America’s top model delivers a new way of viewing property

One of the rooms in the Lake District house
One of the rooms in the Lake District house
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An American camera that can create house tours, stills and even floorplans looks set to be a big hit in Britain. Sharon Dale reports.

One of Britain’s top architectural photographers, Jonathan Taylor, has been capturing beautiful homes on film for years.

A "dolls house" view of the Lake District property designed by Architecure 519

A "dolls house" view of the Lake District property designed by Architecure 519

He also has commercial clients, including Jimmy Choo, and he travels the world photographing their stores using the best equipment available.

Not easily impressed and rarely given to hyperbole, Leeds-based Jonathan is raving about his latest piece of kit.

Imported from America, Matterport is a clever camera “with knobs on” that can be used for everything from selling homes and marketing holiday lets to informing store designers and making an architect’s job easier. It can create interactive 3D and virtual reality tours, high resolution stills and even floorplans.

It’s a giant leap forward from the wobbly and grainy video tours and the virtual reality viewing used in Britain. The experience is smooth, it doesn’t make you dizzy or nauseous and the image quality is exceptional as it captures everything in ultra high definition. You can zoom in on the tiniest detail and everything is crystal clear.

A view inside the Lake District house minus the walls

A view inside the Lake District house minus the walls

Presented as a 3D “dolls house” with no roof or walls, you can see every room in the house before allowing the tour to play and walk you through the property. You can also take control and guide yourself round.

“It is an amazing visual tool. Virtual reality and 3D has been used in the property world for over 10 years but this takes it to another level. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have one because it’s useful for so many industries,” says Jonathan, who runs Cloud 9 Photography with his wife, Zarina.

“If you are selling a house, it gives buyers all the information they need. They can ‘walk through’ and see everything they need to know, including how big the rooms are, so they can see where they might put their own furniture and how the property might work for them. It also saves the estate agent the job of doing a floorplan because it does that for you, measuring the space and even the ceiling height“You can zoom in and zoom out on the images and it allows you to download 2D prints for use on the brochure and on property portals. The software adjusts the light levels and colour so the images look good.”

The cost of a Matterport tour for the average residential property is between £350 and £400. Commercial clients find it just as valuable for different reasons.

One of the stills from a Matterport tour of a Jonathan Taylor's home in Leeds.

One of the stills from a Matterport tour of a Jonathan Taylor's home in Leeds.

“It is very useful for store development. Clients use the Matterport images and the 3D tour in technical meetings as it’s like being in the building and you can navigate your way round it. You can see where the sight lines are and where the signage needs to be.

“It’s also used by visual merchandisers to show examples of best practice and we’ve done tours for restaurants and wedding venues to show people the space and facilities they have for private parties,” says Jonathan.

Apartments.com is Matterport’s biggest single user in America. In Yorkshire, James England of England Residential was one of the first agents to spot its potential.

At the moment, he is using it to market an exquisite Queen Anne mansion in High Hoyland, near Barnsley, and says: “It gives buyers the opportunity to have a really good look around and explore the space. The fact that it also measures the spaces and gives you a floorplan is an incredibly handy tool.”

The Hall, High Hoyland, �1.3m, www.englandresidential.co.uk

The Hall, High Hoyland, �1.3m, www.englandresidential.co.uk

Architects have also embraced it as it shows off their work off to clients and helps when they are designing a building conversion. Andy Brown, of Leeds-based Architecture 519, has used it to showcase a property he designed for a client in the Lake District.

“The 3D tour gives a much more immersive feel than a series of pictures and you can zoom in and see the detail. If you are converting an existing building, the ability to record it via Matterport and then refer back to that in the office is a fantastic opportunity. The measurements are there and you can see every detail.”

One of the biggest success stories so far has been in the holiday lets industry. Columb and Michelle Reid own Morton House and the attached converted stable block in Masham, which can be rented separately or together to sleep 17. They have seen an increase in bookings since investing in a Matterport tour.

“It’s going to be on our new website and we have sent it to people who have made enquiries and we have had a much higher conversion rate from initial enquiry to bookings as a result. It’s a great sales tool,” says Columb.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic because people can do a ‘walk through’ tour and see exactly what they are getting. It’s as good as actually being there so there’s no need to email us with a long list of questions as the answers are all there on film. It makes life easier.”

He adds: “I think Matterport has got huge potential, not just in property, but in retail. You could have a virtual tour of a shop and zoom in and see what’s on the shelves before buying online.”

Useful Contacts

*Cloud 9, photography and Matterport tours, www.cloud9.photos.

*To view a Matterport tour visit this story on the Homes and Gardens section of The Yorkshire Post website and click on the link in the story. Our website address is www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/homes-gardens

*Morton House and Stable Block holiday lets in Masham, which sleeps up to 17 people, www.mortonhouseuk.com

*Architecture 519, The Studio Candle House Granary Wharf, Leeds, www.architecture519.com

*The Hall, High Hoyland, is for sale at £1.2m with England Residential. It sits above Cannonn Hall Farm Country Park and is Grade II listed with many period features, www.englandresidential.co.uk