Preparing a House for a Matterport Virtual Tour

If a house for sale or rent is scheduled for a Matterport virtual tour, here’s how it’s prepared before we arrive on site. Read checklist:
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  • Checklist to prep the property
  • General guidelines for those new to Matterport
  • What to expect from a technician on site

Easier said than done – what could be so complicated in scanning a house, instead of just cleaning it up? This article elaborates on the common pointers, to make the entire process easier. Yes, these ideas are India-specific, but also used globally.

Matterport Virtual Tours for Houses

Whether it’s a new or a renovated house, it’s a good idea to start with deep cleaning. When they survey the house for deep cleaning, they give you a decent idea of the time and effort involved. Their team uses industry-grade equipment to clean the property, which is essentially the floors, doors and windows, fittings, accessories and more. Walls are ideally repainted.

If deep cleaners are not involved, crucial things might get overlooked, like a chalky buildup on a faucet. Once they’re done, make sure they clean up after them. Have they left behind anything that you would rather not see in the virtual tour?

When we say ‘Matterport virtual tours for houses’, it refers to the virtual tour with the unique URL. In India, the tour is also used as a base to extract 2D images, like the ones you see below. They are then used in Real Estate websites like 99Acres, to list the property for sale.

These images, unlike traditional photography, appear slightly different – as you can see below. A single scan can give at least 4 different perspectives, because it captures in 360 degrees.

Matterport for Houses in India - Adostrophe
When all the doors and windows are open, with curtains drawn, the property looks pleasing.

A High-Quality Virtual Tour

Consider a photo bomber. In the world’s most populated country, we can’t roll our eyes when someone’s walking outside the house. What we can control is two things:

 – Schedule the scan at a time when there might be minimal people walking around. Maybe 6:30 AM?

 – If there’s someone walking in our frame, we’ll stop scanning for that minute and resume after they pass. If it happens during a scan, it will be deleted and scanned again.

To clarify, the scan can’t be done when there are people walking around. This creates misalignments when the panoramic images are stitched together. Sometimes we even get an error in the Matterport app, prompting a rescan.

Besides, who would want a photo bomber distracting a home buyer’s attention? In apartments, if curious neighbours are staring from a balcony, we can blur them out in post. Note that animals and birds are fine – it adds that natural element to any photograph.

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Curtains don't have to be drawn when there may be onlookers or the exterior is not photogenic. Note that the bed lamps are on.

The Un-Editable Presentation

Granted that minor items can be blurred in Matterport, but it’s not like those editing tools in Photoshop. One of the reasons Matterport is so popular across the world is that the high-fidelity tour is not editable. 

Let’s say there’s a dustbin sitting in the living room. You decide that it’s not attractive enough and request us to do something about it. Here are possible scenarios:

  • If the bin appears in 10 scan points of the room, it has to be blurred out in all 10 panoramic images.
  • Rescan the room with the bin removed. As experienced technicians, we rarely go for reshoots. This is why we ask homeowners to prepare things upfront.

In Photoshop, you can clone a spot in an image and stamp it over another spot. There’s no such magic in Matterport. The item can’t be replaced, but only blurred.

Think of other things like a laptop, wallet or a family photo. Get these items removed before scanning, so that the Matterport virtual tour for your house comes out right, the first time.

House for Sale in Bangalore - Matterport Tour - Adostrophe
If staging is not an option, get all items removed from the house while scanning. A dash of green is always welcome.

Staging for Residential Real Estate

An empty house is fine, really – that’s what the buyer gets. However, when the same house looks furnished, it helps with the imagination. In this context, staging can be really useful. Staging means renting out furniture and placing it in the house, until necessary.

Staging can also be done with CGI, which we do not recommend. 3rd party apps like Captur3D can place furniture, carpets, shadows, etc, in a Matterport tour of an empty house. This not only makes the tour heavy loading, but too digitised or artificial. However, it’s up to you (the client) to decide on your requirement.

In any case, ensure the furniture is straightened, and ready for the scan. In other industries like hospitality or education, if such details are looked into after we’ve arrived on site, it would cost precious minutes, affecting things that follow. For example, the breakfast time for guests, in a hotel’s restaurant.

Matterport for Beach Homes in India - Adostrophe
For houses that are marketed for sale or rent, it's preferable to remove all personal items, even if the property isn't renovated.

Checklist to Prep the House

Polished tiles can reflect light clearly, so the cleaner they are, the better it looks. In many cases, professional deep cleaning services may not be needed – a simple sweep and mop would do.

Check the other reflecting surfaces like glass windows and steel handles. Fingerprint smudges can be seen even without zooming in, in the virtual tour. 

Other points to check:

  • TV and computer monitors. When off, the black mirrors can easily show smudges. If on, keep the screen static like a Netflix or another banner.
  • For windows and mirrors, use something like a Colin spray and wipe with a newspaper for that new look.
  • Shelves and ledges – keep it dust free.
  • Mop all floors, including balconies and patios.
  • Bathrooms floors to be dry. Toilet seats down. Towels neatly folded.
  • Double check garbage bins are hidden, even in bathrooms and closets.
  • For exterior stone floors in villas, a water wash helps. 
Matterport Virtual Tours for Houses in India - Adostrophe
Lights are on, mirrors and wardrobe polished, linen washed and ironed. No dust on any surfaces.

Lighting in a Virtual Walkthrough

Upon our arrival, turn on all lights including lamps (study, bed and tables). When we say all lights, it includes those outside, like the balcony and portico. If the kitchen chimney has lights, turn those on too, without the fans.

Electronic items with indicators look good when on. For example, a refrigerator with an external touch panel. Similarly with AC indicators, but they don’t have to be running because the windows will be open. Ceiling fans to be switched off.

All windows, doors and curtains to be open. In real estate, natural light makes the place look inviting. Although a lamp may not be necessary, keeping it switched on adds vibrance.

You may also choose to keep all lights on and switch off the mains, to prepare for the tour. This way, when we arrive, you only have to turn on the MCB, instead of a hundred switches. This way, there’s no risk of forgetting a detail, such as a bed lamp .

Matterport for Residential Real Estate in India - Adostrophe
If a tube light isn't working, turn on the others. Notice the chimney light and fridge panel is switched on.

The Excitement of a Virtual Tour

Two last points to keep in mind:

  1. As photographers, we often go to homes where the security gives us the keys. This is fine and we don’t have to have the homeowner present. 
    In this case, we’ll turn on all lights and open windows for the scan. Upon completion, we’ll close them and return the keys. That’s as far as we go – other cleaning and organising items mentioned above is beyond our scope.
  2. There’s probably no upper limit to cleaning or setting up a place for a shoot. We’ve often seen people running around at the last minute trying to get things done. If perfection can’t be achieved, think of it as ‘natural’ or ‘charming’ instead of obsessing over every last detail.

Take our word for it – a Matterport tour for your house will look good anyways. These are checklists and guidelines, not mandates.

When we say “can’t”, it has to be read as “not recommended”. If we say we can’t scan when there are people walking around – we still can, but the image might come across blurry in those parts. 

The idea of a virtual tour, in the digital marketing context is something exciting. It helps sell or rent a house faster. There’s also the ability to virtually walkthrough the property anytime you please, and share with friends. The preparation tips are meant to help you get the best out of the tour – that’s all there is to it!

Matterport for Villas in India - Adostrophe

Homeowner Memories

This 3 floor villa was scanned for the owner's documentation. It's private, so no need to worry about the checklist above.
Matterport for Private Residences - Adostrophe

Tenant Occupied Homes

In certain cases, properties will need to be scanned before the tenants vacate. Again, our checklist isn't applicable here.

Get a Matterport Virtual Tour for Your Property

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