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Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 11.15.10 PMThe advent of the Internet has proven a boon to homebuyers who want to browse housing inventory from the comfort of their couch. Real estate agents can upload a smattering of still images to help give people a sense of what a house is like, before they set foot through the door. But even the best pictures can’t convey the full feeling of walking through a house.

That’s why Redfin introduced a new 3D Walkthrough feature that’s designed to provide prospective buyers with a deeper insight into what the home actually looks like before they go and visit it. The effect is a bit like The Sims meets Google Street View: users can zoom out into a “dollhouse mode” and look at a home’s complete floor plan in miniature, and then zoom into a first person view to move around the house. Here’s a video that shows how it works:

Right now, homes listed by Redfin agents in Seattle will include the new feature, and Redfin plans to expand the reach of the walkthroughs to other locales in the coming months. Users who would rather not have a full 3D rendering of their home sitting on the internet can opt out of the new service if they choose.

A home viewed in "dollhouse mode."
A home viewed in “dollhouse mode.”

The service is powered by Matterport, a company that has been working for the past three years on technology that allows people to use a special camera to map the space around them in 3D. In this instance, a Redfin agent will use Matterport’s camera to create a 3D walkthrough of a home, and then include that in the listing.

The service is similar to Surefield, a Seattle startup led by Redfin co-founder David Eraker.

Redfin’s 3D walkthrough is another move by the real estate company to try to attract sellers away from a traditional real estate agent and towards Redfin’s model of using salaried agents equipped with new technology. Last week, the company unveiled the Redfin Home Dashboard, a site that gives sellers feedback about how their home is performing online, and what tasks their agent is doing to move towards a sale.

Previously on GeekWire: Redfin founder re-emerges with Surefield, a new way to sell homes with virtual open houses


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