A home is often the most expensive and important purchase most people make in their lives. It’s also one of the most rewarding. Yet in today’s market, beset by low inventory and bidding wars in many areas, buyers often have only a few minutes to inspect a house before making an offer. Interstate home purchases are becoming increasingly popular, but can be challenging when in-person visits are not possible.
Enter Little Hinges, a company based in Brisbane, Australia that’s simplifying the real estate experience for agents and home seekers by enabling one-click property inspections from any device. “Our mission is about digitizing the entire property transaction, from listing through to closing,” says CEO Josh Callaghan.
In just 18 months, Little Hinges has grown to become one of Australia’s largest virtual property tour provider. It combines Matterport digital twin technology with its own real-time analytics and insights dashboard that provides agents and vendors with unique insights. For just AUD$299, customers receive a virtual tour captured with a Matterport Pro2 3D camera, ten fast facts in the tour labeled with Mattertags, 2D floor plans, the analytics dashboard, weekly performance reports via email, and integration with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.
The company was founded in early 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns closed businesses, employees decamped from the office, and homeowners didn’t want dozens of strangers touring their homes. The real estate industry needed virtual tools, and the founders’ employees needed jobs.
Prior to the pandemic, Callaghan’s cofounder, Josh Kindred, owned a chain of coffee shops as well as a real estate business, Kindred Property Group. When the cafés had to close during lockdowns, he made a commitment to his team that nobody would be made redundant. Kindred trained his baristas to be Matterport technicians. It was the perfect opportunity to grow his business and make sure his staff still brought home paychecks.
Immersive, Interactive Home Search Experience with 3D Virtual Tours
3D real estate tours aren’t new, but many of the earlier iterations were awkward and clumsy. “The Matterport experience is entirely different, and people who use it can feel it,” Callaghan says. “It’s like you’re actually moving through the house rather than jumping from one point to another and having to reorient yourself after every mouse click.”
Video tours have been available for longer than even the least intuitive 3D tours, but videos are a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem that needs to be individually tailored. Everyone who tours a house is interested in different things. Some prioritize the kitchen while others are more concerned with the living room, the bathrooms, or the overall layout. But everyone has to watch the same video and can only look where the cameraperson wants them to look.
“With videos, viewers aren’t in control,” Callaghan says. “With a Matterport tour, visitors navigate their own virtual walkthrough of a property. They decide where to look, what to zoom in on, and how long to linger before moving on.”
Because interested buyers can see everything in great detail—from the layout and room flow to the tile work and the fixtures—they can book in-person visits with far more confidence that they’ll make an offer than if they had only seen photographs. “They know in advance that the house is probably right for them, that it has enough rooms and space, that it’s in the right configuration, and so on,” Callaghan says. “They can easily imagine what it would be like to live there.”
One of the problems with in-person visits is that an interested buyer often has only a small window of time to look at a property, perhaps 15 or 30 minutes at most. And those who spend all day looking at houses can’t possibly remember everything about all of them, what each kitchen looks like, and how big the living spaces are. Those who can go back and virtually revisit each one are better able to decide which they like best, often without having to book a second in-person visit to make sure.
For some buyers, a Matterport tour gives them enough meaningful information about the overall look and feel of the home to make a buying decision. “We had a visitor last night who made an offer on a house based on a two-hour Matterport tour alone,” Callaghan says.
Making Better Decisions with Analytics and Actionable Insights
Little Hinges is onboarding new clients who have already been using 360-degree photography and 3D tours from other companies, partly because Matterport tours feel more immersive but also because of Little Hinges’ analytics. The company collects data every time a visitor virtually tours a property, and it uses the Matterport API and SDK to build data visualization dashboards.
“Agents can see who’s looking at a property day by day and even minute by minute,” Callaghan says. “They can see how many people are virtually touring houses, what they look at while they’re there, how long they stay, where they’re visiting from, and which real estate portals they found the listing on. Agents can then use this information to make better decisions about their rental property marketing campaigns.”
If most visitors are drawn to the kitchen, the listing agent can lead with the kitchen in the marketing materials rather than relying on anecdotal evidence from previous properties.
Opening New Markets
The Insights Portal includes more than just numbers. Agents can see regional and global maps with the locations of each visitor indicated with pins. Some visitors are dropping in from thousands of miles away.
Hardly any buyers who are planning to move to a new city from a great distance are willing to book an appointment for an in-person property visit unless they’re reasonably sure they’ve found the right place. With a Matterport tour, they can be sure, and Little Hinges can prove it.
“We had a client in Cairns, in the remote north of Queensland, who auctioned a property,” Callaghan says. “He had buyers turn up from Sydney and Melbourne, more than a thousand miles away. Both flew up for the auction without having seen the house in person, but they had explored it virtually with Matterport. That was enough to convince them to jump on a plane and start bidding.” A local person won that particular auction, but the house sold for a higher price than it would have without out-of-state bidders.
“It’s one thing for us to say that 3D tours are better than photographs and video tours,” Callaghan says. “It’s another thing to prove how these tours attract the best buyers, how they drive up the price, and how they open new markets that wouldn’t be accessible otherwise.”
Kindred Property Group reports that buyer inquiries have doubled since the company introduced 3D property tours for its listings. “Every single month we are breaking buyer inquiry records and we attribute that directly to the addition of virtual tours. Before Christmas, we’d have been happy to get 600-700 buyer enquiries per month, this month we’re sitting at 1,300 buyer inquiries already, and these are engaged buyers who are actually interested in the properties we’re showing,” says Daniel Lyngcoln, Chief Marketing Officer, Kindred Property Group.
RE/MAX Results finds it rents properties faster by working with Little Hinges. “We’re definitely seeing an increase in sight unseen rentals, whether people are busy, interstate or in quarantine. The floor plans and photos that are incorporated as part of the virtual tour package with Little Hinges are hugely helpful for people looking for a rental property as it has been proven that more people feel comfortable applying sight unseen with a virtual tour and floor plan incorporated into the advertising campaign,” says Faith Williams, Property Manager, RE/MAX Results. “In a world where we are all super busy, this technology has allowed my agency to lease properties almost 50% quicker than competitors in the area.”
A top sales agent with Ray White Surfers Paradise Group, Glen Williams, reports selling listings in one quarter of the time since adding Little Hinges virtual tours. “I’ve sold 10 units over the past three months, with average days on market of just 34 days, with one of the most recent sales taking only two weeks. Compared with the average time on market for Surfers Paradise apartments of 180 days, this is a significant result,” Williams says. “I have been able to track almost 2,300 groups through my last 10 units via virtual tour inspections, including a significant proportion from interstate.”
20 Percent Growth Month Over Month
They say little hinges swing big doors, and that’s exactly what’s happening with Little Hinges. It may be a new company, but it’s realizing 20 percent month-over-month growth and capturing digital twins for hundreds of properties during each of those months, all over Australia. Clients respond so well to the analytics that Little Hinges is planning to dive even deeper next year with enhanced data customizations. “This certainly isn’t just a pandemic-driven solution,” Callaghan says. “With its ability to attract more buyers from a wider radius and sell properties at a higher price, Little Hinges is sure to thrive long after the pandemic is just a bad memory.”
Little Hinges is a Matterport Platform Partner that leverages Matterport APIs and SDKs to build and commercialize their apps and integrations with Matterport’s market-leading spatial data platform. As a Platform Partner, they gain access to a range of commercial benefits, such as Matterport’s distribution network and enhanced support as well as co-marketing and co-selling programs to help them successfully monetize their applications. To learn more about the Platform Partner Program and apply to join, visit https://matterport.com/platform-partner-program
ABOUT LITTLE HINGES
Little Hinges is an Australian company that digitizes real estate transactions from beginning to end. It combines Matterport 3D virtual tours and its own analytics and insights platform that surfaces actionable data so that agents can run better marketing campaigns.
Matterport SDK, Matterport API, Matterport Pro2 3D Cameras
- 20 percent month-over-month growth
- Doubled buyer leads
- Selling listings in one quarter of the time
- Accelerating time-to-lease by 50%