Zillow unveils new app for capturing 3-D home tours

The new, free Zillow 3D Home app debuts in Phoenix before expanding nationwide later this year

Zillow on Thursday unveiled a new, free app called Zillow 3D Home that will allow agents, brokers, and real estate photographers to capture immersive 3-D home tours directly on their iPhones, and upload them to Zillow listings.

The app is for iPhone only (models 6 and 6 Plus, or newer) running iOS version 10 or later, and is presently only accessible to agents in Phoenix, but will expand nationwide in 2018. You can download it on the Apple App Store here and see an example of what it looks like in a listing.

A Zillow executive billed the technology as the only mobile app that can capture 3-D tours at no cost, and said a 3,000-square-foot home can be photographed in approximately 30 minutes with an iPhone. The app appears to work by using the “panoramic” camera feature on the iPhone to capture 360-degree views of any given room.

Additionally, listings that feature the 3-D tours will receive preferred sort order, appearing at the top of Zillow search results, according to details released Thursday.

In October Zillow announced it was testing the technology among a group of real estate agents and photographers in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“There’s no secret sauce there,” said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow Group chief marketing officer, when asked why the roll out began in Arizona. “Phoenix is a warm housing market, so when we were doing a Q4 beta test and Q1 launch it’s nice to pick a market where the weather’s a little more stable. It’s a fairly stable housing market, too, from a listing supply standpoint so we kind of wanted to pick a market that would have a pretty predictable set of activities.”

Zillow 3D Home seems poised to be a serious competitor to pricier virtual tour cameras and software by Matterport, GeoCV and Realvision, among other companies.

It was not immediately clear if Zillow would eventually support 3-D tours provided by third-party software like Matterport, GeoCV, NCTech and Realvision. The Zillow website already allows links to other 3-D tours.

Zillow currently separates itself from these other providers in the file format by capturing photos as JPEGs and then stitching them together to create the appearance of a virtual tour. Most 3D technology uses the OBJ format.

Earlier this month, Zillow mistakenly deleted up to thousands of 2-D walkthrough videos on property listings, which the company acknowledged in a Jan. 8 email to customers of its Premier Agent app. A source speculated that an error in Zillow’s work behind-the-scenes to prepare for its new Zillow 3D Home app could have caused the deletion of the 2-D walkthrough videos.

Wacksman denied the two issues were related and said some walkthroughs would be re-uploaded or recovered.

Article by Jotham Sederstrom

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