Traditionally, house touring entails commuting among top prospects and hours spent documenting rooms with photos, but Zillow wants to drag the process into the 21st century. Toward that end, the Seattle, Washington-based real estate database company today announced the debut of 3D Home, an AI-powered iOS app that allows potential home buyers to view 360-degree pics and tours of properties.

It’s available starting this week in the U.S. and Canada, a little more than a year after the launch of a pilot program which saw thousands of 3D tours created and viewed. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, an early partner, alone captured scans of over 600 listings.

“Making 3D home tours available for sellers and agents to capture and add to any listing, for free … is a huge milestone in our work to make the real estate transaction a more seamless, on-demand experience for consumers,” said Zillow senior director of product development Josh Weisberg. “Previously, 3D tours were only found on high-end or expensive homes, due to the high cost and time-intensive capture process. Now with 3D Home, adding an immersive experience to a home listing is fast, easy, and free, which benefits buyers and sellers at all price points.”

Zillow 3D Home tour

Above: Browsing a Zillow listing with 3D Home.

Image Credit: Zillow

As Weisberg explains, 3D Home works by capturing images using an iPhone’s camera or a compatible external camera, like Ricoh’s 360-degree Theta V or Z1. On-screen icons guided by motion-detecting algorithms instruct users where and when to snap photos, and once the entire house has been captured, computer vision models adjust exposure levels, select thumbnail images that “best represent” each room, and stitch together 3D walkthroughs.

Processed tours populate the My 3D Home dashboard, where they can be edited, shared privately, or added directly to a home listing. Zillow says that they take as little as 20 minutes to create, and it says that during the pilot, listings with 3D tours attracted more prospective buyers compared to those without them.

“Zillow has provided yet another way for agents to provide their clients with the best technology to promote their listings online,” said Eryn Richardson, general manager at Century 21 Heritage, another 3D Home pilot partner. “Zillow’s 3D Home tours is a great example of how Century 21 and Zillow are doing everything they can to create an amazing home shopping experience for consumers.”

Zillow, which says its mobile real estate apps are the most popular in their respective categories, has invested increasingly in AI in an effort to remain ahead of competitors like Trulia, Redfin, Homesnap, and Realtor.com. It introduced the Zestimate benchmark in 2006, which uses 7.5 million statistical and machine learning models analyze hundreds of data points to automate the valuations of 110 million properties across the U.S. (It claims the nationwide error rate is now below 4 percent.) And it recently introduced Personalized Sort, a search and recommendations tool which taps AI to account for personal criteria like decor and amenities.



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