Virtual Reality: Please Step Inside

Like all industries, real estate is being constantly reshaped by technology. We’ve been following the progress of virtual reality for a while, and had an opportunity to take a first hand look at the current state of the art.

A company called Matterport developed a specialized camera that takes 360 degree photos, and then uses the resulting images to present the home in different ways. Below is an example of their presentation for 88 Terry Road in Hartford’s West End.

The Viewing Options

One presentation is the “dollhouse” view, which presents the entire building with the exterior walls missing. You are able to spin the house to look into the different rooms. This presentation gives a sense of the floor plan, and how the different rooms relate to each other in space.

Another presentation is the “floor plan” view, which is basically the same as the “dollhouse” except you are looking straight down from above. You can select which level of the home to view, and see the different spaces with their furnishings in place.

Next, Matterport lets you “explore 3D space.” This view positions you at the various camera locations and allows you to pan side to side, and up and down, to see in every direction from that spot. You can move from spot to spot, touring the entire home. The navigation and overall experience is similar to the online mapping sites’ street views, and works well on a phone.

Finally, the “virtual reality” presentation makes the 3D space immersive by allowing you use VR goggles to stand at the camera locations and look around as if you were physically standing in the building. This is the newest presentation format, and the one that I was most excited to try. I wanted to see what kind of experience the system offered.

Getting Started with Virtual Reality

Getting involved in virtual reality sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need cutting edge technology to tour a house, so I decided to start with the most basic experience.

I brought a Google Cardboard compatible viewer for $5 at my local electronics store, and paired it with a retired cell phone. It was easy to get the equipment up and running, and accessing the VR experience for the house was equally simple.

VR Viewer

As my first virtual reality experience, immersing myself in the home tour was easy and enjoyable. The software makes it obvious how to jump between camera locations, and the processing power on my old phone was more than enough to allow the images to move seamlessly as I turned my head from side to side.

I had fun exploring the house. My best experiences in traveling though the home were while sitting in my desk chair, which allowed me to easily spin 360 degrees without worrying about falling over or walking into anything.

Virtual Reality and Selling Homes

The question we’re hoping to answer with this test run is this: is virtual reality a good way to present a home so that it makes a favorable impression on potential buyers? It’s a cool experience, and it’s fun to try out, but how will buyers use it during their home search?

Most technologies are adopted very slowly in the real estate industry. The decision to use virtual reality, or any new technology, is made on an agent by agent basis. Every market is highly fragmented, with even the best agents only listing a small percentage of the properties.

Since marketing expenses like this are fronted by the listing agent and only covered if the house sells, agents can be reluctant to try new technologies that have a high cost and unknown value. For example, many agents still take their own listing photos rather than pay for a professional photographer. In the near term, buyers won’t be able to experience the majority of the homes they are interested in touring using virtual reality.

If our listings offer VR tours, will that be an advantage or a detriment? Only a small percentage of buyers are likely to choose to experience the home in VR. And, a virtual tour is highly unlikely to be sufficient to convince a buyer to submit an offer. But will buyers feel like the VR experience is enough to eliminate a property from consideration? My goal as a listing agent is to get buyers into the house, since that’s where the purchase decision is made.

Another way to think about the VR experience is as an alternative to an open house. A main benefit of open houses is that it gives buyers who have already seen the house in person an opportunity to explore it again and reflect on how they would use the space. Will buyers use the virtual reality tour to reinforce the positive impressions they had while touring a home in person?

We would love to get additional input on virtual reality as a technology for presenting houses. What do you think? Would you consider exploring a home in this manner? Does the technology and presentation make you think more favorably about the home? Please leave a comment, or send me a quick note at KyleB@KyleB-RE.com.

14 Rodney Street, Hartford’s West End

14 Rodney St, Hartford

If you’re looking for a fantastic multi-family in the West End, look no further. This two-family home has many updates and has been well cared for by its owner, making it the perfect purchase for an owner occupant or investor buyer.

The smaller of the two units encompasses the first floor. It boasts an enclosed porch, formal living room and dining room, fully applianced kitchen, two bedrooms, and a full bathroom. It has hardwood flooring, access to laundry in the basement, and its own gas furnace and hot water heater.

The larger unit is located on the second and third floors and is completely remodeled with many high end finishes. The main living level has a formal living room which leads to an enclosed sun porch. There is a formal dining room adjacent to a remodeled kitchen. The kitchen offers stainless steel appliances, tile flooring, plenty of cabinet space for storage and counter workspace area, and a small breakfast bar. There are also two bedrooms and a renovated full bathroom on the second floor.

Upstairs, the third floor is the master suite level. Fully renovated, it includes a dedicated office area with built-ins, large master bedroom with gas fireplace and built-ins, walk in closet, spa bathroom, and laundry area. The second unit has central air conditioning, along with a newer gas furnace and hot water heater.

Outside, there is a 2-car detached garage, fenced backyard and paver patio area.

A rare find in the West End!

14 Rodney Street is offered at $310,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call Amy at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

222 North Beacon Street, Hartford’s West End

222 North Beacon St, Hartford

The half-timbered front gable, accented with a decorative band and flanked by ornate masonry chimneys, allow this stately Tudor Revival home to effortlessly stand out on one of Hartford’s most prestigious blocks.

222 North Beacon Street includes a full width front porch with more than enough space to entertain. The foyer is a room unto itself, and includes a gas fireplace, grand staircase, built-in benches, and powder room. Extra tall windows bring a tremendous amount of light into the first floor living and dining rooms, both of which also feature gas fireplaces. French doors lead from the living room into a large den. The fully updated kitchen features custom cabinetry, stainless appliances, stone counters, eat-in space, and two pantries.

Upstairs, the second floor landing could be used as a casual seating area away from the formal entertaining spaces downstairs. The master bedroom suite includes a wood burning fireplace, full bathroom, and double closets. A second bedroom suite also includes a full bathroom, while two additional bedrooms complete the level. The third floor has additional bedrooms with built-ins and another full bathroom.

The property has a gas heating system and is cooled by strategically placed ductless air conditioning units. Outside, there is a patio off the kitchen, a fenced yard, and a two car garage. The home is steps away from historic Elizabeth Park.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to live in an architectural gem!

222 North Beacon Street is offered at $525,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call Amy at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

101 Kenyon St, Hartford’s West End

101 Kenyon St, Hartford

This West End Victorian has charming original details and nice entertaining spaces. It offers 4 bedrooms and 2.1 baths over 2,861 square feet.

An enclosed front porch welcomes you into an open foyer with parquet floors and turned staircase. The oversized living room has a wood burning fireplace and built-ins, and leads to a lovely sunroom. The formal dining room is a perfect space for entertaining and has original details with a bay window and stained glass sidelights. The open kitchen was remodeled and includes plenty of eat-in space. Off the kitchen is a mudroom, half bath and covered back porch.

On the second floor you’ll find a large master bedroom with double closets, three additional bedrooms, a full bath and an open seating area.

The third floor offers a large main room, one smaller room, and a full bathroom with bonus storage area. It is currently used as a family room space, but could easily serve as the master suite.

Outside there is a 2-car garage, bluestone patio and a nice backyard for gardening or just relaxing.

101 Kenyon Street is offered at $325,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call Kyle at 860-655-2922 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.

33 Charter Oak Place, Unit #3, Hartford

33 Charter Oak Place, Hartford

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to own a completely renovated condominium in a truly special, small community located on historic Charter Oak Place.

This two bedroom, one bathroom townhouse unit is fully renovated with a keen eye towards aesthetic details. Oak hardwood flooring runs throughout the sunny space with oversized windows and high ceilings. The entire unit has been freshly painted. The formal living room features a working wood burning fireplace with original marble mantle. The galley kitchen has plenty of granite counterspace for meal preparations, stainless steel appliances and updated cabinetry. There is a convenient pass through to the formal dining room, making entertaining a breeze. A rear entrance room is perfect for a mudroom or additional sitting area.

A spiral staircase leads upstairs to the sleeping quarters. Skylights provide a bright and open feel. A large master bedroom features ample closet space. Another oversized bedroom is perfect for a guest room, office, or den. A fully remodeled bathroom with hallway linen closet completes the upper floor.

You’ll have your own dedicated garage with auto-door opener, a shared rear deck, secure storage space in the basement, shared laundry, and a lovely front porch and yard to enjoy. The unit features central air conditioning, gas heat, and a new gas hot water heater.

Steps to all that Downtown has to offer, yet located on a quiet residential street, in a one of a kind building. A special find!

33 Charter Oak Place, Unit #3 is offered at $250,000. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call Amy at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit. More details and a photo tour are available.