REAL ESTATE IN AN UNREAL WORLD

This article was recently published in the San Francisco Chronicle. We thought it would be great to share this with those who frequent our virtual tour company blog as it reflects the growing desire for us to experience 3D walkthrough like technology and 3D animations. Recently the Real Tour Vision 3D department has been very busy working on many new projects with our 3D Animation crew. Some of our current work may be seen on our 3D walkthrough page of our website. Enjoy the article and remember that the Real Tour Vision Animators are industry best!

San Francisco Chronicle

By Tom Geller, Special to The Chronicle

The weather is perfect for an open house. The listing agent greets you at the door and you enter the clean, rambling home, its lofty rooms done tastefully in muted cream with brown accents. Touring upstairs, you remark to a winged white tigress that the bathroom would look better with colored lighting; she touches a panel on the wall to make the change, considers, then agrees.

This isn’t Narnia; it’s Second Life, a virtual world where more than 1.5 million “residents” use computers to control graphic representations of themselves and interact with others as they wander through realistic landscapes that other residents have created.

The game’s large audience has attracted real-world businesses, such as Circuit City, Toyota and Sears, that attempt to attract customers to their Web sites by “building” stores in Second Life.

Now, Second Life is a venue for selling another big-ticket item: homes.

The appearance of real-world home models in online worlds such as Second Life acknowledges that Americans are spending more time in virtual spaces that go beyond the Web. Sites such as Realtor.com already provide home buyers with basic property details, photos, and occasional movies of prospective properties. But immersive, 3-D online experiences such as Second Life, Google Earth and Google SketchUp go further by allowing visitors to fly over the city, stroll around the neighborhood, and even walk in the front door – without leaving the computer keyboard.

Last month, a Seattle-area Coldwell Banker office created a virtual model of a real-world 5,700-square-foot new home on Mercer Island, listed for a little more than $3 million. While several real estate companies have used Second Life to advertise their services, this is believed to be the first time a real home has been available for touring in this environment. Listing agent Suzanne Lane (“Suzanne Ibanez” in Second Life) said she’s been happy with the response.

“We’ve had tremendous interest. About 3,700 people have come in and walked around, including quite a few who are capable of buying this level of home,” she said. “It’s a property that does command a worldwide market, so we’re really excited about this new avenue because it’s more worldwide.”

She’s still not sure whether Second Life will ultimately help her sell the house. However, she’s optimistic about the project as a general marketing tool. “I’ve fielded quite a few questions from people who say they’re potential buyers,” she said. “The actual home is sort of a launch pad for more information.”

The real-world house was left unstaged, its empty rooms devoid of furniture, art, and the cliche breakfast tray in the master bedroom. The home’s Second Life version could have been filled with such homey touches at a tiny fraction of the cost of a real-world staging, but Charlie Young, Coldwell Banker’s senior vice president of marketing explained why it isn’t.

“We made a decision to represent it exactly as it exists in the real world,” said Young, who is known as Spuds Carter in the virtual world. “Even the handles on the kitchen cabinets are the same. If you look out the back window, it’s the real view. Just because you’re not actually in the listing doesn’t mean you can’t experience what it’s like.”

The Mercer Island home is part of a larger strategy for Coldwell Banker, which opened its Second Life office in March and revealed that it had secretly been buying virtual property for development and resale.

Read the full article is HERE