Orlando real estate agent Sean Frank has crafted an interactive, virtual landscape of downtown Orlando and some of its residential properties by combining old-school 3-D photography with Google’s simulation technology to lure potential buyers and sellers.
Frank is mailing out fliers with those red-and-blue, cardboard 3-D glasses and an Internet link to a photo gallery so people can view Orlando landmarks, including Lake Eola’s iconic fountain and Chinese pagoda, that seem to pop from the screen.
But the real eye-opener is his link to a virtual tour of the Sanctuary condominium tower, seamlessly stitched together from thousands of high-resolution 3-D images and incorporated into Google’s Street View technology.
Visitors can explore the building’s event venues and stand on a penthouse balcony to take in daytime and evening views of downtown Orlando from atop the 18-story high-rise.
The 3-D virtual tour, which doesn’t require the glasses, is an innovative, high-tech approach to marketing real estate – commercial and residential – to local and out-of-state investors in Orlando’s competitive market.
“It’s difficult to imagine a floor plan unless you physically visit the property,” said the 28-year-old Frank, owner of uOwn Real Estate. “In our tours, you will already feel familiar with the property. It’s something that is unmatched in the industry.”
Frank, who is working on patenting the technology, plans to offer the interior and exterior 3-D virtual tours for listings priced at more than $200,000. Listings of more than $500,000 will have their own Internet domain.
“It’s something that buyers will be showing their friends and family,” Frank said.
He and others say his idea has potential, especially for buyers and sellers interested in downtown’s pricey high-rise condominiums. Overall, condo sales in the Orlando area are down, but high-end units downtown are hot right now: Orlando Regional Realtor Association records show more million-dollar condos sold in the Orlando area in March than during the previous three years combined.
Local industry leaders say real estate agents are not taking full advantage of technology to sell properties by attracting buyers in search of that wow factor.
“Most agents take pictures and video using their iPhone or HD camera and call it a virtual tour. It’s not,” said Joe Adkins, chairman of the Orlando Realtors’ technology committee. “We are working with investors who never step foot inside a property – everything is done on the Internet. Something an agent can get online with that ‘cool factor’ will help them stand out.”
But others in the real estate business say the Orlando market is years from a time when 3-D virtual tours will serve as an agent’s sole selling point.
Cristian Michaels, director of sales and marketing for the Vue at Lake Eola – which has a 3-D rendering designed by Toronto-based 3D Condo Explorer Inc. – said agents in Miami and Canada already use similar technology because they are in an aggressive “pre-sale” mode.
“You have investors in Canada who are selling out units in condos before they’re even launched,” Michaels said. “In Miami, there are international buyers who might not be able to travel but are willing to see the property as a 3-D model and invest.”
He said 3-D virtual tours are tools that will become more popular in Orlando “down the road.”
“It’s an incredible tool for a buyer without a broker to see what’s available,” he said. “We won’t have that sale velocity until five or seven years.”
Source: The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.), Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, Walter Pacheco. Staff writer Mary Shanklin contributed to this report. Distributed by MCT Information Services.