Zillow Surfing 2.0: Real estate giant uses AI to beef up virtual touring tool

Zillow Surfing just got an upgrade.

The Zillow Group launched a new feature for their virtual tour on Wednesday that uses machine learning to merge different media content with an interactive floor plan. The idea is to make it easier for home buyers to get a feel for a property without visiting them in person.

“It gives the buyer a deeper, more authentic feeling of home,” said Josh Weisberg, VP of Zillow’s Rich Media Experience team.

Virtual tours were key for real estate locations like Zillow and Redfin during the pandemic. Zillow already offers its 3D home tours that combine panoramic photos. The number of 3D home tours used on listings for sale more than tripled between 2019 and 2020. Zillow’s data also shows that virtual home tours attract more traffic compared to offers without them.

The new function shows the room dimensions of the viewer and the exact position of the viewpoint on a floor plan while they are virtually moving around a house.

The Seattle-based Zillow giant is seeing a surge of interest amid the pandemic as more and more people use its platform to look at properties. A glowing real estate market and people just dreaming of their dream home – the subject of a Saturday Night Live viral skit last week – helped drive a record 9.6 billion page views over the past year, up 19% compared to the previous year.

The virtual tour tool is free to Zillow Premier Agents using the lead generation platform. Revenue from the company’s Premier Agent business increased 35% to $ 314 million in the most recent quarter.

The technology can also help fuel the growing Zillow offering. Zillow offers home buying and selling businesses that aim to streamline real estate transactions.

At least it’s another feature for those who are into Zillow surfing. The pastime “has become a primary form of escapism for those looking to escape not only their homes but also the realities of 2020,” the New York Times wrote in November.

The Times in December also highlighted Zillow as part of a round-up of food, products and other activities that people have turned to amid the pandemic. “There is no better way to channel your desperation about staying home than to watch someone else’s nicer home,” the Times quipped.

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