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Should I Invest in Providing Matterport Tours as a Product?

August 9th, 2017

Bill in South Carolina says:

I own an aerial videography company and have done several virtual home tours using an Osmo with my DJI X5 camera for interiors. I recently started researching the Matterport camera system for actual 3D virtual tours, but it just seems too good to be true and I don’t want to invest money into something that may not perform like it is advertised.

Do you have any experience with this camera system, and what is your opinion of it?

The Matterport camera system has been in use for many years and has been growing in popularity. It certainly performs as advertised. Many real estate photographers provide Matterport tours as a service.

We have had many discussions about it here on the blog in the past. Here is the most recent post. As you can see from the comments on past posts there are a variety of opinions about whether or not to provide it as a product.

Because the gear is very expensive, it takes a fair amount of time to create tours and you have to pay to host tours. The key decision everyone has to make is will your local market support this kind of service? Do your research carefully to make sure there is demand in your market to make this a profitable service.

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20 Responses to “Should I Invest in Providing Matterport Tours as a Product?”

  • It’s a money maker till the market is saturated. Go to eBay and they are always for sale. I waffle but can shoot 2 homes including travel in the time it takes to scan one. I do 3d 360 tours that aren’t matterport and have only lost one Job and of course there could be more because I don’t advertise it.

  • I have been approached several times by reps from Matterport to get on board and provide the service. After looking at it and what it would take to process a standard 3,000 sq ft home, I just felt that while the system has a lot to offer, it would just take to much time to do and make a decent profit. So, I did talk to my clients that were interested and what we could do so that they could offer it to their listing clients. One highly successful RE group decided to purchase the system from Matterport directly and have their agents/assistants shoot the homes themselves. We figured since that they needed to be there anyway while I shoot the homes, that this would a way to maximize the value of their time spent there. So far, things have worked out well for them… Although, they have to clear out while I shoot, it is a straight forward job where they average 1.5 hours for a 3,000 sq ft home.

    I would probably jump on board except for one very big concern and that is that the system is proprietary and if this company goes belly up……ALL MY HOSTED WORK GOES UP WITH IT…….

  • BTW Anyone remember Circle Pix? And when they went Belly Up? I do and got burned for a lot of “credits” you needed to buy for posting VT tours….

  • Think about referring your client to a vendor who does MP full time? Matterport has a “find a photographer” on the webpage.
    I have heard of pricing around $400 – $500 for a 3,000sf home. Don’t know what the workload is.
    Also a product called iGuide is making the rounds, similar pricing to Matterport from what I hear its more of a floor plan / virtual tour (looks like a google earth 360 type of gig.)

  • I purchased a Matterport system about a year ago to add to my capabilities (not to supplement my photography income.) So far it has paid for itself, however, it works best as an add-on to your standard photos and offerings.

    Pros:
    Simple – ANYONE can do this. Buy one and contract it out with an operator
    Fantastic End Result – the interface and end product for clients and viewers is great, better than any other 3D or tour system I’ve looked at
    Ubiquitous – tours are automatically picked up by Realtor.com if the address is confirmed. Branded and MLS compatible tour versions mean it can go anywhere.
    Not limited to just real estate. Matterport to Street View is in the pipeline
    Able to export 360 degree panoramic files and drop right into Google or Facebook
    VR headset capable viewing

    Cons:
    Expensive. I bought my system when they were still $4500. They require an iPad.
    Time Consuming – I’ve gotten to a point where I can scan a single point and move every 40 to 50 seconds. An average home requires 50 to 150 scans depending on whether the home is congested or there are stairs
    Interior Only – with some very specific circumstances, it can scan outdoors, but don’t bank on it
    Closed / Proprietary system – useless if matterport folds, or changes their pricing
    Monthly subscription for hosting (at least $50 a month)
    Per listing charge to “process” scan ($19 for up to 100 scan points, $38 for over 200 scan points)
    No self-hosting option
    Matterport branding on everything
    Matterport tries to sell a camera to EVERYONE, including your clients if they get the chance. Market saturation happens quickly and because everyone basically provides the exact same product, many begin competing on price instead of value added options

  • Matterport is trying to take over our business. They will say no, but they now offer HDR photos with their new camera. Like Jason said it’s a race to the bottom when everyone has it. Their product is sub par and most agents only use it to get the next listing. Every agent I asked that has used it doesn’t like paying for it and said it did not add more value than pictures and video. What if Canon made you send your raw files to them so they can process the images and then sell them back to you for a fee? Matterport has an awful business model and I hope they do fold.

  • You notice how if you watch a movie today, sure the technology has advanced, but by and large the movies are the same as they were since the first movies were introduced. Just simply frames being reeled off. We get novelties like 3D movies, but they never truly catch-on on a mass scale. The reason is because people just want to see a damn movie. Whatever the reason for that, it’s obviously the case.

    The same is true of photographs. We can input all the technology we want in there, but what viewers will always want to see is a plain old, well done, old fashioned photograph. No need to explain it or figure it out, that’s just the way it is. There’s a point in there about matterport somewhere if you read closely enough 🙂

  • @Bill Jones,

    What do you use to create your 3d 360 tours?

  • If any of you have recently been shopping (not browsing) for a home you will appreciate how valuable this product is to consumers. HQ photography and video allows professional marketers (us) to show a home in its very best light. Often to the point that shoppers are let down by the real thing. Matterport immerses the consumer in the reality of the home and reveals the good bad and ugly. In my experience products that satisfy a real need of the consumer tend to stick. I think Matterport will continue to grow and eventually be as common as professional photography.

  • I’ve used Matterport a few times for clients, a colleague of mine has one and he’s loaned it to me for requests about a year ago. Since then, I removed the service from my price sheet.

    It takes a good amount of time to cover a standard to large size home. In that same amount of time, I can cruise through a house with a camera/gimbal setup, and then re-trace my steps with a tri-pod/slider to add more dynamic shots. I can typically create an HD true video tour in the same amount of time I can utilize the Matterport camera. HD video sells for more and agents typically like it more because you can add some cinematic value to the listing.

    Also, the quality of Matterport will not be as high as your photos and HD video, so it sort of throws an imbalance to the representation of the listing.

    Lastly, I’ve had agents tell me they aren’t thrilled with the product, because it gives people and opportunity to see a home without visiting the open house tours. Usually, they want high traffic at open houses because it’s more opportunities to earn more listings.

    Just my two cents. There’s definitely a place for it in the industry, just not in my portfolio for the time being.

    PS – my colleague now has since hired a sub-contractor that he delegates all of his Matterport requests to, and they split the profit. That could be a good route, since you can hire a non-photographer to do the work and not worry about losing business to someone else.

  • Peggy, I use a Canon 5d mk II with a sigma 8mm lens, six shots. I then stitch with pt gui and use krpano for the tour itself.

  • 3 things buyers infrequently view online:

    1. Slideshows with music
    2. 360 Tours (old versions)
    3. Virtual Tours (latest proprietary formats)

    3 things buyers frequently view online:

    1. Prices
    2. Photos
    2. Descriptions

    Homebuyers don’t have time to be bothered with watching slideshows with music. So, who’s wasting hours weeding through and navigating virtual tours when they have hundreds of homes to view? Likely those with accepted offers who want to tour their future home in anticipation of the move. Prior to that, photos are king, followed by video.

    Matterport a marketing tool. You’re mileage will vary based upon how successfully you can leverage that to command more clients.

  • Larry,

    Thank you for such an awesome resource. I look forward to every post.

    About Bill’s question, this may be a crawl, before you walk before you run opportunity.

    Bill, before you buy a Matterport Pro2 3D Camera, you might do the following research:

    1. Engage a Matterport Service Provider to create a Matterport Space 3D Tour for one of your Clients. Ask to watch the workflow during the scanning process – and the post production. Then, offer the Matterport Space either free to your client or at your cost. You will see what kind of interest your client has; learn how to scan (and if you want to either offer Matterport by partnering with a Matterport Pro – or buying the Camera and gear to add to your tool box.

    We made is super-easy and super-fast to locate a Matterport. From their public profile, you can see if the Pro offers competing services: many just offer Matterport.
    http://forum.we-get-around.com/find-a-matterport-spaces-3d-tour-pro-photographer/

    2. If you decide to buy a Matterport Camera, this calculator will help you quickly estimate your cost. You likely already have much of the gear and accessories:
    https://www.we-get-around.com/buy-matterport-camera-gear-and-accessories/

    3. If you want to see “how much” you can make offering Matterport, this calculator may be helpful …
    https://www.we-get-around.com/referral-network-mission-for-matterport-service-providers/

    4. Matterport is a great optional-extra to offer clients (whether you partner with a local Pro or decide to jump into the deep end and buy a Matterport Camera (and related gear). The pitch to your clients is all about winning more and bigger premium listings more often. Here’s a calculator that can help show an agent/broker how much more money they can make using Matterport Spaces 3D Tours to differentiate their business …
    http://forum.we-get-around.com/find-a-matterport-spaces-3d-tour-pro-photographer/

    5. Today (10 August 2017), there are at least 69 3D-VR-360º-Street View Cameras. Here’s a list …
    https://www.we-get-around.com/buy-360-3d-vr-photo-video-1-click-camera/

    6. Of these 3D-VR-360º-Street View camera solutions, today, these are likely the top five to consider: Matterport, iGuide (Planitar), Realvision (formerly Toursler) and Inside Maps. These five a deeply compared in this 38-page guide …
    http://bit.ly/WGANGUIDE

    7. If you do decide to buy a used Matterport Camera on eBay, there are two models with various generations. The first Camera is the Matterport Pro 3D Camera. I believe if the serial number begins with F or G, that’s the latest version. The most recent Camera is the Matterport Pro2 3D Camera. It’s likely a good idea to ask for a photo of the serial number and email it to Matterport to make sure that you can get your own Matterport Cloud account established with the Camera you intend to buy.

    Worth noting, Matterport has receive $61 million in funding and trusted colleagues have shared with me that they estimate that Matterport does $20 million in annual revenue.
    https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/matterport#/entity

    Larry, thank you again for your service to the real estate photography community. I have bought your two eBooks and always recommend them to anyone considering either a career in real estate photography or seeking best practices.

    Best,

    Dan Smigrod

    Disclosure: I have been Matterport Service Provider since July 2014. I am the founder of a Community of 10,000+ 3D-VR-360º-Street View Pros – many either have a Matterport Camera or are researching which 3D-VR-360º-Street View Camera to buy.

  • Each to his / her own. We now have 6 Matterports. We keep them busy. The new Pro 2s offer many great new capabilities, including the upgrade to 4k. They pay for themselves. We offer them in conjunction with video, drones, and of course stills. We package everything and it does very, very well for us. We have done almost 500 property scans in the last 11 months, both residential and commercial. “Offer it and they will come”.

  • I’d like to see your break down of CODB Roger to how much profit you walk away with offering Matterport shoots for $125. By the time you factor in the cost of equipment, labor, hosting fees, etc., I just don’t see a lot of meat on those 500 bones…..

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for Matterport. But if you are giving it away, then why do it at all?

  • Jerry, understand your concern but we do not give it away, what the aim is to maximize each property, sell eveything and add ons. We do not have a $125 price, the lowest price is $150, and it escalates by square footage. At the same time we provide drones, etc. The largest cost is non productive time, which in many cases is driving. We have a team, each member doing their part. So the question is how productive can you be. We have shot as many as 17 properties in one day, obviously not all with Matterport. We sat down and penciled out expenses and what income we were shooting for per day and what the outlay was (CODB). With that being said, with the income per day we have done fantastic. People worry too much about one job, not making enough money, but if you are only doing one job then it would be of great concern, but today we did 13, 3 had Matterports, several had drones. Tomorrow is much the same. We photograph (drone, Matterport and/or video) about 200 to 250 properties per month. We are traveling the Southeast with various contracts, both on residential and commercial properties. We do not give anything away, everything has a reason and purpose in achieving a goal. If you would like to call and talk please feel free to, our number is under contact us on our website. Appreciate any and all comments. Read these posts daily and have learned a great deal from many other photgraphers.

  • Roger, I was just pulling your prices off your website, maybe it is out of date (I know mine is).
    Less than 2,000 SF $125

    • 2,000 to 2,999 SF $150

    • 3,000 to 3,999 SF $175

    • 4,000 to 5,999 SF $200

    • 6,000 to 7,999 SF $250

    • 8,000 to 9,999 SF $300

    • 10,000 + SF $325

    Don’t get me wrong, if your happy with your business plan, than go for it. I just believe that everything I offer in my business should be a profit maker and far to often, I see other photogs short selling themselves. If I see one service as taking to much time for the profit generated, that I can make three times the profit by focusing on that area, then it is just good business to move in that direction. While your team (not sure how many) did 13 shoots today, I am shooting between 15 and 25 per week. I could not do that kind of volume, spending 1.5 to 3 hours offering the Matterport system and generate the net income that I enjoy.

    I would be open to a subcontractor doing the Matterport in order to offer my clients the option, but even then I would have to share in the profit of that relationship.

  • Ther prices are not correct, they are a little more. My team, right now, consist of subs who are on a 1/2 day or full day pay and my wife. We calculate everything on being profitable, ever so often a little less many times more, but just like any contactor doing work, things happen to cause a profitability to increase or decline. We keep a tight handle on it and it works for us.

  • @Jeff Griggs: “If any of you have recently been shopping (not browsing) for a home you will appreciate how valuable this product is to consumers.”

    This point is an issue I have in general with these. It’s valuable in the sense that it saves consumers a trip from actually visiting a house in person, but doesn’t always translate well to the flow and layout (not floorplan, but “feel’) of a property that can be experienced in person (which is where a walkthrough video or well-done photography excels). The corollary is that, while good for consumers, can be a negative for agents, since they might not get as much foot traffic; people in general are not great at visualization, even with 3d type of imagery. I’d be interested to hear whether the clicks-to-visits-to-offers ratios are better or worse with these than with video or photography only, but I doubt whether most agents are looking at these types of stats, only being able to “sell” future clients with this as part of their marketing.

    @Darren: “I’ve had agents tell me they aren’t thrilled with the product, because it gives people and opportunity to see a home without visiting the open house tours. Usually, they want high traffic at open houses because it’s more opportunities to earn more listings.”

    Exactly; the psychology of viewing and buying in person is so much stronger than with online viewing. The follow-up to this is that these tours provide an entire picture of the property without controlling what an agent might want to market through well-conceived photos/videos. A potential buyer may pass over a listing because he/she can’t see past faults in these tours, whereas in person, a buyer may love aspects that may win over any downsides. A buyer who doesn’t show up in person has already made that decision.

  • I’ve been in the “the business” for about seven years now and for the life of me do NOT understand the attractiveness of Matterport. To me, the negatives of initial cost, periodic fees, and lack of direct control of the output servers, along with other factors have dissuaded me from even a temptation to climb onboard.

    To be fair, I am in a smaller market where it would take many moths to regain the investment. Matterport output is indeed fantastic but I am guessing that most agents (well, selling anything but high-end homes) would not want to use this technology because of the simple math of cost vs benefits. Agents rightly feel that the benefits of imaging must culminate in a showing, followed by a contract offer and a successful sale (and $$ commission). Great photos and engaging videos are essential to do this, of course, but many agents feel (1) most prospective buyers (of typical properties) are simply not going to take the time to go through an interactive 3D presentation, especially after they’ve seen a couple dozen good images and video clips, and (2) as I think @Dave C has pointed out above, providing too much visual information may be overkill. That is, where is the incentive to make an appointment with the agent for a first-hand look after you have seen virtually everything?

    In a nutshell, I feel the presentation should attract and engage and intrigue the buyer, but not necessarily show virtually every detail of a home. And it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes time. Again, my area may be vastly different from others. I sincerely wish Matterport and their subscribers a bright future, but I do not see a strong connection with the agents’ or photographers’ bottom line for anything except high end properties….and I LOVE technology.

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