On April 9th, the BRIDGE AOR sent a breaking news update that photography is now explicitly included as an essential service for facilitating real estate transactions. The order concludes that only vacant properties can be toured, but that vacant or non-vacant properties can be visited by photographers if we comply with Appendix A (appendix to the various county orders issued below). This is a helpful update, as it clarifies the confusion around essential services and pre-marketing activities including the creation of virtual tours.
Appendix A is a "social distancing protocol", and we believe that it must be followed, in addition to following the CDC Guidelines as common sense practices. All Hopscotch Interactive personnel will be required to wear masks, shoe coverings, gloves, and will refrain from touching their faces. We will also wipe lockboxes and keys as an extra precaution.
This is in addition to hand-washing, and keeping a social distance of 6' at all times. To determine if your city and county are still under stricter guidelines during Shelter in Place, we are in touch with each regional association of realtors, as well as city health officials (i.e. Sonoma County), to confirm whether or not any services are permitted at this time.
We will also require the Coronavirus Addenda (PEAD) for signature with contracts.
Appendix A - NEW Update 4/9/2020
Alameda County Order
Contra Costa County Order
City of Berkeley County Order
The Coronavirus has had impacts already that will change the way that we do business in Real Estate marketing forever. Hopscotch Interactive is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is one of the first locations in the country to have a shelter-in-place ordinance. We slowed operations to adjust to the changing information that was coming to us on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. But, as things have come more clearly into view, we have followed the situation closely as it pertains to real estate and we can now share the following update:
1) March 28, 2020 There was a change in the list of California Essential Services, and Real Estate was listed as an essential service. However, local cities and counties may have stricter rules in place, so everyone must make sure they have clearance from the local health officials before proceeding with any property marketing or visits.
2) March 31, 2020 The BRIDGE AOR announced that real estate services are an essential service in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, as well as the City of Berkeley.
3) CAR issue these Coronavirus Addenda (PEAD_4-2020 & form RLA_CAA_4-2020) which now must be signed by anyone who is entering a property to acknowledge the risks, and as a declaration that to their knowledge they are not sick. You can get the documents here or download them from the MLS.
4) April 6, 2020 The CAR shared this document that helps us navigate which cities and counties are acknowledging real estate marketing and services as essential
We are not returning to business as usual just yet, even if a property is in an area where we are considered essential. Here are some of the things that we are reviewing on a case-by-base basis to determine if we can enter a property:
These are just a few of the considerations that we are making. So, we are operating with a more conservative approach to this situation than other service providers, but we believe that following the CDC Guidelines for Coronavirus is the minimum we should do, and we also have to use common sense to understand what the risks are and if we can proceed.
Our greatest concern is the safety and well-being of our clients, and the health of our community, so we will always put that first.
We will continue to update and monitor the situation as it evolves, and thank all of our customers for their understanding as we navigate this together.
I also want to say thank you so much to the many Realtor Associations and representatives that I have spoken to all over the state during the last three weeks, you have been an incredible resource for me and I appreciate it very much.
Starting this month we will be offering Zillow 3D Home Tours in addition to our regular real estate marketing services such as still photography and Matterport 3D photography. First, let's get things straight, although they are called "3D", the Zillow 3D Home Tours are not really 3D. They are created with 360° panoramas, and are sequenced together into a 360° player without any photogrammetry or depth that would allow for their tours to be "true 3D". While this difference may not matter to some property marketers, it's a notable difference when comparing this service to a 3D photography offering. And, the creation of the tours is not entirely automatic. Although there is a bit of assistance from artificial intelligence (AI) to help place the panos in the right spots, this process is still largely manual and requires human intervention to make sure that the tours are indeed showing the correct relationships between images. Will there be 3D in the future? It's quite likely, so we are getting a head-start on working with their tech, and are looking forward to seeing this service evolve in the coming months
What the Zillow 3D Home Tours really have going for them is that although they aren't the highest image quality yet, they are incredibly efficient at reaching a ton of eyeballs via the Zillow platform. There are 40+ million unique users searching on Zillow every month, and early tests of the platform showed us that properties were getting hundreds of views on their tours. One of the reasons for this is that the Zillow app is wildly popular with home seekers. The other reason has to do with the way that Zillow promotes content. If you have a home with a Zillow 3D home tour, it will get bumped up in their search for an entire week as soon as it is published. Those seven days of premium placement on Zillow can be a huge game-changer for properties, and the thing that the 360° tours accomplish, which most photos cannot, is that they are still able to show the relationship between rooms.
There's also a surprisingly helpful boost in understanding the property through the tours in spite of their modest visual quality. When using the app, we can tell that the beautiful photographs we have taken of properties are suddenly even that much more helpful when paired with a Zillow 3D tour; they help viewers understand the context of the rooms and layout a lot better. And, these links can be repurposed on any other site that has a field for a link (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). With the tours starting at $75 for a simple tour with 5-10 panos, this is an additional marketing boost at an awesome price and efficiency for a broker on a budget. We will continue to sell our clients on premium tours, but there is no reason that any property marketer would not list their home on Zillow and include a 3D tour now that the platform has integrated it so well.
Please contact us today to learn more or to add the new Zillow 3D Home Tour service to your booking!
Earlier this year I started a facebook group called "Real Estate VR/AR News". We now have 70 members, and I am always looking for great content to post there and to share what I find with others. Everyone is welcome and invited to join the group - realtors, content creators, real estate marketers. You can definitely learn something from each of the posts and I'm happy to share all sorts of fun experiments such as this one from a recent listing in Berkeley, CA for which I created an XR virtual tour on Facebook!
In May 2018 Emily Olman was the recipient of a grant from the Bosch Foundation to bring 10 global executives from various fields to immerse themselves in VR/AR for the 3-day conference in Santa Clara, CA. To inquire about the full itinerary and the program outcomes, please contact us via email!
It was without a doubt a huge highlight of the month of January to fly out to D.C. and to spend the day with so many other professionals who are vested in real estate and architectural visualization using VR and AR. I’m super-grateful for the work of Bob Fine, who put together an incredible event. Wonderful people, lovely venue, and lots of very stimulating proposals for how to work with VR from a previsualization standpoint, as well as new ways to approach reality capture. Thanks also to Chris Petracco from TrustedPhotoDC for joining for the day. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to meet with everyone in person. I have to put a shout out to Samantha Wolfe who was also there, author of Marketing New Realities, and I hope we stay in touch! I’m also very happy that the Spatial Utility: Lessons from 3D/VR/AR for Real Estate presentation went well, and I am pleased to announce I’ll be heading to Vancouver, B.C. to present that at the end of the month. Exciting times!