of your rental property?  Or if it resulted in you getting an extra $20,000 from a house buyer who couldn’t get to the open home?  Or if it resulted in more business, for your business?

The punchline here is – the cost of creating a 3D walkthroughs can be tuned based on the benefits you derive.  Yes, in some cases the cost is not justified, but for those we have had this discussion with, we typically end up uncovering benefits they hadn’t considered.

2. It’s just a real estate marketing tool.

This is a big one.  When 3D Virtual Tours arrived they took off in the real estate industry, as they do a brilliant job of presenting a property for sale.  But the whole reason HomePlan NZ came into existence is due to the many other valuable applications of 3D photographic technology.

Let’s start with home/property ownership.  Owning property means you have invested your blood, sweat, tears and yes…a considerable amount of your money into that asset.  In today’s market, that asset is likely to have cost you from $450,000 all the way into the millions of dollars.  Now – put yourself in the shoes of a Christchurch earthquake red-zone homeowner, of a South Australian homeowner faced with damage or total loss from last week’s massive fires, of an investor who rented their property in Dunedin to a bunch of students who…had a good time.

A 3D walkthrough, if done right, creates a high-resolution digital copy of EVERYTHING.  It’s a detailed, absolute and irrefutable record that can be referred back to, should the worse happen.  And often it’s the little things that count – like your choice to spend $200 on upgrading to quality door handles, which following a total loss claim the insurer wants to replaces with $50 ones.  Do you have sufficient records to plead your case?

I could go on about all the other applications – marketing businesses and venues as we did in our 3D Dining on Jackson project, assisting with design and construction like the Old St Paul’s strengthening project, or just capturing a restored building of cultural significance such as St Barnabas Church in Fendalton.

3D walkthroughs have evolved are here to stay, and can help New Zealanders in so many ways including (but so much more than just) selling your property.

3. They are clunky and hard to use.

This one initially surprised me.  We primarily use the Matterport platform which in our opinion provides a simple, intuitive, enjoyable and seamless journey through any property.  So why do some people think virtual tours are clunky?

One reason is choice of platform.  Some, such as that used for Google Street View, work brilliantly in large/open environments but becomes very hard to navigate within a property (sorry Google!).  There are a multitude of DIY virtual tour tools which very basically stitch together 360 photos taken on a mobile device.  This produces a low quality walkthrough, and generally faces the user with a ‘black out’ moment as they move from one 360 position to the next.

Another reason is the passage of time.  The 3D virtual walkthrough technology of five years ago, which is when many people looked at adopting them, was extremely clunky and cumbersome compared to today’s technology.  With improvements in photo resolution (134MP!), how we download and access data, and what mobile and desktop devices are capable of processing and presenting – I highly recommend that you look at a recent 3D walkthrough and reassess!

But the biggest reason is actually how well the 3D walkthrough has been designed by the 3D Technician.  It’s paramount that this person understands what the 3D walkthrough is going to be used for, then captures the property in the way that best achieves it.  This includes considering the best walk path, the positions that give the optimal viewing angles, and how a user can navigate through these points.  It includes the extras – such as explaining in a text tag at the start of the walkthrough the basic controls for a newbie, or providing an automated tour that a user can just click ‘play’ and watch, or inserting additional 2D image and video content.

I can say with a clear conscience – in EVERY case where I have been told 3D virtual tours are clunky and I then proceed to show them a HomePlan 3D walkthrough, I have changed their mind!

4. You need specialist software.

Absolutely not.  This again comes from the evolution of this technology over time, and from the use of 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software by architects and engineers to digitally show a building before it has been built.

HomePlan 3D walkthroughs work on any modern device or PC, do not require any specialist software or plug-in, and do not even need to be downloaded/installed to run.  They are a very simple URL link that can be opened within a standard internet browser, and are light enough that you can use them without killing your phone’s data plan.

3D walkthroughs can even be viewed using Virtual Reality headsets using your phone as the screen.  It’s as simple as loading the URL link then plugging your phone into the VR headset, and voila – you are deep in an immersive 3D experience within seconds.

5. They show too much!

I love this final one!  Initially it was unexpected – isn’t it a case of the more it can show, the better it is?  The answer is – it depends on what you are trying to do.

Given the high resolution imagery and complete coverage that a HomePlan 3D walkthrough provides, it will generally show…everything.  And sometimes you don’t want to showcase everything – for example, a letter on a desk with personal details on it, the rubbish piled in the garage you were about to take to the tip, the pile of washing you (thought you) stashed out of site.

The solution is simple – ensure your 3D walkthrough is designed to show what YOU want need it to show.  Don’t let a photographer, salesperson or technician tell you what they are going to do – tell them what you need it to do, and not do.

When we produce a HomePlan 3D walkthrough we first turn all letters/mail face down, sometimes hide washing in the cupboards, and from time to time even to shuffle some furniture so it’s never visible to the camera and therefore excluded from the 3D walkthrough.

Another interesting spin from the real estate industry is it allows a prospective buyer to see all the flaws in the house, and decide it’s not for them before they form an emotional attachment to the property.  I have mixed feelings about this view – it’s kind of like showing photos of a car for sale and excluding the photo that shows the big dent in the boot, in the hope they will buy it anyway!

I do accept that being there in person an experiencing the vibe first hand is better than a virtual visit that just shows the optics.  However this is not always possible, practical or efficient, especially when the person who needs to visit isn’t local.

Also keep in mind:  Don’t want them to be able to see every angle?  Great, just provide a minimum number of positions they can access in the 3D walkthrough.  Don’t want them to zoom in on those little cracks in the wall?  No problem, zoom can be disabled.  Think a 3D Dollhouse View will confuse them?  Easy, we can disable that.  In fact, most things that can distract or dissuade a user can be adjusted, modified or removed by an expert HomePlan Technician.

So, that’s it – the top 5 reasons NOT to get a 3D Virtual Walkthrough.  Did I dispel any misconceptions for you?  Feel free to contact me via our web site if you’d like more information on getting a HomePlan 3D Virtual Walkthrough for your property.