We have spent the last month doing a major upgrade to the 3D floor plan tool. Major benefits include:
NO Flash – this means it works on iPhones, iPads, other mobile devices
Design, drag & drop in 3D
Built for the future
Coming soon, we will be adding the 3D Designer button on the 3D FloorPlan option of your virtual tours. This will allow prospective buyers to drag and drop furniture, change flooring (such as carpet or hardwoods), or even remove walls to see what that open concept might look like on your mid century modern ranch that needs a big makeover. When they buy the home, they can then Claim It and get all this content copied over to their own private HomeDiary account, compliments of you.
The new 3D space planner will allow editing in 3D mode, including dragging and dropping furniture, changing flooring or wall colors and more. I also has a roof tool so you can visualize different roofing patterns or even see the whole house in a stacked 3D view. NO other online tool has this robust functionality tied to an actual house’s floor plan created on the listing side of the transaction.
Use all of this as a key differentiator at your next listing appointment, and walk away with the listing.
According to an NAR research survey*, buyers think floor plans are very useful as part of a website’s listing content. We of course have always been big believers that floor plans help sell homes and provide a vital piece of the marketing puzzle for listings. After all, photos show how the seller lives in the home. A floor plan shows how the buyer can live in it! Well, we worked with the National Association of Realtors’ research team to get floor plans included in their annual survey for home buyers and sellers. And the results are in:
55% of Buyers stated floor plans were VERY Helpful as part of a website’s content features. Anecdotally, over 80% view floor plans as useful or very useful.
In fact, they were right behind photos and detailed property info (Exhibit 3-09). The top 5 items ranked for “Very Useful” (the highest choice possible):
How can floor plans help you get more listings or sell homes faster?
What is there to differentiate you and your listing on these websites from all of the other agents and listings? Nothing.
Think about it. The same photos are all pulled from the same source (the MLS), and while one site might display them a bit differently, there is nothing really different from the hundreds of sites that have your listing content. They all regurgitate the same (often small sized) photos. They also typically do not show your contact info, or if they do, you have 3 or 4 other agents competing with you, on your own listing.
The good news is our virtual tour can help! We help leave breadcrumbs back to you.
The virtual tour features HD sized photos that fill the screen, 2D and 3D floor plans, a 3D designer (our floor planning tool), the flyer with floor plans, a video and more. All of this can help differentiate you on the web that can help you get more buyers and sellers coming to you, because they can see a difference, and as the NAR research shows, they appreciate content that can help them make a better decision. After all, 62% of home buyers are under 52. They want digital content. They use the web to not only find homes (44% first went online to search for homes for sale and 51% found the home they bought on the Internet), but to find agents, or help validate their decision. We call this The Silent Interview – the way people are silently evaluating who they want to work with to help them either sell their home, or buy a new one, or both.
Another tip. We automatically create a Call2Action photo – a composite image that includes the floor plan and 4 photos with the text of the virtual tour link. We provide both a branded and unbranded version. The unbranded version can be included with most MLS systems as a listing photo. Since people will see the unbranded link, it complies with the MLS branding rules. But, you can login to Zillow and Realtor.com and replace that unbranded image with the branded one. This informs people viewing the listing that there is more content out there – go find it on the virtual tour! We strongly suggest AGAINST including images of the floor plans in the photo gallery – as that creates less of an incentive to click the tour link or type it in. The goal is to get the user to the branded tour, so YOU can have an opportunity to engage in lead capture. So leverage the fact a listing is on Zillow, just make sure you get the person coming to you, via the virtual tour.
There are also other creative ways to leverage the content we create for you. One of our customers in the Seattle area is not only leveraging the Call2Action photo on Zillow, but she is putting it right on the yard sign. She printed it out, laminated it, and stapled it to the sign, as you see here. A great idea! Saves paper, gives the browsers a link to the tour via the link or QR code, and teases them to go see more, including videos, floor plans and of course the 3D Designer.
Speaking of the 3D Designer. We are the only virtual tour company in the US with their own 3D floor plan tool. That gives us control and innovative options. With the click of a button, any potential buyer can open up their private version of the 3D Designer and experiment with changing flooring, wall colors or even seeing what an open concept might look like with the click of a few buttons. This tool brings those HGTV-like tools you see on TV, right to your listing. Plus, add our Enhanced 3D package to your floor plan to closely match what the house looks like, all virtually.
Finally, if someone buys the home, all of this great information can be claimed by the buyer via the virtual tour and the Claim Home button. This includes the listing photos and the 2D/3D FloorPlans and Designer! The seller can also claim the home and get a copy of the same content in their own private HomeDiary. No other tour platform has this capability. Look more at the NAR report. While the vast majority of people say they would use their agent again on another transaction, in reality, only 11% actually do. HomeDiary helps you stay connected over time.
Sellers and their agents.
So leverage all of this great information and features to win the listing appointment. Talk about it and incorporate screen shots into your listing presentation. Call it out on your flyer or at open houses, such as this home comes with a HomeDiary! This is a great way for you to differentiate yourself and your listings from the masses and get more and more people coming to you.
When you did into the data (Exhibit 7-1), the vast majority of sellers found their agent from referral first. I would advocate the web can be a referring source IF YOU differentiate yourself. That means you have to stand out. Doing the same thing everyone else is doing does not cut it. if you can stand out, chances are, you can be the ONE (in 72% of the time) agent people go with. Better yet, younger sellers (36 and under) go with one agent 82% of the time! And 55% of the time you can not only get the listing, but get the new home purchase too! However, while 85% of Sellers would use the agent again (or recommend the agent – Exhibit 7-10), in reality, only 25% used the same agent. So a huge drop off (this actually has gotten better compared to previous surveys). One of the main reasons is after one year, 70% of homeowners FORGOT their agent’s name. So, stay in touch and be relevant. Our free HomeDiary service can help – read how you can invite your clients for free.
In summary, we provide a lot of content, tools and ways to differentiate yourself. It takes a little bit of time, but your will reap the rewards with more listings and more buy-side opportunities.
If you are going to the National Association of REALTORS Conference and Trade Show in Chicago this November, please stop by our booth #1438 to learn more about our new service we are launching, HomeDiary PRO, and take your chance at The $100,000 Crack the Safe contest, sponsored by the 2016 NAR REach class (HomeDiary is a member of this class!) and the Cone Team. One lucky winner will win $100,000 in cash if they enter the correct predetermined 6 digit combination.
Please stop by our booth and get the details on how to qualify, the game rules* and take your chance to win $100K!
Join us for Cocktails too!
As a FloorPlanOnline customer, you are also invited to join us at our cocktail party in Chicago. The party will be held at a newly remodeled Burnham & Root built home from the 1880’s. There are only a handful of these homes left in the Chicago area, and this 7000+ sq ft house has just been restored to its original grandeur. Be one of the first people to see it and meet it’s owner, Lori Wyatt, a Chicago Realtor.
*Contest Rules: The $100,000 Crack the Vault contest is valid only during the National Association of Realtors Tradeshow Expo, November 3 – 6, 2017 at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL. Only one entry is allowed per contestant, and a maximum of 1,000 entries will be allowed. The Winner must match 6 numbers that are pre-programed for this specific contest and that will be kept in a sealed envelop and will be validated in the event the winner enters the correct 6 digit combination. The winner must be validated with 3 photos depicting the Winner and the winning 6 digit entry. The Winning Contestant agrees to allow the 2016 REach companies and the contest administrator, Interactive Promotions Group, to use and publish the Winner’s name and likeness, including a photo, for promotional purposes without further notice or compensation. Only 1, $100,000 payout is available for the 2016 REach $100,000 Crack the Vault contest. Overall odds in winning: 1,000,000 to 1.
Aerial photos and video are great for real estate listings, but did you know YOU and the drone pilot can be fined up to $11,000 by the FAA for each illegal flight?
Now that the FAA rules around aerial photography for commercial purposes (including real estate listings) are fairly clear, it is extremely important to only work with FAA licensed pilots – either a pilot that holds a Section 333 exemption or a person that holds a Part 107 remote pilot certificate.
If you are using someone that does not hold one of these certificates, you could be subject to fines up to $11,000 per occurrence and possible jail time!
However, just having the right credentials does not mean you can fly. There can be local restrictions, either imposed by the FAA airspace classifications, or even the city. Read below for specific detail of the situation in Seattle, currently the fastest growing city in America. The same situation is likely very applicable to your area.
Seattle Airspace Example
To illustrate the complexity and reason you need someone that knows what they are doing, let’s look at Seattle. The Seattle area has many airports that carve up the airspace between class B, C, D and E. Certain high value residential areas, like ALL of Mercer Island and all much of the Seattle-Lake Washington waterfront are actually restricted areas. If you fly here without approval, or meeting the rules, you are flying illegally and subject to fine, or worse…if something goes wrong, you could be looking at potential jail time too!
If you are using someone that has no knowledge of these airspaces, that is your first clue. So do a test and ask them about airspace and see what they say. If they have no idea what the solid blue, dashed blue or other lines means in the picture above, you should not use that person. Or, even what the orange circle means and why it is strictly prohibited to fly there. It is not worth the risk to you and your business. As part of getting a Part 107 certificate, you learn about these airspaces and why it is important to pay attention to them.
So let’s look at a couple of specific areas that are prime candidates for aerial imagery.
Mercer Island is a very affluent area where the average home is over $1 million, since it is 10 minutes from downtown Seattle, yet it has it’s own village like community. ALL of Mercer Island is in a Class D airspace, because the Renton airport, and a Boeing plant, are just south of the island. The second a drone takes off, you are in Class D airspace. That means you need FAA approval to fly there in the first place – before you fly! To get approval, the remote pilot in command must fill out a form with the FAA and wait for approval. They say it can take up to 90 days! Obviously this does not work well for real estate photography.
To speed the process, we have applied for an exemption from the FAA for the specific purpose of real estate photography on Mercer Island and the Seattle-Lake Washington waterfront, so we are waiting to see if we get approved. If we do, then we should be able to do aerial photography on a much more timely basis and this will be an advantage over other providers as we will be 100% legal!
However…there is more. The City of Seattle has its own rules, of course!
Real estate photography comes under the Film Office jurisdiction. In order to do any kind of photography or video legally in the Seattle city limits for a commercial purpose, you MUST hold a Section 333 exemption, you have to have a permit (3 day period to get that at a minimum and $25 fee) and you need to meet their other rules. A couple of onerous ones being you have to notify all people in the neighborhood 72 hours in advance AND you can’t fly within 500 feet of any nonparticipant unless they are under cover of a structure.
How is this practically applied for a real estate shoot? Not very easily…
Per discussions with city employees, they are actively looking at how the Part 107 certificate holders (what FloorPlanOnline people have in most cases) can provide services legally. Let’s hope they are smarter about this than other things the city does… Until then we are not flying within the Seattle City limits. If you are using someone that does, and they do not hold a Sec. 333 exemption specific for the purpose of filming (which I highly doubt anyone in Seattle has given it is public info and only 3 people have an exemption in the whole area), then you are doing it illegally. Buyer beware!
So what is the risk of just doing it, either using someone not licensed or without FAA approval? The FAA is now handing out fines, that can reach up to $11,000 for each occurrence. One guy that did not receive monetary compensation, yet the FAA viewed as a commercial purpose, received a $55,000 fine for 5 different events he filmed. If a drone pilot has to land and change batteries, that is 2 occurrences, even if it is the same property. You can see how this could add up.
Plus, the City of Seattle has prosecuted a drone operator that had a drone crash and knock out a lady during a parade. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Finally, what if a drone went rogue, hit an airplane or car and caused a catastrophic event. You and others would be sued big time, not to mention you would likely be put out of business.
How would the FAA or City of Seattle find your aerial photos? All they have to do is look on Zillow and view the images. You as the listing agent will be listed. So it would not be difficult for them to pursue this easily just by viewing photos people post online. If they come knocking and you do not have the proof of legally being able to fly, you face fines or more penalties.
The bottom line is not to scare you. But it is to educate you to make the right business decision and hire the right people for the job. It is not worth you saving $50 or $100 to hire a college kid or unlicensed drone operator. We do have licensed pilots in WA, NJ, NY, CT, and TX, and more to come down the road. But as you see, just because you hold a valid license does not mean you can fly in all areas. So be smart and know before you fly and hire the right company for the job!
We have received a lot of questions on how to add the Facebook app to people’s Facebook page. Here is a complete video guide on how to do this. It is also posted as a video in our Help Video page.
Note: The most important thing, and what trips people up – you need a Facebook Business page in order to install the app. If you get hung up on the installation, the likely reason is you are not installing it on a business page. If you do not have a Facebook Business page, click here to create one.