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Immersive Property Tours On-Demand: Latest Technology Makes It Happen

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Facing pandemic-related lockdowns more than two years ago, commercial real estate was pressed to quickly develop virtual touring for its assets – from office buildings to apartments – so it could continue to do deals and leasing.

Now commonplace, it’s been a while since this approach moved to an exciting new level.

Immersive experiences have sparked innovation, leading start-up company Infinityy to develop a one-of-a-kind, real-time, customized tour that blends the familiarity and dependability of Google Street View-like visualization with a reliable, “always on” texting connection through mobile devices or laptops.

The product takes 48 hours or less to install after uploading through DropBox a community’s or property’s assets such as Matterport content, 3D images, renderings, drone footage, videos or any other visual assets. At a minimum, the property can share 2-D images.

It’s not screen-sharing, isn’t a video conferencing platform such as Zoom, and doesn’t involve watching recorded tours. It then allows for groups of people to simultaneously explore potential square footage in any property in a way not offered before.

Participants (prospective residents or tenants) are not required to schedule a tour with agents, brokers, or onsite staff. The technology enables them to sell 24-7 by having someone in place who can respond, accommodate prospects and answer their questions, and fits into today’s centralized leasing models and hybrid work structures.

To join an Infinityy room, one person shares a link via text, email or a link from their website or from their marketing messaging to another person and invites them in. Its chat feature allows communication and participants can record notes on what they see, and go back to revisit the tour later, or start a new one.

Its chat feature provides the ability to immediately communicate with the property representative – not an AI bot – to get real-time answers and allow the property representative to help guide the prospect to a decision.

Prospects Can Tour the Neighborhood, Walk to the Beach

Founder Jim Schoonmaker, an MIT graduate with 20+ years’ experience in technology start-ups, has patented the process.

Apartment operator Mike Procopio, CEO, at Boston-based Procopio Companies, began using Infinityy at his properties a few months ago. Alliance Residential, CBRE, Avison Young, and Brooke Team at eXp Realty are among others also using it.

“This is helping our staff be more productive and focus on taking care of the residents,” Procopio said. “It’s affordable ($450 per month, per community) and it’s the kind of self-service tech model that more people are wanting these days.”

“It’s more than just sharing a few photos and floor plans. We can tour them with immersive content where they can walk the space room-by-room, check out the neighborhood, and even walk right up to the nearby beach to experience what it’s like being in our location.

“We hear that apartment shoppers and available leasing office hours don’t always match. People want to tour on Saturdays, for example, and if you can’t provide that, they move onto the next property, and you lose them.”

He said 20 percent of his new residents come from outside of Boston and this is the hook that can lure those who are out of town.

Procopio is nearing a lease-up phase for a new apartment community and said using Infinityy with renderings can give prospective residents an accurate walk-through experience months ahead of time; before the shovel hits the dirt.

“People don’t want to come out and have to deal with wearing hard hats and walking the property’s dirt and framework. That’s a messy situation. Instead, they can experience the building from their phones or laptops while at home in a way unlike other virtual touring products.”

Where Phone Texts, Links and Emails Fail

Schoonmaker first tooled with visuals around 2005 when he pioneered technology that later became Google Street View. He built Everyscape, which pioneered the first street-view experience in 2006 and subsequently went on to develop market-leading solutions in travel and local search marketing using this first scalable way to experience a place online.

Corporations such as AT&T, Microsoft, NASA, Marriot, Intel, and Yellowbook used EveryScape’s technology to power their customer solutions.

The idea for Infinityy came a few years ago when he ran into difficulty while helping his daughter choose an apartment in a different city.

“She wanted me to see the apartment and get my opinion,” he said. “It became a process of emailing or texting links to properties, her texting me images and calling me. I felt like I couldn’t help her in a meaningful way.”

“We were able to see space online and we were able to talk about the space, but no one had put the two together.”

He then set out to create Infinityy, a two-year process that is now being used by more than a dozen properties since its launch in late summer.

“I look at it almost like it combines the excitement of a video game combined a bit with the interactivity of the metaverse and virtual reality (although this is not VR), without the nausea,” he said.

He said when clients are introduced to the Infinity Room that they are skeptical at first and then say, “I get it. I can’t believe something like this didn’t already exist.”

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