Three Treasure Valley men have launched a new real estate start-up known as Epic Realty, which utilizes virtual reality to make it easy to shop for property.
“It’s clear virtual reality is the next step,” Sheridan Hodson said. “What I was trying on the financial side merged with Chad’s vision for how VR could make home buying easier -- and from there we knew we had something special.”
Hodson used to sit in his office in Boise’s Micron Technology, preparing financial models as he listened to the entrepreneurial podcast “This Week in Startups,” paying particular attention to the rise of businesses centered in virtual and augmented reality.
Chad McCloud, Hodson’s childhood friend, had just returned to his previous career as a real estate agent after eight years in medical sales. Almost a decade after getting his first experience in real estate, McCloud realized not much had changed in the way consumers shopped for property.
The two friends met for coffee one day to catch up and discuss their mutual interest in the use of VR technology.
Hodson and McCloud, along with fellow College of Idaho alum Trevor Thomas, opened their showroom on Oct. 13 at The Village in Meridian -- offering the public the opportunity to go on virtual tours of local residential and commercial properties.
It is among the first virtual reality showrooms of its kind, they say, allowing prospective homebuyers and curious passersby the chance to “walk through” homes and businesses without having to step foot on the property.
“There are so many advantages to this kind of technology,” McCloud said. “We’re not trying to sell houses sight-unseen, but by being able to look through as many virtual properties as they like, potential buyers can narrow their searches and get important questions answered without having to physically walk through multiple homes per day. It can be tough to remember all those homes in one day, but now you can revisit them as many times as you like.”
Within one business day, the Epic Realty team says it can walk through any home and convert it to a virtual reality render. The team members take multiple 3-D scans of the homes from multiple positions in each room, allowing for a rendering set to scale with how the home looks in person.
The company can also develop renderings using schematics and blueprints directly from contractors, adding virtual furniture to create a realistic representation of how the final product will turn out.
Since the company’s start several months ago, it has provided scans for several local businesses and landmarks, including Payette Brewing Company, Boise’s Capitol Building, and the Cycle Bar.
“We’re trying to involve the community as best as we can,” Hodson said. “We’re building exposure not just for ourselves, but for all the areas in the community we can highlight. By showing these tours for free, people can experience this technology -- and maybe for the younger crowd, it can spark something in their minds the same way it did for us.”