Real Estate

Does Zillow’s App For Online Tours Stack Up Against The Competition?

Zillow’s app for creating and publishing immersive online home tours is available to everyone — and it offers enough to make it worth a look.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Zillow 3D Home is software for creating online home tours.

Platforms: iOS app, browser
Ideal for: All agents and teams needing a tool for immersive online home tours

Top selling points:

  • Easy MLS-ready version
  • Also pairs with Ricoh Theta cameras
  • One login for existing Zillow accounts
  • Included room labels for tour creation
  • Manual review by Z staff of each tour

Top concern:

Zillow has a stigma in the industry, like it or not. Getting nonpremier agents over the hump to use this product won’t be easy.

What you should know

I think the reason why Zillow had included a communications rep on our demo of 3D Home is because I left it out of an Inman Handbook for Creating Online Tours. (She was wonderfully transparent and eager for her product rep to demonstrate the app.) I did consider including the software for the handbook, but I assumed it wasn’t available to the open market. That’s my mistake.

Understandably, as would be the case with any company, they want the market to know Zillow 3D Home is open for anyone to use. Now, how does it stand up to what else is out there? It’s about even.

Users start by entering the address of a listing. It’s likely to already have information available through Zillow, but if that’s not the case, it can be added later.

The software leverages the camera’s panoramic capture feature, and it provides a neat list of all the rooms and areas to photograph. Tap a label, go to that space, and scan it.

The app has some built-in capabilities to ensure even hand-held pans are captured smoothly as well as active alerts that advise the user to “slow down” or “keep level.”

Completed rooms are uploaded automatically to be stitched together by a Zillow-developed algorithm. Once every room is photographed, tours can be published or held for later. An email to the agent also reminds them when the property tour is ready to be published.

I like that the app prepares a version for use on multiple listing services, which for some reason all tend to stick to the bizarrely antiquated idea that stripping a brand from its members’ content is useful. Regardless, Zillow 3D Home honors the mandate.

Editing is possible if any part of the tour seems out of place or if a couple of rooms are out of order. Additionally, Zillow has an in-house team that reviews every submitted tour for quality assurance — a nice touch.

Each comes with embed code for website use and options to share to social media accounts.

The software can be used to build flat, 2D floorplans in a separate process but only when in conjunction with the Ricoh line of cameras. Given the more interactive capabilities of competitors’ floor plan features, and that most of them are created as the tour is built, I’d say this is an area Zillow needs to quickly augment. I wouldn’t bother using this feature in its current state.

Again, everything you need to create solid, shareable and worthy online home tours is here. It’s just that I think Zillow is capable of much more, as they have a lot of technology smarts at their disposable.

I was given some very nonspecific heads up that more is on the horizon for this app. I’m looking forward to it.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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