Realestate.com.au partners with 3D visualisation startup Scann3d to transform the online property ecosystem

- June 12, 2015 4 MIN READ

Australia’s biggest property portal, realestate.com.au, has joined forces with Melbourne based 3D visualisation startup Scann3d as well as property developer BPM, to transform the online property ecosystem. As a result, rather than house hunters and property investors having to rely on two-dimensional floor plans to assess the value of an investment, they can walk through an interactive virtual world and explore developments before they exist in the physical world.

Purchasing property prior to the completion of its development is becoming more and more popular. While it’s usually cheaper to invest before the property has been built, it’s also riskier because the customer is essentially investing in a concept. Before, real estate websites showed flat floor plans, which don’t give potential customers a good-enough understanding of how apartments will look and feel in the real world. What’s lacked in floor plans is the third dimension.

Scann3d’s 3D tour technology, called Plann3d, aims to enable a new generation of engaging and immersive virtual tours that allow users to better understand what they could be investing in, and ultimately decide whether it’s the right property for them.

Scann3d’s partnership with realestate.com.au is a big win for the startup as it means it can deliver 3D off-the-plan experiences to a mass consumer audience – that is, 3 million visitors, double that of Fairfax-owned domain.com.au.

Scann3d was launched in June 2014 by six co-founders: Trent Clews-de Castella, Steven Kounnas, Joseph Purdam, Alexander Ramsey, Ian Ulpiano and Patrick Ferguson. For the past 12 months, the startup has been providing 3D scanning services to residential real estate sector clients including Jellis Craig and Metricon. After visualising more than 500 homes across Australia, Scann3d’s CEO Clews-de Castella noticed a lack of support for buyers searching for properties off-the-plan.

“Everyone sees the value in 3D technology; it’s a true representation of how we interact with the physical world. There was a clear opportunity to bring this technology to the apartment development industry,” said Clews-de Castella, CEO of Scann3d.

“Our new 3D tours provide users with a greater sense of spatial awareness, placing you inside a home that does not even exist yet. These virtual experiences will continue to improve the consumer’s decision making process and help property developers such as BPM deliver better outcomes for their customers.”

REA Group, owner of realestate.com.au, recognised the potential of online 3D experiences and brought Scann3d and BPM together to collaborate on the transformation of the online property ecosystem.

“A property purchase is one of the biggest financial decisions people make in their lives. Buying off-the-plan is attractive for many people, particularly first home buyers, as it can be seen to be more affordable,” said REA Group’s CIO Nigel Dalton.

“We know that people looking to buy off-the-plan apartments can sometimes be hindered in their decision-making as they are unable to walk through it like an established property. This new technology helps consumers immerse themselves in a finished apartment, enabling them to ‘walk’ through it, to get a deeper understanding of what they’re buying.”

It’s worth noting that the partnership is strategic at this stage. REA Group has not invested in Scann3d, though Clews-de Castella said the startup is open to it.

“We are working with Australia’s leading portals to help make our content accessible to the largest audience possible. It is really a win-win co-operation, as we furnish them a cutting edge technology and they give us a good visibility,” said Clews-de Castella.

Scann3d is, however, looking to raise a $500,000 seed round. Clews-de Castella said the startup wanted to achieve sustainable and organic growth before venturing down a seed round, and is now ready to further advance its products and accelerate growth.

Scann3d’s CIO Tom Frauenfelder said future versions of the Scann3d player will strive to build a deeper and more immersive narrative for the buyer. The new player will enable users to visualise a property at any time of day, gain new insights into buyer behaviours and build custom virtual reality experiences that immerse buyers.

BPM, developer of new Melbourne development Shadow Play, is the first to offer 3D tours of off-the-plan apartments on realestate.com. au.

BPM’s Sales and Marketing Director Ashley Bramich said, “3D tours helps bridge the gap between traditional marketing and leaving it up to consumer’s imagination. Someone can now easily position themselves inside a finished apartment much in the same way that they can in existing property.”

Scann3d is not the only startup playing in the space of 3D visualisation and virtual reality. Earlier this year, Startup Daily spoke with Rebecca Lee, the founder of Perth-based startup Virtualiis, which also targets the real estate industry and offers a third-dimensional experiences to floor plans.

One of Virtualiis’ applications work in much the same way as a QR code scanner, but instead of being diverted to a URL, the user is directed to an animated and interactive virtual world. Given the startup is focusing on the real estate industry for the time being, this means that prospective customers can see a floor plan in 3D or even view a 3D model of the display home through a mobile application.

If the property advertiser wants to showcase a building in life-size 3D (as opposed to just 3D), then users will be directed to a slightly different kind of experience where their smartphone or tablet acts as their third lens. They can be standing outside the construction site with their smartphone held at arm’s or elbow’s length, and move the phone up and down or side to side to see what the building will look like in life-size.

Matthieu Thiroux, 3D specialist at Scann3d acknowledged there are other companies operating in the same space and targeting the same industry. However, he believes Scann3d’s “unique competitive advantage rests in making virtual reality experiences accessible over the web without the need to download or install any unnecessary plug-ins.”

“We differentiate ourselves through the creation of a suite of 3D software tools that help our users interact with new and emerging 3D content easily and joyfully,” Thiroux added.

When asked what the startup’s end game is, Thiroux said ultimately the team wants to build a future where anybody can experience a physical place in a virtual space. Given it’s early days, an acquisition isn’t at the forefront of their minds, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if REA Group made an acquisition offer at a later stage.

“Our first step is in motion, as we work toward a solution that helps you get an enhanced understanding of a space, how it looks, feels and most importantly, how you move throughout it. Working with technology providers like intel and Google, we hope to build groundbreaking experiences that transcend traditional 2D media,” said Thiroux.