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Are Matterport 3D Tours A Money Making Product For Real Estate Photographers?

Published: 28/01/2016
Kelvin in Big Sky Country recently asked the following:

Searching your site regarding Matterport, I found some thoughts about it from 2014 that would sway me to believe that the value wasn't there as compared to the $4500 investment.  I'm curious to know if that has changed, or if anyone reports recouping that investment and moving on to profitability?

My sense from reader comments is that yes, in the upper-end of large real estate markets that Matterport 3D Tours are a money making product. I don't think they are a successful product anyeverywhere. I know that in the Portland, OR market real estate photographers are charging from $300 to $450 for Matterport 3D tours depending on the square footage of the home.

I've had real estate photographers in Portland, Phoenix, New York, Brisbane and Seattle tell me they started shooting Matterport 3D because their clients asked for it.

What are others experiences with Matterport 3D?

Update Jan 29, 2016: To summarize and give the poll some perspective. The first day (24 hours) this poll was up the site had almost exactly 4000 page views and of those 655 clicked on a link somewhere (twitter or the subscription e-mail) to specifically see this post and of those visitors 45 said they used Matterport and of those 45, 30 (66.6%) said Matterport was not paying for itself, 12 (26.67%) said Matterport was making money for them and 3 (6.66%) said Matterport had just paid for itself.


Larry Lohrman

21 comments on “Are Matterport 3D Tours A Money Making Product For Real Estate Photographers?”

  1. I just started offering Matterport last month and my bookings $ has doubled from just shooting stills. I expect to gain back the investment in a few months and then the rest is profit. I'm lucky to have some very forward thinking clients who committed to doing the 3D tours on most if not all their listings which made it easy for me to pull the trigger. These clients have been very happy with the end product and their clients (homeowners) are simply amazed. Word is spreading in my area and I won't be surprised if all my top clients are on board by the end of this year if not before.

    Matterport 3D Tours may or may not actually help sell the home (even though I think they do). The big excitement is actually using it as a tool to get more clients. If you're a realtor and you're sitting down with a potential client going thru your spiel of why they should pick you to be their agent, and then you bust out the tablet and show them the 3D Tour? That's a closer tool if I ever saw one and my clients will attest to that!

    I personally would not suggest someone buy a Matterport and then try to drum up business for it. Get a client(s) to see the vision and commit and then pull the trigger. You talk to and treat your clients as if you and they are a team anyway right? Right? =)

    P.S. I started offering a Combo package for photos + 3D tour and it's my most popular item so far this year!

  2. Larry,

    I imagine that 900 Members of the Matterport User Group Forum would disagree with you about, "I don’t think they are a successful product anywhere." I am surprised that you think that.

    Matterport 3D Showcase tours enable agents to win new listings by differentiating their marketing plan to have a competitive advantage.

    Just today (27 January 2016) – at a tech meets residential real estate conference, Inman Connect 2016 in New York City, I interviewed Perry Wellington Realty Owner Broker Adam Conrad in Central Pennsylvania. In this video interview, he describes how he wins more listings as a result of the Matterport 3D Tours and that he includes a 3D Tour with all his $500,000+ listings (and some below that)...

    While this Broker bought a Matterport Camera, many agents/brokers prefer to outsource Matterport 3D Showcase tours. So, that's the opportunity for PFRE readers: helping agents/brokers win new listings. If you have a trusted relationship with a client and you can help them with a new visual storytelling solution, why not offer it?

    PRRE readers are welcome to ask Matterport User Group Forum Members their questions or search the database of 11,000 thread posts among 1,200 topics.


    Dan Smigrod
    Matterport User Group Forum

  3. Hi,
    Im thinking of buying a Matterport camera, but my concerns are:
    1: How much can you charge agents for this concept.
    2: Agents won't pay for photos, let alone a Matterport shoot.
    3: Is this just a step up from the old 360 pano shoots which are now redundant.

    $4500 camera + $19 per shoot + $100 hosting per month + my time to shoot..........

    I would love to try this product out, and do think it could work, but is it just another gimmick with a 2 year life span.

  4. Hello Jason,

    Because your questions are frequently asked by real estate photographers, we created this FAQs thread post

    At the tech meets residential real estate conference yesterday, I recall that one speaker said that while there are 1.25 million Realtor, 80 percent of all listings come from less than 250,000 Realtors. Plus, my impression is that new technology is adopted by less than five percent of the potential audience.

    The challenge for any visual storytelling solution is to find the five percent that are tech savvy and and early adopters.

    Rather than buy the Camera and then decide if your clients have interest, I suggest asking your existing clients if they want you to offer this service. For agents that that want to use their smartphone to take photos, they are not prospects for any kind of new visual storytelling tool.


  5. Rarely do I get an inquiry, and it never progresses to pricing. I have looked at it in the past, more out of curiosity, like the potential client inquiries. Potential cost to me with the initial investment, considering alternatives, lack of demand, and changing market demands/focus, raise the possibility of a $4500 door stop that could otherwise be put to other uses. As I reviewed samples, it is a tour on steroids requiring user input to navigate, but in the end, it is a tour. At the premium price charged, I see direct competition being full, true cinematic video (not slide show as mp4 file). True video gives even greater distribution opportunities and potential SEO. Perhaps it is better to offer video for the $500k and above home and the standard tour for the lower priced homes. The Realtor would have the same listing presentation benefit, and may be preferred where both are offered by Realtors competing for the listing.

    Have not seen it in the local market so today decided to do a quick search but don't have key words in the url link to search with. The FAQ link above noted a difficulty penetrating Florida markets...which may be why I haven't had that many inquiries. The FAQ also doesn't address the video competition. Looking at Sean's site and the Lake Vista property it was embedded within the page, so went to searching for a url. The property is still active, but no tour is included. Likewise with Trulia. Frustrated, went to the agent/brokerage website where the property was featured, but still, no tour. Seems like a wasted resource.

  6. I am in the Northern Virginia Area and several large real estate listing firms do offer this (the have several photographers and videographers on staff). What I hear from my agents that have agents in their office using 3D is that it is way to long of a process at the listing home. They do not have time nor do the homeowners for photos, then walk around video then 3D to be done. I understand with a large listings it would be an asset but with most area listing averaging around $200-$400K agents are not willing to pay for that added feature. It is hard enough to get them to pay for just photos. Also I hear that many REALTORS and buyers don't like the views and prefer video walk thru with a drone compared to the 3D version. Just what I hear in the DC/VA/MD are REALTORS, plus I am also an active REALTOR.

  7. I have had 2 enquiries about matterport, and I have mixed feelings. The biggest concern I have is that their website says they will soon release a matterport app for smartphones that does not require the $4500 camera.

    The disadvantage to being an early adopter is that advancing technology can offer cheaper and better solutions, leaving you stuck with obsolete and very expensive technology.

    I am very interested, but plan to wait for a while until the next generation comes out. I would hate to see customers doing their own 3d maps on their smartphones while I am trying to recoup the investment on equipment.

    When customers call. I offer to purchase the technology in exchange for a commitment of at least $5,000 worth of business. No takers...

  8. I had looked into Matterport and I think the 3D product is cool. But I was concerned that it wouldn't appeal to buyers that aren't '3D minded'. I don't know any other way to say it. I guess it's the interaction required by the viewer someone mentioned earlier.

    I hadn't considered Matterports use as a listing agent selling tool. But maybe choosing a selling agent and choosing a house are two distinctly different processes.

  9. @Dan Smigrod - I didn't intend to say Matterport is not a successful product ANYwhere, I intended to say it isn't going to be a successful product EVERYWHERE. I've fixed the wording in the post. My point is that many real estate markets in smaller towns where agents typically won't spend $250 - $500 for marketing their listing it's not likely to be a successful product.

  10. I don't use Matterport for my own reasons, but I feel anyone that wants to work hard enough at something can make it successful and a money making venture. I feel this post was not well thought out and is potentially damaging to a company trying to make a business successful. The "typo" is a prime example. Also to post a poll where anyone can vote is not exactly fair. There is nothing stopping me from voting that it's not paying for itself and I don't even own one, so how are the results accurate? I get it "the honour system" but one can only assume a lot of voters don't own the system and just like clicking on polls because they can...

  11. @Matt - Yes, of course, the poll is not perfect but, in general readers are honest and the poll captures the essence of the subject. As of the time of your comment the site has had 1675 visitors since midnight, 400 came to the site after getting the email about the post or the twitter announcement and only 32 have voted in the poll so not every site visitor is voting on the poll.

  12. If i had $500, i would spend it on a Matterport at this end of the game is rendered obselete by this technology. Soon. You will be too.

  13. In Australia, Virtual Tours are pretty much phased out these days. They had a good run for nearly 10 years, some people still provide them for real estate, but most agencies tending away from then. Videos have come and gone too. They concentrate on high end photographs with the aim to attract attention with maximum impact. They want to get the buyers to come and visit in person, not shop off the web.
    I looked hard at the Matterport to see if it was adding anything new, or different. To me it looks like a bad version of a VT. I wrote to them to see if post processing was possible as everything looked dull or flat but apparently that isn't in the pipeline.
    One photo agency here is about to start offering them again and I'm not worried as I feel the quality is far less than what can be offered elsewhere. It's a shame, because I liked the concept, just not the result.

  14. I have been asked about it by exactly ONE agent. Ever. That's it. I have shown it to probably 15 sellers over the past couple of years as I was attempting to gauge interest (I actually was considering diving in if there was interest), and was met with a lukewarm reception from just about everyone. Most didn't 'get it'. Many had issues navigating it on a mobile device. I had to explain what it was to most people. They just couldn't wrap their heads around it easily. The one thing that people did think was "cool" was the dollhouse effect. Bottom line is people don't want to "work" or learn HOW to watch a tour. We went through that a decade ago... they just want to push a button and watch.....

    Based on the amount of time needed to shoot a typical 4000 sq ft house, I don't think that most Realtors would be willing to pay what I would have to charge for that amount of time OR would they be willing to babysit me for 3-4 hours while I shoot photos, video AND Matterport. Not to mention you are putting your business into a proprietary system. What happens if they go out of business, or get purchased or any number of things that happen to companies and applications all the time these days? I've been at the receiving end before and it's NOT pretty. I've learned. I have full control over everything in my business. Oh, and Matterport doesn't do exteriors.

    My gut feeling is it's mostly Realtors who think it's a smashing idea..... less so for actual consumers who would be the end user.

    It's kind of like drones.... Realtors buy them because they think EVERY house deserves or warrants an aerial shot. And most don't. And they shoot 4 minutes of flying around a house looking at the ugly roof from 5 different aerial vantage points...hardly showing any other aspect of the house, whereas the buyer really wants to see the house from the GROUND where they will be actually living.

    Of course I also believe that video tours are more palatable by most consumers. But that's just my prejudice.

  15. @larry I agree with you that the value proposition will not always be there for a real estate agent.

    In reading the comments in this Matterport post, a common theme is comparing features about why one visual storytelling solution is better than another and making a decision based on these observations.

    I suggest that it is not our decision: it's our clients.

    If real estate agents and brokers can use new visual storytelling tech X or Y or Z to ...

    1. win new listings
    2. get more listings
    3. get bigger listings

    ... it doesn't matter what we as service providers think of gear, features, etc. Really.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but for many Pro still photographers, it's a race to the bottom (pricing) by providing a solution that is often perceived as a commodity.

    So, just as agents and brokers look for solutions that help them achieve their goals by differentiating their listing presentations, photographers that are barely making a living competing on price need to find "the next thing" - a blue ocean - that enables them to generate more revenue from existing clients and get new clients – whether that's Matterport 3D and Virtual Reality Tours.



  16. I think we have to offer this service. Not to offer it is standing against the wave and we all know how that ends up. I'm looking into a mattterport camera. I have 7 agents and I will teach them all how to use it. When I learn myself. I'm from a hostile environment. Try not to pussy out.

  17. In the end, the realtor that had the interest bought the camera, and I do the the scans. That way, he gets his exclusive, since probably no other realtor in town will pony up for it, and I get to work with it without having the investment risk. Win/win.

    It's very easy to use, probably easier then making a call to Geico. :). I did my first scan the other day, a fairly large home and it took a couple of hours. Then it's just a few minutes of telling the software where the windows and mirrors are, and a quick easy upload. So, very little post-work. Once uploaded, the realtor takes over. This arrangement is probably the perfect way to do it for my business. I'll end up doing 50 tours a year, but since it's time I can charge for, at the very same rate as doing photos or video, there's no reason not to.

  18. About a year ago I looked into this service, started talking to my best clients about it (both average and a top luxury agents)

    Learned two things:
    1) The Average agents won't pay for it, if they do it'll be only once or on a very rare listing (the house has to be perfect in their mind) but they love the idea of the service
    2) The top luxury agents I work for who can pay for it won't, because it shows too much of their clients home online (Literally every square inch mapped out exposed for the literal world to see) --Wealthy people highly value their privacy-- The only ones they want to see their home are the buyers who can afford it

    The highly experienced luxury agents I work for won't use it because of this

  19. People use their phones to look at house pictures and video. It is nearly impossible to go into "dollhouse view" on your phone, and it was very confusing. For that reason only I thought the technology was not very thought out. Pretty soon they will be selling the motorized tripod and a nifty lens for your iphone for around $500, leaving the current hardware obsolete. I do both video and photo and fight with realtors to pay for video. Trying to sell them on Matterport is a losing proposition. To those that are successful, great! good for you, you made it work.

  20. I wish there was a better response in regards to what people are charging for this service. I know in southern california we are in the $250-$350 range.. One of the guys i know says he has had matterport since Oct 2015 and he had such a great response that the camera and accessories have been paid for 5 times over! Im excited about this new service to my clients and most are pretty stoked too!!

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