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High-Tech Realtors Take Prospective Home Buyers On Virtual Reality Tour

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A new kind of real estate open house is eliminating the need to step through the front door of a home to tour it, replacing it with 360-degree virtual reality and 3-D images.

Many Bay Area realtors are turning to Silicon Valley virtual reality company Matterport to help sell properties to international or out-of-state buyers.

If you have your own set of VR goggles or get one from your realtor, you can walk through realtor Payton Stiewe's $2.6 million, 3-bedroom San Francisco Pacific Heights home currently on the market.

"It's basically the open house that's 24/7 these days," said Stiewe. "And with virtual reality, a potential buyer can really walk through the property see the layout, understand how the orientation is, before they even come to see the property in person."

"I think the big thing is the buyer gets some control over the experience, over when they get to experience the property," said Matterport CEO Bill Brown. "Because there's a complete accurate copy, you aren't relying on the agent to have captured the right kinds of pictures and you're not reliant on your memory."

Brown says his firm has scanned more than 250,000 properties worldwide, 10,000 of them right here in the Bay Area.

Matterport's technology is so easy to use, agents can buy the camera for $4,500, place it in any room, and turn it on, and with one button on an iPad, scan the entire room.

Luxury real estate broker Roh Habibi and star of Bravo TV's "Million Dollar Listing" most recently used Matterport to sell a $4.2 million off-market home in San Francisco to a buyer in Shanghai.

"It's crazy," said Habibi. "It's just something unheard of, the fact that someone saw these - they wanted to park money in a safe haven like San Francisco and they ended up buying a property, not necessarily sight unseen anymore because now they've done the 3D tour."

Most of Habibi's listings using VR are unique, high-end listings. "Right now in my car, I have Oculus goggles, with all my VRs in there," said Habibi. "So if I'm going to a networking event, or I'm going to a dinner with a client or anything of that nature I have something handy without me and I can just pop it out and say put these on, I want to show you a couple of these properties."

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