Jeff Turner is the Chief Strategy Officer of immoviewer, a leading virtual 360° and 3D tour technology company. In his segment, he helps you understand how you can apply virtual and artificial reality to your real estate practice. He also explores the obstacles that can hinder this groundbreaking technology from going mainstream.
Topic – Inman Connect highlights
Mentor – Jeff Turner
Kevin: Jeff Turner is the CEO for immoviewer, and joins me. I haven’t seen Jeff for so long, and that’s why it’s great to see you again, my friend. How are you?
Jeff: It’s very, very good to see you again.
Kevin: Tremendous to be in your country. I think last time we spoke was from a little, tiny studio-
Jeff: In the back of your house.
Kevin: In the back of my house, which is still working, by the way, too. We do-
Jeff: We were there with Peter Brewer, and it was … We would’ve talked about this before, but you’ve played an interesting role in my life. Because the first time that we spoke was at AREC in 2011 in Sydney.
Kevin: I was going to remember, yeah.
Jeff: And a little company based out of Manly Beach was just starting. It was their first launch, and they advertised behind my head on your show.
Kevin: They did, they did.
Jeff: I met them, and ended up working with them and bring RealSatisfied to the US and selling that into existence.
Kevin: And RealSatisfied has just been a massive success, and to think it came out of Australia. And I think at the time, you guys were just looking for links, and I think that interview was actually the link that you picked up with them on, so-
Kevin: But you’ve been a part of that.
Jeff: You know, what’s interesting is, we went from zero, like I didn’t know who they were or what they were on that day, to six months later launching a product in the United States.
Jeff: Quite amazing. It’s an incredible how things, how small this world is, and we come here to do this, then I meet you again. Tell me about what you’re doing.
Jeff: Well, so, it’s interesting. We experienced with David and Peter in Australia, has sort of turned into a form of … I call it a new expertise for me, helping start-ups understand all of the intricacies and nuances of the American market. And I’ve been a mentor for NAR Reach since its inception, and I met Ralf von Grafenstein and Steve Bintz, who was the national sales director for immoviewer, as part of the Reach mentorship programme almost two years ago. And I really liked their product, but I really thought that if they were going to continue on the strategy they were going, it was never going to get them to where they want to go.
And so, I do it with one or two companies each mentoring session. If there’s one I like, we just continue talking. And there was no commercial arrangement between us or any of that. It was just me spending time, giving friendly advice. And long story short, they asked me to be the CEO of North America, and I took them up on the offer, and we’ve since moved the company in another direction. Just this past week, we launched a new product in the restoration and home inspection market called DocuSketch.
Kevin: How does that work?
Jeff: Well, so DocuSketch is a take on the 3D virtual reality space. One of the thing that immoviewer does that’s kind of unique is that they’re able to build floor plans and 3D models from just flat 360 images. And it’s a really interesting piece of math that’s required to do that. And so, that expertise plays actually better in that market because of the need to document, the need to get a sketch, a floor plan out, the value of 3D models inside of the restoration/home inspection space, than it does in a market like real estate, where agents still haven’t really caught on to virtual tours, not really.
Kevin: I was … talking about that, and we’ll get right back, I was talking to the owner of a major franchise, one of the biggest franchises in the world. And he was telling me, the challenge he’s having just in getting his brokers and agents to embrace video, let alone virtual tours, virtual reality, artificial intelligence.
Kevin: Tell me, Jeff, are you staggered at the pace that this is all going at? I mean, I’m not young. I’m older than you are. But it never ceases to amaze me, when I look back even five years ago, the advances in this industry.
Jeff: Yeah, I mean, obviously I’ve been around a long time. You’ve been around a long time. I think it does give us a better perspective on how big the change is. I think I’m staggered more by the pace, even from last year. That’s the thing that’s … you don’t need to have a tonne of perspective to really appreciate how fast this is going. And that’s true on the 360 3D VR side of the equation. It’s true on artificial intelligence and machine learning and deep learning, and even [inaudible]. All of these things are, because of how quickly those chip sets that were really required to jumpstart the movement have been developed, the pace has just continued to pick up. And it really is staggering.
Kevin: When we talk about real estate, the Inman Conference, I think, has been the benchmark for the world for many, many years. But if we probably go back a decade, tech didn’t play a real big part in it. But if you look at this now, there’s a whole floor of new tech. There’s another floor underneath this that devoted to new technology that’s coming through. The pace is just enormous.
Jeff: Yeah, but until recently, there weren’t … there’s really not been a major change in the real estate industry itself.
Jeff: You know, when you talk about his struggles to get agents to do video, we did some study in an MOS in upstate New York. More homes were sold last year with zero photos or a single photos that homes that had a virtual tour. So, agents will change when the consumer demands the change. And until that time, they’re not going to change their model. They’re no going to change the way they market homes. They’re not going to change a lot of those things, and I obviously think that’s a mistake.
Kevin: Yeah, I do, too.
Jeff: I think real estate in general, and this is a gross generalisation, I’ll apologise in advance, but I think the leaders of real estate are expecting to look for some technology meteor to come and make them dinosaurs, and I just don’t think that’s the way it’s going to work. I think it’s going to be other areas, other verticals, adapting and adopting to new technologies, and consumers just learning to expect more from that, to where it’s going to force change in the industry. Or, something bad will happen.
Speaker 1: Yeah, well, and I don’t think we should wait for that. And I agree, I think it’s a mistake that, as an industry, we are waiting for this change to happen. It shouldn’t be driven by the consumer. It should be driven, I think, by the agents who are using this to educate the consumers.
Kevin: It’s a big mistake.
Jeff: Yeah, I think so, too. You know, you want to … I get it. I mean, I understand the mentality. A house is going to sell, whether I do X or not.
Kevin: Yeah, but that’s lazy.
Jeff: Well, I’m going to say that you said that, because-
Kevin: It’s lazy.
Jeff: It is lazy. But there are also … if you take a step back and look at it from an agent perspective, especially on the North America side of the equation, might be a little bit different in Australia, because agents go out, and the vendor pays for a lot of these services. The agent eats all of that cost here, up front, before a house even sells. And they’re constantly bombarded from all sides with new technologies and shiny objects and things that they could do. And they really do have to weigh everything against what’s really required for me to do that.
Kevin: Ah, well, Jeff, this is your territory. I’ve been here five minutes, but I can already sense an element of requiring a change in how brokerage is done. I interviewed an agent just today who was talking about, “No BS in my company.” He is embracing technology. He’s trying to change the model, working for buyers and sellers. We see the [I’d buy a] model. All of these challenges are forcing change on this industry.
Jeff: I think there’s been more of that hint that something’s coming in the last year than there has been in any year previous. That’s a fact. I mean, I feel that, as well. And I think the industry’s feeling it, too.
Kevin: I think they are, too.
Jeff: The talk is becoming a higher volume.
Kevin: Yeah,. I think the smart operators are anticipating that, trying to get ahead of that, and that’s what I was sort of saying, without … I think we need to be driving this change rather than sitting back and waiting for it to happen.
Jeff: Yeah, I agree.
Kevin: Right, talking to my friend, it’s always, you’re always welcome.
Jeff: It’s always good to see you.
Kevin: Yeah, thank you, Jeff.
Jeff: It’s been too long.
Kevin: Yeah, it’s been too long. We’ll catch up again soon.
Jeff: Thank you very much.
Kevin: Good on you.
Kevin: That was just one of the 60 interviews we did when we were at Inman Connect in New York. Now you can see those. We recorded them in video, and you can see them all right now at propertyTV.io. Check it out for yourself. We compiled them into shows, and we’ll also be featuring them individually. That website again is propertyTV.io.