The Future of Real Estate AR/VR, a Conversation with Dogu Taskiran, Founder and CEO of Stambol
Right now, if you want to tour a property, it's likely that you can only do so virtually. Zillow saw a 535% increase in 3D virtual tours added to the platform in April vs February. Virtual tours come in many forms, and range from 3D digital tours to recorded voiceover videos to live Facetimes with an agent. All of these virtual experiences bring us one step closer to fully embracing the next logical step, immersive AR/VR for real estate. Today, there are 1.4 million real estate agents using VR to sell property, leading to total commissions of $107 billion.
I believe the rise in virtual tours during the pandemic will accelerate the adoption of VR into the real estate marketing toolkit after Covid for the following reasons:
Buyers have to get more comfortable purchasing homes they have only experienced virtually (25% of shoppers are comfortable buying this way today)
Agents are accepting that virtual technology is inevitable and will supplement their profession rather than replace them
VR, especially for luxury home sales, is the best way to sell to international buyers, who will return to the US real estate market earlier than domestic buyers
To dive deeper into this, I caught up with Dogu Taskiran, Co-Founder and CEO of Stambol. Stambol is creating hyper realistic AR/VR applications, 3D renderings and other showcasing solutions for real estate development projects that don’t exist yet in real life. Stambol's renderings are beautiful. The cover photo for this article is a Stambol rendering, which you probably just assumed was a high quality photo (more sample here). These can be viewed on either web/mobile or through its full VR experience with a headset. The business is different from market leader Matterport, which provides 3D experiences of existing properties: a process that starts with taking videos and photos of the home. Stambol, on the other hand, starts their process with raw architectural specs from developers. On top of that, Stambol offers marketing services to support customers, and its services revenue grew 100% year-over-year for the last 2 years. Today, Stambol has 24 employees.
National real estate revenue is expected to decline 20-30% overall in 2020. What is your outlook on real estate post-Covid and what are the key factors affecting decision making?
There’s a lot of uncertainty in the economy right now and people aren’t sure if they will be able to keep their jobs. However, real estate bounced back very nicely after the 2008 recession, so I’m anticipating the same trend here, especially in the resale market. After the crisis, people will still need to sell their homes and many will choose to downsize.
As for new building investments, this is a little more uncertain. If individuals already have the cash on hand to invest in real estate, current low interest rates may encourage them to invest now. Nevertheless, I think it’ll be about 2 years before we see normal transactions happening again in this part of the market.
How has the rise in virtual tours affected Stambol?
Players that relied solely on physical assets to make sales, whether it was show homes or scale models, have been hit pretty hard. A lot of people have reached out to us to do virtual tour projects for their existing properties because in-person tours are no longer an option. Although this is not our core competency, we are happy to work on some of these projects, as it is filling a critical need for our customers during this time.
What are the current alternatives to AR/VR 3D renderings for real estate developers?
The most common alternative today is 3D architectural illustrations. These are created with tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, both of which are video game engines used for architectural purposes. A brief history of architectural visualization:
Pre-1960s: Architects drew basic illustrations
1960s-1990s: Computer generated renderings were invented in the 1960s, but didn’t become popular until the 1990s
2000s-2010s: Software tools like Unity3D and Unreal Engine became the new standard
Future: AR/VR and real time 3D visualization will become the new standard
Let’s get into some specifics on Stambol. What is your pricing model and what factors are most important here?
We charge differently for each project. The most important factors determining how long it takes us to build and render the model are: square footage, how it is decorated and how detailed the surface finishes are. Designing flat surfaces is faster than designing complex surfaces like cabinets and furniture.
How has your team been coping with shelter-in-place?
We were actually lucky to be able to get out of our office lease quickly and are completely remote now. Our team has adapted quite well and are making full use of collaboration tools like Slack. We’ve gotten used to the remote work lifestyle and don’t plan on moving back into an office anytime soon.
What are the next big developments for Stambol?
Stambol’s mission is to address the entire digital transformation beyond just real estate. In the near term, we see huge growth opportunity to develop AR product visualization solutions in areas like furniture, where spatial context, colors and textures are critical to the consumer buying decision. We are currently working on a few exciting projects in this area. With this solution, end users don’t need any special equipment to interact with it. It’ll be a web and app based solution that is applicable to all end markets, and we plan to sell it using a SaaS model.
Fun Founder Facts
1. Beat Saber, a VR dance game, is Dogu’s favorite indoor activity during shelter-in-place.
2. Lers Ros Thai is his favorite restaurant to visit when he’s in San Francisco.
3. Dune Suave by Einmusik is the song Dogu thinks best describes Stambol because of its upbeat tempo and go-get mentality.
About The Founder
Dogu Taskiran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Stambol, a Vancouver-based creative technology studio specializing in highly immersive content and experiences through AR and VR. Dogu is an expert software engineer and a leader with nearly 20 years of experience in high-performance interactive software applications. He started his career building various educational training applications and simulation systems in the defense industry. Following his passion for video games, he later moved to work on several award-winning AAA titles as a Lead Gameplay Programmer at Electronic Arts, and as the Studio Tech Lead and Expert Engine Programmer at Ubisoft. His love for highly-scalable projects further led him to join Microsoft as a Senior Software Engineer, where he built core graphics components of a large systems incubation project and helped define Microsoft's future technology stack.
He later co-founded Stambol to help clients innovate by combining creativity with the power of disruptive technologies and build experiences that bridge the gap between physical and digital realities. With decades of experience in creating interactive entertainment applications, inspiring and memorable virtual experiences, he wants to disrupt the landscape of various industries with the power of immersive technologies.
About the Author
Bonnie Young runs the Amplified blog. She shares her insights on market trends and interviews founders that are shaking up the tech scene. Please reach out to her on LinkedIn with your questions and feedback.