Thursday, September 10, 2015

Totally SAFE or super CREEPY - what do you think?


Virtual 3D tours have been around from different companies and at varying levels of quality for a long time, but with increased bandwidth access, the mass adoption of mobile hardware in our hands 24/7, and the app race that is going on in many industries, I have seen it really pick up steam lately. In the Real Estate industry specifically this 3D tour technology is becoming more accessible, easier to create, and the experts are starting to label it as one of the big upcoming trends ...that may soon be a new standard. Pushing out the age-old online "stack" of boring room pictures that "just doesn't cut it anymore".

Here's an example of the technology we are talking about: 3D Virtual Tour
Make sure you check out the "dollhouse' view on the bottom left. Click/tap/pinch in a room to zoom into a picture on the wall. Pretty cool, BUT...

I'm a little conflicted.

The Realtor geek in me LOVES the cool factor of this tech. I totally see the great marketing benefits and advantage for the Seller side; and I definitely see how Buyers would love being able to evaluate properties through the virtual experience of standing in the home, getting to really looking around, instead of just flipping through a few pics. I mean what Seller is not going to totally love looking INSIDE the neighbors' house, walk through it, steal decorating ideas, get some decorating tips, copy paint color schemes, laugh at their furniture choices, make note as comparison for when they might list their house for sale ...ya, no one'll do that.

The more cautious side of me has a few more than just mild concerns.

The first one is for the safety of the Seller. For an occupied property; imagine you are selling your home; you've put your kids to bed and are settling in to read a book before going to sleep yourself. Without you even knowing, someone in a white van trolling around your neighborhood just drove by your house and saw the For Sale sign; they pulled over - maybe out front or maybe down at the nearest Quick Trip - and took out their iPhone, did a quick internet search to find your property listing - if your agent is doing their job, it's SUPER EASY to find your house online - so they click the link for the awesome 3D tour of your beautiful home. That's what they get right there on their phone sitting just down the street from your house ...[click the link up above again]. Pause for a sec, imagine that 3D virtual tour is really your house that someone in a white van is looking through, while you and your family are sleeping in your beds. Now, after you get over the excitement that you live in this $16 Million mansion in DC ...or maybe like me, the pit in your stomach of how much the utilities and insurance are for such a massive home goes away - how does that make you feel - not the pit in your stomach about the A/C bill - the white van guy looking through your house? Hold that thought for a second - we'll come back to this.

Next, what about for the Buyer. Does this "pull back the curtain" too much and allow buyers to start justifying more and more making the largest and most important financial purchase of most peoples' lives without feeling like they need to go in it - experience it for REAL - smell it? Will they completely rule out a home that doesn't have a 3D tour that may have been the perfect house - it will take time before every listing has something like this as a standard, so not every house will have one in the beginning. Certainly there are people that HAVE to purchase properties site-unseen - for them this technology is pretty darn awesome. International buyers. What about investment buyers - pretty cool tool to help them get things done quicker. I get that there is a lot of awesome here.

But let's also not forget the security concerns for the Buyer as well. Some Buyer is going to become the new owner of that once listed house with it's worldwide nakedly exposing 3D tour that someone may have somehow "pulled" offline to save for later. These new 3D tours are NOT EVEN CLOSE to the same as having a bunch of pictures online that ANYONE can flip through, like we have now. They aren't even the same as the video tours that we have now - closer but still not the same. This offers a whole new perspective into a house - someone's home - good or bad.

SO - I truly am not a paranoid person - at least I try not to be - and we absolutely can't stop technology. I'm just curious about your opinion. What do you think ...if you were looking for homes as a buyer?'bout if it was your house that you lived in while it was on the market? ...what about if you were looking at buying a house, would you care that everyone - ANYONE - has basically been inside your soon to be new home - virtually anyway? Do you feel totally safe - it's no big deal - no different than a bunch of pics of your rooms being online everywhere? OR does it completely freak you out? OR are you somewhere in between?

We are constantly watching the trends for our Buyers & Sellers, and soon enough - maybe even sooner than we think - we'll have to decide how to start implementing this technology ...or at least offering it. Privacy & security have always been something that we coach our clients on from the very beginning. Letting them know that their home is now on stage for everyone - anyone - to see and they need to be aware. The internet is a fabulous and dangerous thing. Even with just some pictures of your home posted online there are real security and privacy risks. We help our clients with strategies and tips on how to protect themselves, their families, and their privacy while still successfully marketing their home. We already have some great ideas on how we are going to go even farther and step-up our game on these points with our clients to further guard against the risks that come with additional exposure like this. It may seem obvious but we hear from clients all the time that hadn't thought of these or any  risks.

Bottom line - technology makes this possible ...

 ... and this too...

Regardless, most likely at some point it, this tech or something like it will become the new standard and in this world of constant exposure and lessening privacy, I imagine this is going to be a reality on some level no matter what.

So we're really curious what YOU think. Leave us a comment.

*I apologize for picking on white vans.

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