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3D Real Estate Photography Is Now A Reality - And A Must-Have

A rendering of a light-filled unit at the Hub, the 600-unit luxury rental complex at 333 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. Steiner NYC

A rendering of a light-filled unit at the Hub, the 600-unit luxury rental complex at 333 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. Steiner NYC

Tech disruption of the real estate industry shows no sign of slowing. From Zillow attempting inroads into agent-less offers to multiple players upending traditional broker-agent and agent-client relationships, real estate professionals ignore the changing business landscape at their own peril.

Another level of disruption has come in how clients discover and get to know properties. Until recently, online photos and video tours have been the gateway for potential buyers to narrow down the field of options for their new home. Google Earth and drone video allow us to get to know the neighborhood and the look and feel of the home itself, without the need to schlep across town or across the country to gather that crucial information.

But static photos and videos paint an incomplete picture. When a client arrives to tour the actual home, pictures often, one way or the other, don’t quite do a property justice.

Three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) is becoming one of the latest tech disruptors and Springs Homes, where I run sales and marketing, has embraced the disruptive capacity of this increasingly crucial tool. Here's how it works and some ideas for leveraging it in your own brokerage.

How To Use 3D VR As A Full-Service Brokerage

The visually all-encompassing nature of 3D VR has been a benefit in several ways: First, clients can see our listings in an immersive way, experiencing the home or apartment as if they are there. But 3D can also provide a valuable record of the condition of a property at a given point in time.

For a brokerage or property management team, this is a great way to head off potential conflict around condition before it starts. By creating a full record of the condition of a property, managers can go back and look at the data, account for normal wear and tear and make clearer decisions when a lease expires and new potential renters are exploring option. Buyers and renters appreciate knowing there is a record of what they are signing on to as well, so what is promised is what is delivered. We also use it for tradespeople who have visual confirmation of what needs fixing and where — the less guesswork in these situations, the better.

One benefit we didn't think of at first: for sight unseen leases, or when one spouse is not available to walk through the property, 3D VR is a great tool to expedite decision-making so the client doesn’t lose out on the opportunity to someone else.

Unsurprisingly, 3D VR can give your firm a competitive edge, from the listing appointment through the whole customer experience of the brand and level of service. In a 3D virtual tour, that pile of boxes, that hole in the drywall, has nowhere to hide. It encourages sellers to put their best foot forward and gives buyers and property managers the “same page” to work from in terms of the condition of the property.

New construction is another area a full-service brokerage will benefit from 3D VR. We use the 3D camera to take pictures and do virtual walk-throughs for clients in the building process. When a homebuyer or builder is relocating, the search, the purchase and the build process can be a logistical challenge. With a virtual walk-through, instead of the client needing to make multiple trips, they can simply take a 3D tour at major milestone points. This way, they can look at every nook and cranny on their own terms. Buyers also send these tours out to their friends and family to show progress, which is a special bonus. Our client feedback on this service is overwhelmingly positive, and it demonstrates to the builder that they are a true partner in the transaction.

My firm is now exploring the idea of using this technology to showcase what’s interesting and inspiring about a given neighborhood. The idea is to scan, say, an area rec center or club house, and offer the organization a link to the content created by us that they can share. At the end of the day, we want to be disruptive in the most positive ways possible.

Like any real estate brokerage should, we are keeping our eyes open for the next disruptor on the horizon — perhaps the “Smellovision Open House” app is coming next, with the scent of baking bread wafting through your VR home tour! For now, 3D VR can give your brokerage an edge and added confidence in your work and reputation as a trusted resource in any real estate transaction.

Originally written by Joe Boylan for Forbes

Virtual Staging for an Open House

Open House is a great way to get your property noticed. 

If you have ever held a Open House you are aware of the fact that bare walls don’t produce good impression. However, the bulky staging won’t encourage potential buyers to get the property either.

Moreover, estimation of the property scale is of great importance. It is not really possible when the room is stuffed with things that, besides, may not appeal to a client. 

You should plan everything beforehand including your budget. We believe you don’t want to waste thousands of dollars on staging the house with furniture and décor that will be removed afterwards, and in case the property won’t be sold you will have to pay for staging AGAIN. Is it worth it? 

Definitely not when there is such a unique and cost-neutral option as VIRTUAL STAGING.

There are lots of advantages to choose this method of presentation of possible interiors of your property.

First of all the prices are really attractive comparing to real home staging, the difference is just crazy. The average price for real home staging is $675, however, it is the cost only for stager’s service. A full staging will cost about 1% of the sale price.


With virtual staging you will spend a couple of hundreds of dollars that will be totally worth it as you can use the images not only for showing them to your client but also for putting them on your website and sale platforms such as StreetEasy, Trulia, etc.

Once we had an ASAP request from a real estate agent to virtually stage 3 photos: a master bedroom, a home office, a child's room. So the photos must have been done in… A DAY. Just to let you know, it takes about 18-30 hours per photo to recreate the space in a special program, choose preferable furniture and décor, place it into a photo and put it on a final render. Haven’t mentioned the time spent on corrections? (+ several hours depending on how quick the client’s feedback is).

So we threw all our forces to make it happen and it did. The work was quite intense, however, our main goal is to make everything possible to meet the demands of the client. 

Select agents offering 3D views

Craig Neil

Craig Neil

Real-estate marketing continues to evolve exponentially. For decades, agents looking to advertise homes for sale had one option, besides planting signs in front yards: the print media. Then, in the mid-1990s, the advent of the internet shook the status quo. But that only offered a wider, and cheaper, exposure for Realtors’ still photographs. It took almost another two decades for dramatic advances to appear. Now Realtors are expanding their presentations with drone photography, virtual staging, and 3D tours.

The best 3D tours are a real step up from the “virtual tours” that appeared a few years ago. Those either seem stilted or tacky in comparison to the 3D tour, and sometimes turn out to be simply slide shows with music. The more naturalistic 3D tour allows you to move around in the room, and among the rooms, and zoom in to inspect details.

You either navigate with the computer mouse or arrow keys, or your finger with touch screens. Moving through a property on the smartphone can be more fun than on the computer, although you’re limited by the smaller screen size.

For a more immersive experience, you can get a pair of Google Cardboard goggles for $10 and view these house galleries in a realistic dimensionality.

All of these options are available for a few home listings at homesantafe.com, the website of Realtor Paul McDonald (Sotheby’s International Realty). “I do think there is an issue with the users’ familiarity with technology and their desire to do something like this, so it would seem to me to appeal to the younger of mind,” he said. “It’s pretty rare that someone has said they want to buy a house as a result of just seeing the 3D tour. Like other technologies that are tiptoeing in these waters, it’s more about the selection process.

“I think like any technology it’s kind of clunky at first; whether it ever gets to critical mass I don’t know. I have a good friend in business who said, ‘The problem with your industry is the delivery of your product: you have to get in your car and go out and see it.’ This gets us one step closer.”

McDonald has his own Matterport 3D camera. The Matterport has nine lenses: three down, three straight ahead, and three up. The photographer attaches it precisely level on a tripod, then makes a series of exposures in a circle, repeating the process at 30 or 40 locations in the house. When you later view the 3D imaging, there is a circular figure at each location and you can progress from one to the next to move wherever you want in the home.

The Realtor has heard that Zillow is testing a similar technology that would allow the average real-estate agent to assemble a dimensional home tour using an iPhone. “The other part of this technology is looking at it in terms of the three mantras of business — faster, better and cheaper — and if the Zillow model works, you don’t have to go buy a Matterport camera [for about $3,000] and it doesn’t take you a couple hours to do a house.”

The Matterport facility also offers viewers another perspective, focusing on the plan view, looking down on the room layout from above.

Check out the Tesuque Creek property listed on McDonald’s website and you see an example of virtual staging. “This is another technical aspect of marketing a home that’s not real, if you will. They take a CAD drawing, they select things they want to dress it up with [furniture, rugs, paintings on the walls], and then send it ovenight to India, using massive computing power, and when it comes back... you’re not going to believe it’s not really staged when you look at the image.

“I feel like these two technologies are competing in this arena. We see this virtual staging assisting new-construction projects. I’ve used it on a home that was empty and I wanted to get going on the marketing. I think these are both tools that we didn’t have a couple of years ago that are going to be with us forever.”

Another Realtor using the Matterport system is Craig Neil with Keller Williams Santa Fe Realty. He said the resolution of the Matterport pictures has improved to the point that the agent can often use captures from a 3D tour of a house for websites and even brochures. “You’re saving money because you don’t have to do both 3D and regular photography.”

Neil and his business partner Sarah Said own their own camera. “Sarah has been a Realtor for more than two decades but I’ve just been in real estate for two years,” he said. “I come from the tech side; I worked for Apple for three years and I worked with Google doing Google ‘business view’ shooting, which is linked to Google Street View. I used my Nikon D7000 with a wide-angle lens and I’d take three different exposures at four angles of a circle, then composite those 12 images together to make a circle and then connect them to other circles.”

Neil said he agrees with McDonald that the 3D technology appeals more to a younger audience. “I would guess 5 to 10 percent of people use this.

“The two things I think are of the most benefit to me as a Realtor is that for people from out of town who have seen the 3D tours, they’ve already walked through the houses and they know which properties they want to see. And most important, if they were here and walked through the actual house and later they can’t recall where the kitchen was. They contact me and I give them the link and they just go online and they can see it all.

“The market is so competitive right now that people want to get a head start. They see the listing come up and say, ‘We’re thinking of coming to Santa Fe in three weeks,’ and I have to tell them, ‘Well, that house is going to be gone in three days.’”

By Paul Weideman

Take a 3-D Apartment Tour to See the Real Estate Listing of the Future

333 East 91st St Teaser Video

MANHATTAN — Real estate broker Bianca D'Alessio was taken by surprise when a woman relocating from Boston to New York called last week with an offer on a new condo in an Upper East Side building, saying she had already done a “walk through.”

D'Alessio never took the woman on a tour of the model apartment at the Gianna, at 184 E. 64th St., but the buyer felt as if she had already seen enough of space, since there’s a 3-D model of it on the building’s website.

“I received an offer based on a visual tour,” said D'Alessio, of Nest Seekers. “You can zoom in on the quality of the finishes and see the magnificent fixtures. As you’re ‘walking through,’ you can see the detailing on the closets. You can zoom in and see there’s a Toto toilet and a Sub-zero refrigerator and Wolf range.”

Offering 360-degree three-dimensional tours is taking the presentation of real estate listings to the next level, brokers said. The tours will soon become more commonplace as technology has made creating such virtual tours cheaper than ever, many believe. 

3-D listing (Image courtesy of GeoCV.)

"For your client [who is selling], you want to be getting the right people through the door," said Alessio, who began incorporating 3-D listings in June. "I think it even weeds some people out. When you have this tool, it's almost their second showing, and you know they're interested as soon as they walk through."

GeoCV has been offering its services — including the 3-D tour, high-quality photos and a dollhouse-like floor plan — to brokers like D'Alessio since June. It plans to unveil a do-it-yourself kit at the end of the year for brokers to rent or buy, with a special 3-D camera that attaches to a smartphone using the company’s custom-made rotation device, explained Anton Yakubenko, GeoCV's CEO and co-founder.

It takes about an hour per 1,000 square feet to do a photo scan of an apartment and two days to turn around the finished product. The company currently charges 10 cents per square foot for its services, with a minimum of $199 per listing.

“It’s really a disruptive price for the market. It costs two or three times more from others,” Yakubenko said about other companies offering 3-D services.

His company uses "new generation" smartphones with 3-D cameras, he said, and is moving toward using a regular smartphone with a special attachment. Other companies tend to use pricey special cameras rather than smartphones.

His company is also developing an application to create virtual-reality tours of real estate listings, which new developments are increasingly using to give potential tenants a better feel for how the spaces will look when finished.

The demand for VR, Yakubenko noted, is less than the 3-D model right now, since few people have VR headsets at home to view listings. But he envisions a future where brokers have headsets in their office or can bring them to clients’ homes.

“It’s time-saving for agents and clients,” he said of the tools that can cut down on unnecessary trips to open houses.

The 3-D tours even help apartments that may need work and don’t show well in photos, he said.

“An agent was selling a townhouse needing significant renovation. He wanted buyers to understand the work involved,” Yakubenko said.

While some homes in similar condition often languish on the market, this particular townhouse, in Crown Heights, sold in a couple of weeks, he added.

D'Alessio agreed that more transparency can help apartments with potential pitfalls.

“It’s better to know what you’re walking into than be surprised,” she said.

Originally written by Amy Zimmer dnainfo.com

Selling the World, Virtually

Spatial computing is beginning the slow crawl to maturity. As the technology develops into something simultaneously more complex and also more stable, new areas of possibility open and grow. Since the beginning, avid enthusiasts have seen hope of a reformation of the real estate industry with the help of spatial computing, but it’s only now that real solutions are starting to be feasible.

Augmented reality projection rooms. Virtual reality walkthroughs. Mixed reality remodelling. These are just some of the potential ways that the act of buying and selling property will begin a seismic shift. We’ve collected five different projects that are using spatial computing to revamp real estate — plus, our breakdown of how successful we think they will be.

#1. 360 Walkthrough

The idea of a 360 walkthrough isn’t new, but until recently the technology has limited these “previews” to a flat experience. You could view a home on your computer, running around a space using the same drag and drop technology that Google Maps used to let us explore the world. Thanks to head mounted displays, those 360 walkthroughs are now even more immersive, and because 360 cameras have gotten so cheap and easy to use, every realtor can and should be adding a 360 walkthrough to their listings.

Because the cost of entry is so low, 360 walkthroughs are still a smart place to start, but this technology is quickly being overshadowed. There’s no real sense of immersion, since your point of view is limited to wherever the camera was initially placed; viewers don’t have the freedom to walk around, putting themselves in corners or experiencing the room from any angles the camera didn’t capture. We doubt this technology will survive more than five years, though for now the cost of hardware for alternative options will keep it afloat.

#2. Lightfield Volume Capture

Speaking of alternative options — we’re a little obsessed with light field volume capture at Hammer & Tusk, but it’s hard not to be. These cameras capture 360 video with 6 degrees of freedom, which means they can reproduce a location in photorealistic detail, and then let a person wander through that space. While creating video with this technology is still in the “so many hurdles to overcome” camp, the great news is that still pictures are ready for their mainstream debut.

There are a ton of companies working on this hardware, but none that we know of specializing specifically in adapting it for real estate. It’s a wide open playing field.

#3. Building in a Virtual World

Getting to consumers is a huge part of real estate, but what about creating buildings in the first place? If you’ve ever seen someone painstakingly hand-paint 400 tiny fake trees to put on the outside of an architectural model, you know the discipline is rife for disruption. Enter software like Vividly, which lets you create life-sized 3D models of real estate.

0-2Sw2hvB4CHBXhCvr.png

Walk through your creations, share them with colleagues or clients, and even convert existing 3D models from traditional architectural software. The world is your oyster!

#4. Remodelling the Future

Okay, so you’ve bought a house, but now you want to see what it would look like with granite countertops instead of marble; or maybe you want to knock down that wall into the kitchen and create a pass-through. If that’s the future you’re imagining, you’re not alone! So many people are entering this space that it’s hard to call out just one or two.

IKEA will be taking on remodelling thanks to Apple’s ARKit, which will improve the quality and ease-of-use of previous offerings that IKEA has tested over the years.

Cadsoft is a less proprietary company; no matter which construction company you’re using, or where you’re getting your fixtures, Cadsoft will create 3D renderings and provide them for viewing in a headset or on your computer. VR viewings avoids the mobile-first issue of realism, but adds on the headache of needing the right hardware, which is solved by the backup plan of computer mockups.

The upside of this technology is that you don’t have to try to picture how a remodel will look; the downside being that you still need some imagination to turn these digital creations into their life-life alternatives.

#5. The CAVE

This technology is not technically being used for real estate today, but it has huge potential for future use-cases. CAVE is an open-source software system paired with projector hardware that primarily exists in university research settings.

Think of it has a modern Holodeck — a large room whose walls are actually rear-projection screens or flat panel displays. The images on the walls are controlled by the motion of the person inside the CAVE, allowing a sense of real immersion as the room moves realistically along with the user.

The applications for real estate are incredible. Imagine going to your realtor’s office, and instead of driving around the city to thirty showings, you could walk into the CAVE and see every home from there. You would walk around a pre-filmed environment, check out the layout, even peer into cupboards! As long as a camera captured it, you could view it.

The strength of this technology is the ‘teleportation’ factor, and the ability to have more than one person experiencing the virtual environment at the same time. Downsides are that you’re still restricting to four walls and a small space, so things like moving up and down stairs will never feel entirely real. Plus, these setups require motion-capture technology and head-mounted displays, so comfort and setup would be a concern in a commercial environment.

Academic institutions aren’t the only ones working on tech like this. We’re seeing commercial applications, too.

Originally written by Wren Handman for www.hammerandtusk.com.