Using video game technology to give house tours “down to the millimeter”

The same technology used for Halo can be harnessed to give virtual home tours:

A new Seattle real-estate brokerage called Surefield hopes to improve the home-shopping experience by harnessing the power of video-game engines and computer-vision technology. Its service includes an online, 3-D, photorealistic model of the home which potential buyers can move through virtually…

“We want to give the homebuyer the ability to inspect down to the millimeter,” said Surefield CEO David Eraker, who in 2002 co-founded the real-estate website Redfin…

And by helping buyers become more selective about which homes they physically tour, home sellers “don’t have to live on eggshells to keep it looking like a hotel every day,” said Surefield COO and broker Rob McGarty, who led Redfin’s real-estate operations before he left in 2010…

Surefield’s technology actually uses a video-game engine similar to one used in modern games like Halo, where a character moves through a space in “first-person shooter mode.”

The company’s chief technology officer is Aravind Kalaiah, a Bay Area visual-computing engineer who led Nvidia’s development of a breakthrough technology in graphic processing.

Sounds like an interesting product that hopefully goes far beyond the picture slideshows available now, especially if a viewer could pan or zoom in and really see what the space was like. This also acts as an elaborate screening device for home listings. With this, potential buyers can get even more information about available properties and do more work on their own without middlemen. Yet, the buyer still needs a real estate agent or broker to get into the homes they are really interested in and relatively few buyers will want to buy a home without seeing it in person.

I wonder how this also relates to research on consumers having more choices. Imagine you could take these virtual tours of dozens of available homes. The consumer gets to see lots of options and can do so very quickly. However, the research on choice suggests giving people more choices tends to reduce their satisfaction as they are more aware of making the “perfect” choice. They might find the home choosing process more to their liking but does it lead to more satisfaction with their home in the long run?

When Craigslist ads use the term McMansion to make their listings seem bigger

I occasionally see Craigslist ads that include the term McMansion, including two from this past week that appear intended to make their homes seem bigger:

-This “Gorgeous McMansion” outside of San Antonio. The home is 1,653 square feet, far short of the national average for new homes. The home looks like nothing special outside or inside, let alone an ostentatious McMansion.

-This “MASTERFUL 3BR/2BATH McMANSION!” in the East Village, New York City. It is a 3 bedroom apartment and while the description suggests it has “soaring ceilings” and “spacious sunsplashed rooms,” the pictures don’t look special beyond the outdoor patio space.

I understand the interest in having their housing unit sound bigger than it is. Real estate agents and others have a whole set of words intended to talk up smaller spaces. Invoking the idea of a spacious McMansion might sounds good but it also serves to invoke a whole range of negative stereotypes. Neither of these advertised units are anywhere near McMansions in size, amenities, or design so this could end up being a losing strategy.

In the end, does this suggest there are enough people searching Craigslist who positively respond to the descriptor McMansion?