3-D Real Estate Tours with Matterport Camera

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Springs Homes just became the first real estate company in Colorado Springs to own “The Matterport Camera”. We have started to use the “Matterport Camera” to create 3-D spaces of our for-sale listings. We are then able to share these spaces online with potential home buyers.

The “Matterport Camera” is a combination camera and measuring device. It scans and measures spaces as it takes pictures. Springs Homes has been at the cutting edge of residential real estate technology from the early days of the internet, 1997 to be exact. We were early adopters of Virtual Tour technology when it was difficult to implement, we jumped into producing videos of our listings when it wasn’t easy to implement either. The “Matterport Camera” changes the game, this technology is very straightforward to use and the results are easy to implement.

The camera weighs 6.5 lbs. and has a rechargeable battery which lasts 8 to 10 hours. A 2,000-square foot residential real estate shoot takes 45 minutes to an hour, so battery life is not an issue. The camera has six lenses and six sensors and sits on a regular tripod. The camera has a small internal motor which allows it to rotate 360 degrees for each scan. You communicate with the camera through a wireless connection to a tablet on the matterport app.

matterport camera

Once the camera is setup and you are shooting, the app walks you through putting the space together. After each scan, the camera sends its data back to the app, which then aligns the scan and displays a photographic representation of the floorplan. If the camera doesn’t have enough information the app shows a black space in those areas where it needs more data.

matterport camera interface

We generally move the camera 5 to 8 feet in between scans. As you are scanning the operator must mark mirrors and windows, this helps the camera understand how to treat these surfaces. This is important because the camera sees through windows, so it tries to incorporate what it sees outside into the 3D model. By marking the windows, the app knows to ignore what it sees outside when compiling the floorplan. We deal with the outside by using 360-degree views.

Once the entire interior space has been scanned, the “Matterport Camera” has a feature called “360-view”. This enables the user to go outside and photograph a 360-degree image of the outdoor spaces, this is done without scanning for walls. This comes in handy during the post-production phase. You can start your tour outside showing the neighborhood or landscaping features. During the post-production phase, we are then able to link back to the indoor space.

Once you finish the entire project, the tablet is disconnected from the camera and re-connected to the internet. At this point, we upload the project to Matterports servers. Once uploaded, the images are processed and the basic tour is produced. It’s important to talk about the quality of the images this camera produces, they are really nice! The camera shoots 7 exposure brackets and turns them into HDR images. This is why the windows are not “blown out” except in extremely bright conditions. The stitching, white balance and color correction are all handled by matterport so the scans look balanced and consistent.

The tour is ready for further editing and or release in a couple of hours after upload. We work in an online app called Matterport Workshop in order to tag our tours as well as build engaging walkthroughs.

Details Page

"The Details Page" is the first place we look when we start to work on creating a finished Matterport Space. Details allows us to add the correct and complete address, our company details, website URL as well as a brief description of the property. “Details” is also where you setup your preferred sharing options as well as get the URL’s and embed codes you’ll need when you’re ready to distribute your tour.

This section is also where you go to see how your space is performing. The “Space Statistics” shows you analytical data like; the number of impressions (An impression is registered when someone views a page containing a 3D Showcase or clicks on a public 3D Showcase link), “Visits” (A visit is registered when a Space loads successfully) and “Unique Visitors” (Number of distinct users who visited this 3D Showcase one or more times).

These statistics become important as you look for the most effective ways to promote your spaces. We would really like to be able to see where the visitors came from and how long they stayed. This feature might exist but we have yet to find it.

Post Production in the Workshop

The real post production work gets done in the "Matterport Workshop". This is a robust web-based editor that allows you to refine the user experience.

The first option available in this app is the ability to set the start location of your 3D model. This is the same image as your "Hero Image"(the image that the user sees before the space loads).

Start positions can consist of the following scenes:

  • Any position in the inside view of the space. This is accomplished by moving to the desired location and selecting the “Update Start Location” button.
  • Dollhouse View-This is the iconic Matterport view (see below).

doll house

  • Floorplan View-This is a flat photograph of the actual floorplan.

floorplan view

  • 360 º View-These are individual 360 º images usually taken of outdoor spaces. You can use these images if you would like to start your tour outside or show backyard spaces as well as landscaping.

 

The space will show a white translucent circle at each point you set the tripod to take a scan. There are times when you may take too many scans in an attempt to get better coverage. The downside to this is your space can end up with a distractingly large number of scan circles. The workshop will let you hide those extra scans, creating a cleaner space. 

The workshop also lets you build a guided tour. These tours move quickly through the property and give the user a good overview of the house. The user can stop the tour and investigate an area at any time by simply clicking and dragging on the space and relaunch the tour by clicking the play button.

Guided tours are built by taking “Snapshots” of the areas you want to include in your tour. Once you have compiled all your desired snapshots, you simply drag them into a “Highlight Reel” in the specific order you want them to appear in your tour. The guided tour automatically moves you through the Highlight Reel by simply pressing play.

Another valuable feature found in the Workshop is the ability to tag things. These are named “Matter Tags”. Matter Tags appear in the space as a small bullseye. When the viewer clicks on the bullseye, they see a description of the tagged item. These tags also allow you to add links to more in-depth information. We think these are really valuable, they allow us to provide as much additional detail as we need without visually cluttering up our tours.

 Floorplans are another feature we find useful. One of the view options in the Matterport viewer is “Floorplan”. This provides an overhead photographic view of each level of the property. The look is admittedly a little rough but the user will certainly get the gist of how the floorplan looks. We have experimented with taking snapshots of floorplans, downloaded a JPEG version of them and then used the image to trace the floorplan in something like Illustrator or Floorplanner.com. We then export or save them as image files and post them to the MLS and our website. If you don’t want to do the floorplan yourself, there is an option to have Matterport create a floorplan for an additional fee.

The workshop has other features that we frankly haven’t had time to tap into like Virtual Reality settings and the ability to measure rooms. We are also experimenting with using the guided tour function to create videos. Look for more on this in future articles.

We have had the Matterport Camera for a couple of weeks now and feel like we are just beginning to tap into its potential. This was a great purchase and we can’t wait to do more with it. To see a collection of our Matterport Tours, visit: https://www.springshomes.com/.

 

 

 

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The Value of Colorado Springs Farmers Markets

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It’s not news to any of us that summer is here. We’re getting more consistent sunshine here on the front range. AND we just enjoyed a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend. I hope you got the chance to enjoy time on your favorite trail in town...take in a picnic or some reading at a local park...spend time in the mountains...run the BolderBoulder...catch up on some DIY projects around the house...grill out in your backyard...

Whatever you did this past weekend, not only was it gorgeous but it was the beginning of... ALL THINGS SUMMER! Can I get a big shout out!?!

Summer in Colorado Springs is grand. I’m not one to have a favorite season. I love them all for the wonderful and distinct features they each offer. In summer, I love getting outside as much as possible. I crave time in the mountains and on lakes throughout the state. The long days and cool nights are the best! I’m sure you have your favorite things too.

One of the best parts of summer is access to local produce and other Colorado local products available at farmers markets all around the Colorado Springs area. We have some fantastic markets in nearly every corner of the Pikes Peak Region. You could hit up a different market every day and get a tour of the town. How fun!? You could even make it fun summer bucket list - visit all of the available farmer's markets in town!

Why Farmers Markets Matter

Some people might think, why not just hit up your local grocery store? Besides getting a chance to combine being outside and visiting different parts of town, it’s also incredibly valuable to support local farmers and other local merchants! Did you know that your dollars go further in our community’s economy when you shop and eat at locally owned business?

Another enjoyable part of farmers markets is the chance to meet friends and neighbors...whether it’s just you or you bring the whole family. What a fantastic activity on a Saturday morning or since the kids are out of school...any ‘ole day of the week. You can hang out in your own neighborhood in town and interact and buy products from the people who live nearby. Or try visiting a new area and explore its local parks, restaurants, and coffee shops before or after your time at the farmers market. You will be supporting the people and the produce of that community.

Other Thoughts on the Value of Local Farmers Markets

I have always been a fan of farmers markets, but I thought I would see what others have to say about them. I reached out to some folks I know around the community about why farmers markets are a valuable part of our community and here is what they said. 

“Farmers markets help to connect rural and urban communities and thus are an invaluable piece of civic architecture. They are a vibrant spot for our neighborhoods, they signal the value that Coloradoans put on local food, help to keep these dollars in our state, and preserve our precious farmland. Moreover, having these markets helps community members who may have difficulty accessing fresh fruits and vegetables through programs like Double-UP food bucks, where every dollar becomes 2 when spent on meat, produce, etc. at these markets -- this is not available at grocery stores.”

Michelle Larkins, Ph.D., Food & Environmental Sustainability Researcher, Colorado Springs Food Rescue

“I like spending Saturday mornings at the market with my kids. They gain a better understanding of where our food comes from and why it's valuable. Meeting farmers and planning our meals based on what's available keeps us grounded and in touch with the realities of our sustaining resources. It's real life, real food, and real people. We need bits of that in our modern world. The farmer's markets are gifts all over our city each summer for those who will go out and enjoy all offer!”

Niki Parks, Local Colorado Springs Resident, Gleneagle

"Farmers market season is exciting because we get to experience the bounty of our local region. From the Pueblo Chile to Rocky Ford melons, we have rich and diverse agriculture in southern Colorado. By buying local produce, you are supporting family farms and strengthening our community. Palmer Land Trust partners with farmers to ensure our region has a vibrant local food base, resilient farming communities, and protected land and water resources."

Rebecca Jewett, Executive Director, Palmer Land Trust

"Shopping at markets that sell locally sourced food provides a valuable outlet for farmers who are mostly small, family operations. Their fruits, vegetable, cheeses and other products retain the flavor and nutritional value that is lacking in supermarket products. Do something good for yourself, your family and your community and buy locally produced foods."

Matt Heimerich, Lower Arkansas Valley Conservation Director, Palmer Land Trust

Go Meet A Farmer!

So, get outside this summer (and into the fall at some markets!) and meet a farmer. Enjoy a slow Saturday morning picking out some Palisade peaches or finding that perfect Pueblo chile or scoop up some local honey. Yum!! And at every market, you’ll find local and regional vendors offering other creative, unique products for your kitchen as well as your home in general. Right in your own neighborhood!

Colorado Springs Area Farmers Market Schedule

Here’s a rundown of the Colorado Springs farmers markets that might be around you. Some markets opened this past Memorial Day weekend. Others will be opening throughout June. Some only go through the summer. Others will run through the fall. So, make sure to check the links, if provided, to get more details on dates and to stay in touch as markets will make last minute changes for holidays, weather, etc. Hope you find your local, neighborhood market! And enjoy the adventure of another neighborhood’s market features.

I frequent farmer's markets a lot during the summer, so if you see me browsing around, stop and say hi and we can talk a little about zucchini recipes and the latest about the Colorado Springs Real Estate Market.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturdays

Sunday

Other helpful links to get information on farmers markets in the Pikes Peak region as well as around the state.

https://www.springsfarmersmarkets.com/

http://www.colorado.com/co/food-wine-beer/farmorchardsfarmers-markets

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Things to Do in Colorado Springs this Weekend (May 27-May 28)

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Memorial Day Weekend is here! Thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve our country. This holiday weekend also marks the unoffical time for gardeners to "safely" plant their gardens without the threat of freezing temperatures (although this is Colorado...and don't forget about hail). Here are some fun and free things to do in Colorado Springs this Memorial Day Weekend!


Things to Do This Weekend

Territory Days - Old Colorado City

Admission: Free. Memorial Day Weekend means it's the 42nd annual Territory Days in Old Colorado City! Enjoy food, shopping, Wild West gunfighters, music, gold panning, and more at a much-loved Colorado Springs tradition.  For more info, visit: Old Colorado City.


Archery Day - Sat May 27, 10:00am - 2:00pm, Bear Creek Regional Park Argus Blvd.


Admission: Free. Don't miss this free archery intro class. Ages 6+ For more info, visit: El Paso County website.


'Steamorphics, The Art of Steampunk' - Sat May 27, 11:00am - 5:00pm, Royal Contemporary 120 E. Main St.

Admission: Free. Feed your imagination by viewing these Steampunk time machines, air ships, paranormal devices, and other pieces. Last day for this exhibit.  For more info, visit: Royal Contemporary website.


MeadowGrass Music Festival - Sun May 28, 11:00am - 10:00pm, La Foret Conference & Retreat Center 6145 Shoup Rd.

Admission: $50.00/person for Sunday only plus parking. 9th annual MeadowGrass Music Festival featuring more than 20 musicians, workshops, yoga, activities for kids, and camping. For more info, visit: MeadowGrass website.


Man of La Mancha - Sun May 28, 2:00pm, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center 30 W. Dale St.

Admission: $20-$45/person. Enjoy this classic performance of Man of La Mancha at the Fine Arts Center opening weekend. For more info, visit: Fine Arts Center.

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The Importance of a Buyer's Walk Through!

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As a Realtor, I have learned many lessons through the ins and outs of closing so many home sales over the years. This story is a recent one, which will stay with me for a long time and I thought that it was important to share in hopes that potential home buyers or home sellers might avoid this pitfall by taking some good real estate advice. 

In the Colorado residential purchase contract for real estate, it states in paragraph 19.4 that the buyer has the right to a final walk-through of the property to verify condition before closing. This story demonstrates why a walk through after a home purchase is so important and why after this incident I NEVER allow my buyer to close without one!

Meet my home buyer, David

It was summer of 2006, a warm sunny day in Colorado Springs and I had a closing to attend that afternoon. My buyer, David, lived in California and would not be present for his closing.  So I offered to drive to his new house and do a quick walk through on his behalf. I pulled up to the large 2-story home, which had been vacant for five days. I opened the front door and walked through the grand entryway into the large living room. All seemed fine so far. I past through the dining room which had wall to wall hardwood floors, and I stepped into the kitchen.

Funny, I noticed a large puddle of water sat on the kitchen floor right around the refrigerator. I thought it seemed strange that the sellers didn't clean that up! I grabbed some nearby paper towels and bent down to blot up the standing water. The towels quickly absorbed the water, taking in much more than I had estimated. In fact, the floors were soaked. The entire kitchen floor, all hardwood was completely drenched. I could feel the ripples of the warped wood beneath my hands as I crawled around trying to assess the damage. The water had traveled through the kitchen and into the dining room whose wood floors were also rippled. Carpets in the nearby living room and family rooms were all soaked. Water was everywhere. 

Could it get any worse?!

But the problem didn't stop there. Underneath me was a finished basement, complete with rec room, bedroom, and a finished bathroom. That included carpet and drywall and paint and light fixtures and baseboards and doors, etc. I walked my way downstairs, not knowing what to expect . By now I could hear running water. As my foot finally touched the bottom step, my feet were submerged in a good two inches of standing water. It was everywhere. It was pouring from the ceiling, from that main level upstairs. Large sections of wet sheetrock dangled from the floor joists above. Water was even running through the light fixtures. 

I waded through the damaged remains of this finished basement until I could find the mechanical room. I opened that door only to find more standing water, puddling around the furnace and the water heater. I went to every shut off valve I could find and turned off every bit of water in the home. Gradually that stopped some of the leaking. I then proceeded to call my buyer and let him know that he would not be closing today. I called the seller's agent and informed her of the bad news. Closing would be postponed.

The Damage Assessment

The Selling Agent and the sellers were very good about getting the appropriate contractors and trades to the house right away. They assessed the damage and determined it would cost $26,000 to repair and restore the home. The source of our problem? A small water line to the refrigerator which had burst after the sellers had vacated. It had been pouring water into the house for days.

The Lesson Learned

Had I not spent that extra bit of time and done a walk through, David would have owned that damage and all the costs involved in fixing it. As a new homeowner, this type of responsibility is both financially and emotionally devastating. So I pass this lesson on to you. ALWAYS do a final walk through. ALWAYS!!! Read more about final walkthroughs and let me know if you have any follow-up questions.

 

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Selling Your Home: A Little Prep Goes a Long Way!

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 So, you've decided to sell your home. Let the party begin!

Selling your home can stir up a variety of emotions and can affect each family member in different ways. But once you've decided that selling is really going to happen, it takes a bit of mental toughness to dive into those tasks that need to be completed to ensure your home will appeal to the largest number of buyers.

One thing to keep in mind is what I heard Dave Ramsey say in one of his seminars; when you decide to sell your home, you must act as if "You no longer live there!".

Here are some home selling tips that will increase your chances of a selling your home fast.

Think Like a Customer

Just like a retail manager, occasionally you need to step back and assess your environment. Pretend you are looking at your home for the first time. What do you see that needs your attention? Take a good hard look at your home from the street, the backyard and then every room. How does it measure up?

Consider the following hints for staging your home to sell:

What Does Your Home Look Like from the Street?

Buyers can tell quickly if a home shows pride of ownership. Your home may not be the newest one on the block but it can be well maintained. It only takes one glance to form an opinion. Clean out the gutters, trim any overgrown foliage, and prune trees properly. The yard should be mowed regularly in season and edged to give it a sharp appearance including the backyard. Pick up any trash, leaves or debris as soon as it appears and put away the toys. Make sure screens and shutters are in great shape and touch up any faded or peeling paint.

Declutter Your Home

Let's be honest. We all own too much stuff! Go through every room, closet, drawer and cabinet and remove approximately 30-50% of the items. Don't forget the garage, attic and the backyard. Host a yard sale or donate items you no longer need. Even if you just can't part with certain things, box it up and store it off-site. This will create the impression of a more spacious home. And believe me, your buyers are going to look into every area to see if your home will work for them. And they need to be able to inspect plumbing under the sinks and other systems in mechanical closets. You're going to be moving soon anyway, why not let go of those items you aren't using?

The Entryway is the First Impression

A prospective buyer gets a good impression while waiting for their agent to access the lockbox. Remove any cobwebs, add a nice welcome mat, clean the door and light fixtures and touch up the trim. Ornamental items and plants should be kept to a minimum and make sure all the glass sparkles. This is an easy area to maintain and can create an impressive welcome for your guests!

Scale the Furniture to the Room

Remove any over-sized or bulky furniture to open up every room of your home. Don't crowd any windows, doorways or main walking areas. Your home should flow well and feel airy and spacious.

Depersonalize and Make Appealing

Remove family photos or special collections and replace them with more generic but tasteful accessories that reflect current trends. Repaint rooms that have extremely unique colors to more neutral tones. Most of the time this can be done without a lot of cost. If you don't know what to do, ask for help from someone who can add that special touch and is not afraid to give you an honest opinion.

Main Focus: Bathrooms/Kitchens

Kitchens and baths sell homes so make them sparkle everyday! After you have cleaned out from under the sinks and thinned out the cabinets, clean all glass, tubs, showers, floors, countertops, baseboards and behind major appliances. Remove bottles and toiletry items from tubs and showers and store them out of site. Eliminate extra items from the counters to make them appear larger. It is a good idea to wipe down the shower or tub after each use so that they are dry when your buyers are visiting.

Free Some Space: Closets and cabinets

Remove about half of the items in these areas. Take all of your off-season clothing and put into storage and clean out extra shoes and clutter from the floor so that the entire closet seems roomy. Cabinets should be neat and well organized so that buyers can see the actual space and not a lot of extra stuff!

Garages Need Love Too

In spite of what most people think, garages are for cars! Not overflow for items you just can't part with. Make sure you can actually park your vehicles inside. This will go a long way in showing the functionality and convenience of your home. Clear out any cobwebs, sweep the floors and clean up any oil or fluid stains. Outdoor tools should be kept at a minimum and be stored neatly into racks so that the floor space and walkways are not blocked. If your breaker box is located in this area be sure there is a clear pathway for access and that nothing is blocking doorways or windows. Make sure that automatic doors are functioning properly.

Hide Your Pets and Their Accessories

Not everyone is a pet lover so you must think like that. Make sure your pets are placed in a secure area that won't hinder your buyer from viewing your property. If possible, take them off-site during showings. Make sure your home is free from pet odor and hair and store feeding bowls and beds out of site.

Miscellaneous – Make sure all lighting is functional so that every room is bright. Doorbells, appliances, smoke detectors and exhaust fans should be in working order. Windows and doors should open and close properly and lubricate those creaky hinges. Check water faucets for drips and repair if needed. Drains should flow freely and the garbage disposal should be in good working order as well. Your buyer is going to order a home inspection in most cases so you may as well address these items on the front end.

While this may seem like a lot of work, you must keep the end goal in mind. And that is to get your home sold as quickly as possible and for the best price. Make your home easy to show and a joy to view. For more home selling tips, check out our selling section, or give me a call. You won't regret the results!

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