On our blog, we have often proposed hot and high-tech topics such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented (AR), 360 ° photos and videos, virtual tours, three-dimensional floor plans. Even today we propose the same topic again, since we have reached one of the co-founders of ImmobilTour, a new reality which, having entered the Italian Real Estate ecosystem, proposes to take another step more, by inserting the virtual tour inside of a complete service to the customer also from the purely technical point of view of the properties, but in any case aimed at the sale.
An ambitious and wide-ranging project that of Marco Pigliacampo and his staff, who from Pesaro thanks to the innovative start-up ImmobilTour aim to bring innovation to the real estate sector. The goal is to simplify the process of real estate transactions, also offering specialized services such as the control of the mandatory bureaucratic formalities for the sale, up to the restructuring proposals.
First of all, we thank you for granting us this interview, Marco. But now tell us: how did the idea of ImmobilTour come about?
About two years ago, we current founding partners were collaborators with an engineering company. One day, Luca, who is passionate about travel and photography, brings a dual lens camera to work that could take spherical photos, telling me he would use it for the next trip.
At the time I was looking for a house, a nightmare, links to dozens and dozens of properties saved on the PC notepad, unlimited minutes of phone calls and above all a lot of time wasted visiting houses that did not correspond to the requests (one less room, no cellar, one balcony), then turning to Luca I say: “And if we used your camera for the houses for sale? After work I wouldn’t waste an hour to get to the appointment, only to see a house that doesn’t interest me. If the real estate agent or the owner sent me the 360 photos by email or via Whatsapp, I would look at them from the comfort of my home “. Luca replied: “I could do the 3D floor plans and renderings”, we looked at each other, we smiled and we understood that it could be a great idea!
Tell us in a few words what ImmobilTour is and what is the added value you intend to bring to users.
Our strength is not so much taking 360 ° photos of the buildings, but a virtual tour with a referenced 3D floor plan that corresponds to the actual state of the property: the visitor can “navigate” between the rooms of the property in complete autonomy, being able to orient with the 3D plan of each floor. Our Technical Staff is also able to offer complete technical services (document checks, conformity checks …), guaranteeing a fast and safe sale.
For each property we create a dedicated page, where the user can upload documents and manage the agenda of visits and inspections, making the back-end workflow very fast and effective. In addition, we also try to enhance the property with intervention proposals, on those properties that need a renovation.
The Virtual Reality market is booming. Billion-dollar acquisitions of start-ups are on the agenda and, according to Goldman Sachs, the virtual reality market alone will be worth $ 80 billion globally by 2025. How do you intend to differentiate yourself in such a crowded market?
We are in the midst of a digital revolution and virtual reality integrated into devices is a very powerful tool. We at ImmobilTour do not measure ourselves on how to produce virtual tours (the best image quality using the best-performing machines and software), but on the use made of them and on this point we believe we are differentiating ourselves.
In the main Italian real estate portals, virtual tours or simply 360 ° photos of poor quality are often used, through which it is however impossible to orient oneself, they only serve to index a property already sponsored. In fact, in most cases the VT is not clearly visible in the search, therefore the portals become functional only for the large number of properties they host, rather than for the contribution of technological innovation.
We believe that the virtual tour should be the main tool for promoting the property, its showcase, because if well done it allows the visitor to avoid visits to properties in which he is not interested, and the seller to rationalize the visits. We create a dedicated page for each property, where it is possible to visit it in Virtual Reality mode and subsequently check its description and additional information.
Even if it involves a greater amount of work than our competitors, we believe that the 3D floor plan with the automatic references of each environment is the “compass” to orient oneself in a virtual tour. Floorplan and 360 photos must never be separated, in fact it happens even when you physically visit a property that we need a floorplan (possibly legible, not everyone is a technician who can read a cadastral plan) to realize the distribution of the rooms.
What is your experience in the Italian real estate market and how do you think it will evolve in the near future?
When we looked for a house in the traditional way, using real estate portals and agencies, it was very demanding: a lot of time is wasted, and the offer of properties to date is enormous. As professionals, we work in the construction world as technicians, we have found that on average 7 out of 10 properties have urban and cadastral discrepancies, so much so that sometimes a sale can be postponed for a few months, thanks to greater checks by banks and notaries, and this leads to considerable inconvenience to unsuspecting individuals. It must also be remembered that over 70% of the properties have more than 40 years of life and that they need to be renovated, so you have to do the math well before buying it.
The future of the real estate market must necessarily pass through technological innovation. In the past, this transition took place from paper to the web, then from websites to real estate portals. The result was enormous exposure and visibility, sector operators saturated the portals with real estate, reducing sales efficiency. In real estate portals, one property is as good as another, the only discriminating factors are price and location, the kilometric descriptions are not even seen by the average user who is captured by the property in less than 3 seconds from the “showcase photo”. Demand, in recent years, has always been constant, but households’ ability to purchase has decreased due to difficulties in accessing credit and few savings.
In our view, the use of integrated web technology is the upgrade of real estate portals and 360 photos with floor plans, the evolution of cadastral plans and wide-angle photos. The real estate market will no longer suffer from price spikes and speculative bubbles, the financial crisis has put the banking sector in difficulty. Without access to credit, it is inevitable that prices must decrease because purchasing power is low, so brokers have to sell many more properties at a lower price to match the pace of 10 years ago, having much more costs, see the portals and the many visits before concluding the sale.
In your opinion, what are the benefits that ImmobilTour, in addition to the entire Virtual Reality market, can bring to Italian real estate agents?
ImmobilTour allows the entire supply chain to save time, especially for those who sell the property. As we said we are technicians, so we immediately report if any discrepancies arise that would invalidate the sale. We believe that our virtual tour can filter all people who are not interested in the distribution of the rooms or who have no budget to be able to renovate it, since we also offer a renovation proposal as a service.
At the moment we consider ourselves an additional “multichannel”, in the sense that our properties are accessible via a dedicated link anywhere (from real estate portals, via email, via Whatsapp, from the agency’s website, etc …): we do not replace traditional channels, but we integrate smoothly with them. Our way of working and the workflow to conclude the service is well structured and we do not ask agents to anticipate investments in equipment or binding subscriptions, we think about the single property and we also take on the burden of taking spherical photos, in such a way as to create a service that is as homogeneous as possible.
What types of customers is your service aimed at?
Our service is aimed at all those subjects who are in some way involved in the sale of any property (both for residential and commercial use): private individuals, real estate agencies, entities, companies, etc … In our opinion, the service can have outlets also in the tourism sector, in particular the hotel sector, in which there is strong parallelism with the real estate sector. In fact, we rely almost exclusively on visibility on the portals and, apart from luxury hotels, a sector that will hardly ever suffer a crisis, all the rest of the available offer is in strong competition.
From the point of view of the product, have you already started the trials and possible partnerships? What results have you achieved and what are your goals for the years to come?
The platform is online and we have finished the prototyping phase, we are now in the testing phase to improve workflows. As a partnership, we have initiated contacts with two important real estate companies that have understood the importance of our services.
In the next two years we will collect contracts and agreements, our goal is to break through the private market, which at the moment are the ones who appreciate our services the most, to attract real estate agents even more. Our method of sharing the apartment through multichannel links allows a very important collaboration and speed of exchange with agents.
The real estate agents who frequent our blog are always particularly curious about promotion strategies. With ImmobilTour which channels do you manage and how do you operate at the marketing level?
Marketing is an investment with high potential and consequently high risk, which can make a lot as well as it can lead to losing a lot of money. In our view, strategies should be diversified just as we do for savings. Look at what is happening on the portals: it is no longer enough to pay a lot to be among the first 5 ads, which at most you can do for the most attractive properties, and unfortunately, you do not have the possibility to automatically profile those who ask to see the immobile. All this translates into unprofitable visits, as those who came to see the property, even if profiled later, only realize on site that certain characteristics are not suitable for their needs.
With ImmobilTour, first of all, a link is managed that can be sent in response to any request (email, direct message …), the virtual tour can be integrated on the agency’s website and therefore indexable for Google SEO campaigns, it can be posted on social networks and then index the paid target audience. We can create a small video preview, and then insert it as content on YouTube and social impact like Instagram, finally it is possible to view the VT directly from real estate portals. In practice, the channels and audience can be differentiated as much as possible, without being overwhelmed by inconclusive visits and requests as we believe that our VT is able to encourage those who are truly interested and discourage those who are not.
The goal must be to sell the property to those who are looking for it as soon as possible, and not hope to do so by managing impressive numbers of people who will not buy it: after all, only one person buys the property, the one who is looking for it!
As a start-up do you consider yourself a born global or do you intend to specialize only on the Italian market, if not in certain areas of Italy?
At the moment we are oriented exclusively on the national territory, which is not yet in a particularly helpful attitude in trying to improve the state of – pass me the term – “Real Estate Jungle”. We were born precisely in response to the complexity of the real estate sector, and complicating our life is a typical Italian thing. I would like to underline that we are technicians, in addition to visual impact services we offer professional services to support the sale. Only after passing through it do you know how many obligations you have to meet before the sale and until the problem arises you are completely unaware (cadastral compliance, urban planning compliance, amnesties, APE, original deed of sale, compromise, taxes, stamps, etc …), therefore we operate precisely in response to the particularity of our country.
Undoubtedly, other states will also have similar problems, but certainly less complicated than our legislation: if we become good at complicated things we will surely know how to deal with the simpler things well. For the moment we focus on becoming an important Italian reality, then we believe that our format, adaptable to other legislation, is exportable.