Closing the Door on Open Houses

Virtual 3-D Open Houses make house ‘visits’ safer for buyers and sellers
By EDDIE RIVERA, Weekendr Editor
Published on Mar 26, 2020

As every door closes, another opens, or so the saying goes. 

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) told its members last week, in light of coronavirus concerns,  to cease all face-to-face sales activities, including showings, listing appointments, open houses and property inspections.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also recently advised their members to  “consider the advisability of continuing to hold open houses at this time, especially in light of the guidance and actions of federal, state and local authorities.” 

Thus grows the demand for “virtual” open house viewings of properties. Buyers and sellers can now safely visit and show properties without the risk of contamination. 

And the phone keeps ringing for local videographer, 3-D imager, and drone pilot Phil Coombs. 

“There’s a high demand for me to do drone views of properties for sale,” Coombs told Pasadena Now recently,,” but what is especially high in demand are our 3-D virtual tours.”

Think of it as Google Earth for your property. Using sophisticated cameras and software, Coombs and his team can go into properties,  and “scan every nook and cranny in the house.” From the footage gathered, Coombs can create a virtual tour that will take viewers practically into the house’s closets. 

“We read (the data),” he explained, “and then we create a link, and that link is sent out, and people can click on it,  and they can walk through the entire house, as if they are physically there.”

Coombs continued, explaining the depth of the gathered data.

“There is something called  ‘scan points,’” he said. “So we’ll start one scan, and then the camera will make a full 360 degree shot, collect a lot of images, and  then we’ll go to the next scan point. Now, scan point number two has to be close enough to read scan number one, and so on, until the property is fully scanned. When it’s all rendered, it’s a fluid walkthrough.”

The data can also help create “very, very high detailed floor plans,” said Coombs, who says that with the infrared camera, properties can be measured within a hundredth of a square inch accuracy. The same data can also be used to create CAD files that architects can use to remodel spaces, as a local Bed, Bath and Beyond recently did.

A sample of Coombs’ work is available here in this tour of a Pasadena home. Coombs has also created links and 3-D tours of the Pasadena Museum of Natural History, Tournament House, and the Old Pasadena restaurant, Vertical Bistro. 

“Viewers can walk around everywhere and spend as much time there as they want,” said Coombs.

While Coombs has  been creating such productions for a number of corporations for a few years, a number of local agents have now hired him to work his magic.

Said Coombs, “I’ve got a new wave of agents who before never saw that value and now they’re seeing that extreme value. In fact, even their managers are saying, “You know what? No open houses, call these guys.” 

Working with nearly every major real estate company in Pasadena, Coombs has created 3D virtual tours for Coldwell Banker, Compass, Keller Williams, Deasy Penner Podley, and a number of others.  

Coombs added, “Whether it’s me or anybody else doing these tours, people can now watch them anytime. And then if they’re serious about it, then buyers and sellers can meet one on one, when the time is right.”

Phil Coombes is available at (626) 644-3227.

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