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Significant New Events in the Evolution of 360 Real Estate Tours

Published: 14/05/2018
By: larry

REmarketingFelix in Florida recently sent me a link to a new service that Ricoh, the 360 camera maker has launched for Realtors:

Ricoh Tours

I've followed the evolution of 360 tours for many years because I used to do 360 tours like the one on the right for all my wife's listings. Back in 2000, it was hard work to put these tours together!

Over the past few years, 360 tours are gaining in popularity mostly because of the popularity of Matterport tours. But not all agents are willing to invest in what it takes to deliver Matterport tours to their clients. Another factor is cameras that do all the hard work of creating 360 images are getting cheaper and cheaper.

Significant New Events in the Evolution of 360 Real Estate Tours

  1. Ricoh Tours, a turnkey 360 tour hosting service with an inexpensive camera being marketed to Realtors. Ricoh Theta cameras start at $199.95.
  2. Zillow is in the process of testing a 360 App for IOS and Android in the Phoenix, AZ market. See this listing as an example. Apparently, this will be available all over the US later in 2018.

Both of these are significant but I think Zillow having 360 tours will have a big impact on the demand for 360 tours just like its walk-through video feature did. Better get a copy of the Zillow 360 Home app now and practice doing 360s!

22 comments on “Significant New Events in the Evolution of 360 Real Estate Tours”

  1. IMO (whatever that's worth), these types of tours are good for one thing and one thing only....getting the listing. Admittedly, that is a big deal. For the user...can I say it suuuuucks? How is it that the user is the last consideration?

    Also, Ricoh and Zillow have a ways to go to be as good as Matterport. The quality and maneuverability just isn't there.

  2. Subject: Ricoh Tours, a turnkey 360 .........

    I visited this website. I just wanted to look at a few examples. First, without registration, you can not. Further, there is nothing to see, no pictures, no 360 examples - NOTHING! All she offered was to buy her hardware.

    I immediately wrote their support and asked to remove my data from their service IMMEDIATELY.


    Greetings from MUC

  3. Oops! Being multilingual I wrote my previous comment without thinking. I change constantly from German - English - German. So here is my comment in English;

    Subject: Ricoh Tours, a turnkey 360 ………

    I visited their website just now with a view to seeing some images as well as 360 examples. First of all, you cannot enter their site without registering! BTW, this contravenes the data protection laws here in Germany. What did I find after entering? NOTHING! All that was on offer was the possibility to sign up to an expensive platform as well as them pumping their hardware. No images, no examples of 360 - WHAT a WASTE of my valuable time!!

    I immediately wrote to their support and demanded they IMMEDIATELY "R E M O V E" ALL my data from their server.

    If you are going to visit their site, do so with the utmost dilligence!

  4. I see someone translated my post from German into English. I presume it was a machine translation as it isn't very good. There is NO replacement for the human being!

  5. I tried looking at the 3d Home Same on Zillow but all I get is a spinning circle. I tried from home and work. For month's I've said that 5 years from now sellers will expect and demand a 360 view. Its easier than ever and you can use quality free software althought there are some very good low cost hosts. You can post 360 to Facebook and Google (right now). Personally, I am putting more eggs in the 360 basket than not. It's coming and Zillow has proven that's it's coming easy and free. Certainly people who spent thousands of dollars with Matterport will defend their position but I still know agents who defend the old printed mls book and photographers who defend film, that doesn't mean it's not coming.

  6. Clearly, there’s a lot of effort being put into eliminating the photographer. This is not the first we’ve seen “Buy this, eliminate the photographer”, “Buy that, get rid of the photographer”. “Surely, Mr. Agent, you can push this little button, can’t you?” Wasn’t it P.T. Barnum that said: “There’s a sucker born every minute”?

    As photographers, we can’t help but see the lower quality, the gimmicky aspect, and the clear effort to sell something, ‘anything’ that will cut us out regardless of its true value or how effective it really is. From smartphones, to 360º ‘tours’, to 2 minute walk through videos, there’s a plethora of solutions being offered to P.T. Barnum’s friends. How many online groups do we see that encourage newbies to buy some cheap junk camera, or a gimmick, and concentrate on marketing instead of photography?

    If nothing else, observing the trend De jour should remind us to concentrate on producing quality images, be priced correctly, and provide great service. If we lose a customer along the way, be nice. He’ll probably be back.

  7. @Steven Schafer - I just retested the link I gave above for the Zillow listing that has a 360 tour on it and it works for me. As an alternative, you might try too just look at upper-end listings in Scottsdale, AZ - this is where Zillow is beta testing this feature. Many listings in Scottsdale have a 360 tour.

    Also, you can download the Zillow App that creates these tours... it is currently in the IOS App store called Zillow 3d Home - it's also in the Android App store.

  8. @Gary - I'm a techie that has spent most of my life with Realtors and I can say that even though Zillow is making this easier and easier the majority of Realtors don't want to do 360s or video walkthroughs they are happy to hire someone to do it for them.

    The unfortunate reality is that Zillow has managed to get control of the online real estate listing and are making the rules. Real estate photographers need to understand this and learn how to live with it. Like it or not Zillow is well on their way to taking over the function of MLS in many areas! It's hard to even see this unless you track MLS and property sold stats.

  9. @Larry – Zillow is pretty smart and is offering things the average MLS doesn’t. Most MLS’s hang their hat on their exclusivity and ignore the needs of the community. Some go so far as to abuse professionalism with restrictions that make no sense, and nonsense like copyright battles. Savvy marketers, like Zillow, will eat their lunch and own the market before the established providers figure out what’s going on. Zillow is changing how real estate is sold and will soon control the market.

    One problem us ‘techies’ have is, sometimes were so impressed by the technology we fail to put its usefulness into perspective. Most 360º presentations are difficult and slow to navigate, and rarely make the customer want to see the property – our primary job.

  10. Larry,

    1) doesn't Zillow get the listings directly from the MLS systems? If so, how can they control anything? School me please.
    2) how exactly is Zillow going to control photographers?

  11. I like delivering what our Real Estate agents clients want. Right now they want 360s. We offer iGuide, a beautiful feature-rich product and several levels of consumer-grade 360° (using a Ricoh Theta V) to fill the niche for smaller budgets. The 360° images compliment the photography and most of all make my client, the home seller, and the buyer happy.

    Animated 360 using Pano2VR:

    360 Slideshow:

    Embrace change, the technology will improve.

  12. @Wannabeyou -
    1-Yes every listing on the MLS gets sent to Zillow but there are more homes for sale in any given area than are on the local MLS in very hot markets that ratio gets higher. Right now in Seattle, there are 3339 properties on the MLS and 1184 that are just on Zillow. Zillow calls it Make me move. This only started happening in the last 3 years. Zillow is becoming the place to go when you are looking for a home... mobile app and better marketing than MLS provide. Zillow is a small step from replacing local MLSs.
    2-Seller AND agents insist on walkthrough video and will soon demand 360 tours (like all the homes in Scottsdale, AZ). Photographers have to do it their way... a huge number of photographers provide smartphone video walkthroughs although they can do it better using their DSLR. Zillow is in control!

  13. Larry,
    #1 - So, I understand what you're saying. Cray cray that local MLS systems sh$$ the can.
    #2 - are you saying Zillow is in control of or will be in control of Zideos (my made up word) and 360s because in order to get them on Zillow photographers/agent must use those apps? I guess it is just a short step to control anything that gets uploaded. Including photographs?

    As an aside, I remember predicting on this website (or maybe it was flickr?) that Zillow would be able to do whatever they want to photographers and/or the control system requiring photographers to use. That prediction was soundly pooh poohed here. I'm not saying you pooh poohed it, just that several did.

  14. I am not so sure that every listing gets sent. Some time back when Zillow stopped buying syndication from List Hub they asked brokerage houses and mls's to sign feed agreements. Not all mls's or brokerages agreed. That said some brokerages feed directly to Zillow. They could shut it off but that's not in the best interest of their listings. No where in here has the best interest of the home seller been brought to the forefront. While I'm not a 100% Zillow fan, and belive that one day they will make a play like buying 1 or 2 large brokerages overnight to form Zillow Real Estate with brick and mortar agents I do acknowledge that they bring free exposure to home owners that others inclusive of the old guard agents and the mls boards won't. Zillow is filling wants, needs and desires that others say no to. As photographers, we are not involved in mls, zillow or any other real estate policy but the visual servants of those that hire us. To ensure survival, become fit. Deliver the best possible product in your market place and that will be your calling card!

  15. the thing is...I can't even get some of my clients to even push their vtours onto their social media platforms, or use them for marketing. They use the idea of vtours to get the listing and hope for the best. So even if it's the latest and greatest, 360s or whatever, unless the agents put it out there and they get results....I'm not sure about making a commitment to it.

  16. A day late, but back to subject as Zillow will do as Zillow will do - and rumored to become a brokerage competing directly!
    I was initially turned on to the Ricoh camera when one of my Realtor clients asked me about it. Apparently a competitor was using it as an "assist" for FSBO prospecting, taking the video for 2 week trial then deactivating the link. Want it to continue???-list with me. I looked at both the previous and current Theta models and noted the reviews where they are tops in their category - however a new upstart has come along. Tried is on a couple of shoots and returned it to Best Buy, writing a two star review. While Ricoh didn't have their real estate platform, established an account with RoundME. With my also being a Realtor, was intrigued when the client mentioned the prospecting usage. Bottom Line - not something I would put my name behind as a photographer, but for the average person who lacks critical standards, it is OK - when it works. It has some of the worst CA/purple fringing I have ever seen Look around the windows on Ricoh's marketing example. But that was only the beginning. First was having to re-load the app to make the connection which seems simple enough, except lacking cell service on site and the big NO-NO, asking homeowner for their network password. After getting to work, stepping into the next room, interior was fine, but exterior another issue. Could be 10' away as step around the corner, but the brick wall blocks and needed to go inside near window. Likewise, front shot near street with small front yard, hiding around corner as there were no trees, and unable to connect. Finally, the back hedge by the pool, was 3' away squatting low behind the hedge and no connection. Tried again on a second shoot (think that is when I had to ask homeowner for their WiFI password) and I couldn't even finish the job when moved outside - even connecting with line of sight through windows. It went back to Best Buy. I did notice that there is a new consumer level 360 camera made by upstart Arlo. More expensive and reportedly better, but I haven't tried.

  17. With any new technology, it's about whether it makes you money or not. If you have to price 360 tours at a point where you are making $15/hour doing them, it isn't worth bothering with. With 360's the home has to be fully prepped. There is no framing an image to exclude something or quickly moving trash cans and pet stuff off to the side. Each room has to be staged. While I might do a little minor staging on a job, I can't spend the time to groom each room for a 360 without also charging my hourly rate (internal calculation) and that's much more than a house cleaner will charge and perhaps even more than a stager. Coupled with the cost of having me do the staging, I might not have the time to do it before I need to be on my way to my next appointment. Agents need to be prepared for what 360 images will mean on their part so they chivy the homeowner into getting the property ready and visit a home in advance.

    I'm still waiting for agents in my area that are willing to pay for drone images. Some of them are using them, but they are hiring unlicensed operators and don't believe that they could be fined. If you can add a service without spending too much and it's possible to charge enough to make it worthwhile, it's a no-brainer. There should also be some skill involved or you customer may just purchase the product themselves and have a staff member they are already paying do the work.

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