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Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was rare to rent or buy an apartment in New York City without visiting it first. Now, with in-person showings banned, New Yorkers are relying on video walk-throughs and virtual apartment tours to get a sense of a listing—beyond what photos can provide.
If you have an apartment that you are planning to rent out or sell, you will want your broker to create a 3D apartment tour for your listing. However, the technology is new to a lot of brokers, and there are a variety of apps and programs available. To help you figure out what sets them apart, Brick Underground reached out to brokers for the best examples of virtual apartment tours created with Asteroom, Matterport, Listing3D, and Realync.
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One thing to keep in mind before filming: Make sure the apartment is clean and decluttered. These videos show every inch of an apartment, including what you might miss in a traditional walk-through (think scuffed paint or cracks in the ceiling). Another tip from brokers: Don't rely on the virtual tour to tell the whole story. That means your broker will still need to provide photos and information about the listing, the building, and the neighborhood.
Some brokers are using Zoom and FaceTime instead of 3D virtual tours.
Victoria Vinokur, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens, is offering FaceTime tours for a two-bedroom co-op in Midtown East, rather than using a 3D tour. The advantage, she says, is a more personalized tour. Even if they can't navigate the tour themselves, prospective buyers can ask questions in real time.
Getting ready to list your apartment? Check out some of the best examples of 3D virtual apartment tours below.
Matterport, one of the most-used programs, recently released an iOS app for $10 a month that uses an iPhone’s camera instead of the original, high-end camera that retails for $3,400. Memberships range from $10 to $309, depending on how many active 3D models you need at one time. To navigate the tour, click on circles along the apartment’s floor. Appliance brands or backsplash materials can be highlighted in the tour.
The program is being used to show rentals at Bay 151 (shown above), a new development by KRE Group in Bayonne, New Jersey. The firm chose Matterport because it gives renters a real feel for the space without the fisheye experience you might see on other 3D tours.
The development launched last week, and has rented 15 apartments through virtual tours and virtual leasing, says Jacqueline Urgo, president of The Marketing Directors, who is working with the KRE Group.
The team at Prevu (a Brick Underground sponsor) is also using Matterport to create 3D tours like the one above of 312 East 22nd St., #PHB. The walk-through gives buyers the opportunity to see every part of a space remotely, says Macie Barnes, an agent at Prevu.
Matterport is also used for virtual tours at The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, shown above, which launched condo sales in March. The tours can be customized with videos about the history, architecture, and amenities of the historic building.
Asteroom makes 360-degree virtual tours with a smartphone and the Asteroom Pano Kit, which costs $90, and a tripod. The process takes about 15 minutes and the resulting virtual tour can point out features of the apartment. Navigate the apartment by clicking on blue arrows that guide you through the space, or you can click on specific rooms in a slideshow at the bottom.
Warburg Realty is using Asteroom because it’s cost-effective and easy-to-use, and the quality of the video is good, says Olivia Tormenta, director of marketing at Warburg Realty.
Lisa Larson, a broker at Warburg Realty, made tours for a few of her listings for interested buyers in two hours. “After I reduced the price for one of my listings, I received multiple requests for a virtual tour. Having a virtual experience has been invaluable to lining up showings,” Larson says.
Listing 3D is ideal if you or your broker is not tech savvy: Their team of 3D photographers (there’s five working daily city-wide) will go to your apartment and create a package including the 3D virtual tour, plus photos, floor plans, a QR code, and teaser videos for social media within one to two business days, says Michael Zats, co-founder of Listing 3D. There’s a minimum of $250, which covers up to 2,500 square feet of space, and an extra 10 cents per square foot after that.
Navigating the tours is straightforward, they begin with a bird’s-eye view of the floor plan and then you can go through the apartment by clicking white navigation points. You can use the floorplan to switch to a different room during the tour.
Christine Blackburn, a broker at Compass, is using the technology to conduct sales at 111 Montgomery, a new condo building in Crown Heights.
“At first, I expected there would be a learning curve for people who are used to touring apartments in person, but am happy to say that everyone has been pleased with this experience,” Blackburn says.
Realync has a web-based program and free iOS app with video tours rather than 3D virtual tours. There’s two options: live tours similar to a FaceTime call or you can upload pre-recorded videos and edit with voice overs and captions to highlight features of the apartment.
The team at Waterline Square, a luxury rental development on the Upper West Side, is using Realync to give video tours, in addition to uploading videos to YouTube. The development is continuing to allow move-ins during the pandemic, and the 3D tours have allowed us to finalize a number of deals, says Ally Shropshire, senior leasing associate at Waterline Square Rentals.
“The videos have a polished quality, a key factor for a luxury development like Waterline Square, and provide the feeling of walking into an apartment as you would for an in-person showing,” she says.
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