The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the real estate industry into the technological fast lane. In a matter of just months, the business went from touch and feel to Zoom calls, virtual tours and 3D experiences.
As The Real Deal previously reported, the market for creating 3D digital models across all property types will explode from roughly $4 billion to almost $36 billion by 2025, a report by the research firm MarketsandMarkets projected. That demand is expected to skyrocket this fall and winter, as NYC Department of Buildings construction delays due to coronavirus end. Developers and brokers will now be able to push tons of new supply into the market, and the race to virtualize that inventory will be on.
But industry leaders are now discovering that not all real estate tech is built the same.
In fact, if you’ve ever taken a virtual tour of a property – whether it’s a Brooklyn rental or a $38 million spread in Miami Beach — chances are that 3D Apartment created it.
While listing services such as Zumper, Apartments.com, LoopNet, StreetEasy and CoStar, to name a few, have been scrambling to adapt their marketing strategies and platforms for virtual tours, 3D Apartment was already hosting practically all of the existing virtual scans in three major cities.
Founded by Gregory Ardbelava, CEO of 3D Apartment and its sister company Listing3D — the top producers of 3D tours in NYC, Boston and Miami — the startup has already captured more than 8,000 digital tours for over 300 landlords and developers, ranging from Boston property managers to new development buildings in NYC.
And since the pandemic struck, 3D Apartment and Listing3D are fielding hundreds of calls and email requests daily, while continuing to service about 400 clients a week in NYC alone. They are even seeing requests from marketing directors looking to virtualize amenities, lobbies, balcony views and rooftops.
“Suddenly, because of the realities of Covid, you have a lot of people jumping into the virtual tour space,” says Michael Zats, a long-time New York real estate developer and first angel investor in 3D Apartment. “These startup companies simply don’t have the resources to get it done. If you are a landlord or developer right now, you need to have your entire inventory 3D-modeled, branded and rolled out onto listing platforms like Zillow, the MLS, REBNY RLS and your company’s website overnight. We are the only game in town that can deliver like that.”
Ardbelava says that he was inspired to build the company after witnessing the rapid evolution of media and the improved affordability and usability of 3D scanners. He says that, even after Covid, the demand curve for 3D tech will only increase.
“We are pioneers in this space,” says Ardbelava, who tested the product in Boston before taking New York and Miami by storm. “We were already producing this product on a large scale for the city’s top landlords and developers four years ago. Now, we are No. 1 in the market for virtual tours. We have experience and resources that are unparalleled in the virtual tour space.”
Virtual tours also lead to fast, top-dollar sales for developers. JLL recently marketed a full-floor, 5,650-square-foot commercial cooperative at 127 West 24th Street in Chelsea using Listing3D. When the property swiftly found a buyer for $3.6 million, the company credited Listing3D with the sale.
“We were excited to show and sell this property using state-of-the-art technology,” says JLL Managing Director Brock Emmetsberger, a member of the team that oversaw the deal. “This space is an excellent investment for both investors and commercial tenants looking to customize their own space, and we were able to communicate that with Listing3D’s platform. It’s more important than ever to have virtual touring capabilities.”
Zats adds that creating a 3D virtual tour of a listing isn’t just essential for getting eyes on your property. It streamlines the entire leasing process for years to come.
“Being a landlord myself, I saw that if my rental units were virtualized, I would be able to begin marketing my units before their leases expired,” he says. “That means not worrying about access with tenants for showings or waiting for the apartment to be repainted and touched up for photography. It expedites the apartment rental process, and that translates to faster turnover and improved cash flow. I just email the virtual tour to brokers, and the applications flow in.”
Zats was an early adopter, seeing the potential of virtual marketing from the beginning. After developing a pair of adjacent luxury townhouses at 43-45 Dean Street in Boerum Hill, he was pushed into staging the properties with furniture by the marketing team.
“Staging was a waste of time and money,” he says. “If your property sits on the market, you pay these furniture staging companies like investors paying hard-money lenders. I was already thinking about premium 3D virtual tours, but that’s when I understood the real value of virtual staging as well.”
But 3D Apartment is more than virtual tours and property staging; it is also the first large-scale universal marketplace to upload virtual tours.
That means that home hunters can search for properties within a single platform rather than jumping from listing site to listing site.
It also means that developers and landlords who work with 3D Apartment can quickly download and syndicate their inventory to different real estate platforms, upload to their websites through API, link tours to MLS or upload to their brokerage’s website. 3D Apartment even has a partnership with Rentals.com that syndicates virtual leads to clients after users search and click, not to mention perks including unlimited tours, a 3D network, Listing3D Open House and marketing packages.
3D Apartment’s platform also makes sharing to social media a breeze. Clients receive embed codes, URL links and QR codes that they can use to conveniently share listings on Instagram and Facebook via their mobile devices.
“We do not charge hosting fees,” says Ardbelava, who developed 3D Apartment’s proprietary tech, including the custom-built back-end customer relationship management system (CRM). “Also, our customers at Compass, Modern Spaces, Corcoran, Dougla Elliman and Nest Seekers can customize and embed the media from our site directly to their website.”
Zats says he recognized the long-term vision for the company.
“We said NO to VC investments even when there was constant interest; it was important that we didn’t undersell ourselves,” says Zats. “In today’s new era in real estate, we are positioned to keep pushing adoption rates and creating new partnerships with other real estate platforms.”
Ardbelava says that 3D Apartment is just the beginning — that as media and technology evolve, so will the needs of the real estate industry.
“The world has progressed from flat, noninteractive images to semi-interactive video and now fully immersive 3D media,” he says. “In the near future, lasers and lidars on our phones are only going to get more powerful. Technology will only improve and open new doors. But right now, the Covid crisis has expedited the adoption of 3D media, and we are the best-positioned company out there to handle all the new demand. We will continue to provide quality, affordable pricing and quick turnaround to our clients.”