What is VR? It is an artificial, computer-generated environment that you experience as if you were inside the image, or in this case the home. Put on a virtual reality headset and you can go on a tour of a home without ever setting foot inside the door, not only making house hunting more efficient, but also helping to reduce stress in a relocation situation. As far as the selling process with VR, distance doesn’t matter. You can offer the same experience to a client in the United States and a client in Hong Kong, 24 hours a day.
One problem that has plagued real estate agents for decades is that an empty home is a difficult sell. Without furniture and all of the other little touches that turn a house into a home it can be very difficult for a potential buyer to imagine themselves living in a particular property. With technology, the virtual solution solves this dilemma and ‘staging’ a home, just got less expensive and easier than lugging in actual pieces of furniture to fill a home when it’s open for inspection. FloorPlanOnline’s 3D floor plan solution allows anyone to drag and drop furniture onto a “clean slate” floor plan model and virtually stage it with furniture. Better yet, they can virtually change wall colors, flooring, or even experiment with removing a wall to see what an open concept might look like. Click a button and see it in 3D from the top, or go all in with immersive First Person view. Our 3D plan enhances some of the other cool 3D tours like Matterport, which show all of the sellers’s stuff in the property, as well by converting any Matterport tour into a 3D model that allows you or the owner to do anything, all virtually and in real time.
But is this really what consumers want? According to Coldwell Banker’s 2018 Smart Home Marketplace survey (download PDF here), the answer is YES! Th CB study reveals insights on how smart home tech and VR (Virtual Reality) are set to benefit consumers in a myriad of ways. Their survey included responses from 3,000 adults revealing that:
77% of homebuyers would like virtual reality tours before seeing the listing in person.
84% agree they would love to see video footage of homes before visiting
Another 68% would like to use technology to see how their current furniture would actually look in a new home.
Further, 62% of Americans said they would be more apt to go with a real estate agent, that offered VR Tours over an agent who did not.
An example 3D Space Planner, standard with all FloorPlanOnline Tours and HomeDiary users.
When it comes to Smart Home products that could make or break a sale, the table below shows a percentage of Americans who already own, or plan to purchase, Smart Home products.
The following Smart Home Products were picked by respondents to be the most important pre-install in a listing:
Smart Thermostat – 77%
Smart Fire Detector – 75%
Smart Cardon Monodie Detector – 70%
Smart Camera – 66%
Smart Lock – 63%
Smart Lighting System – 63%
While some of the changes expected to hit real estate technology may be a decade out to be fully felt, the movement is taking steps forward every day. Virtual Reality has proven its worth and it won’t be long before it transforms the property-buying experience for home buyers all over the world.
FloorPlanOnline’s HomeDiary PRO service is the perfect online tool to help showcase your listings, and well as provide a unique homeowner management tool to all of your clients for one low annual fee. With HomeDiary PRO, you can provide an HGTV-like 3D floor plan tool to all of your clients to they can Dream, Manage and Do more with their home. To learn more visit HomeDiary PRO. Existing FloorPlanOnline customers, please contact sales for special options.
According to a recent 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.
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?
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. They all regurgitate the same (often small sized) photos. Except our virtual tour. The virtual tour features HD sized photos that fill the screen, 2D and 3D floor plans, a 3D designer, 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.
View our video on how to Win the Silent Interviewand get more listings by being differentiated online.
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 we automatically create 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. Like 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! 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. See page
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.
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.
They want to use technology to simplify things, like electronic documents and file sharing.
They want to screen properties BEFORE they ever visit them. This means lots of photos, aerial images, virtual tours and we think floor plans to help people visualize how their family can live in the property, not how the seller currently is living in it. Lots of research out there that says 70% to 90% of buyers want to see floor plans when they search. Leverage this and market it at the listing appointment to get the listing every time!
Be the expert on the process and help people understand it.
Now every buyer can claim their new home right from the FloorPlanOnline virtual tour. With the click of a button, the buyer sends a request to you as the listing agent to approve giving a copy of the photos and floor plans (including the 3D Space planner) to the buyer in their own private HomeDiary account. Now, that great content created on the “For Sale” side of the transaction can live on with the “For Living” side! No other virtual tour platform has this capability because no one else has their own 3D floor plan tool that can do the amazing things the FloorPlanOnline tool can do!
Right now, the Claim Home feature is live on the Full Screen tour. We will be working to add it on other tour versions. If you want it on your tour now, simply go to Edit Details from the Manage Tours page and select the Full Screen tour option, then save at the bottom. The Claim Home button will then show under tools as you see in the above screen shot.
Then just look for the approval request from the buyer. You can also point out this feature to the buy side agent as a courtesy to them and their client.
We are currently working on some market research as part of our participation in the NAR REach program around HomeDiary options and integrations with some of the tools you already use, such as transaction management platforms, CRM systems and even some larger regional brokerages. So stay tuned for some interesting things to come as we approach the National Association of Realtors’ annual convention.
Drone photo and video footage can add some cool and interesting views to real estate listings. But to create them for real estate purposes, which is considered a commercial use, the person controlling the drone (the “Pilot in Command”) must be legal, which means they should have an FAA issued Remove Pilot certificate. Failure to do so can mean fines as well as possible jail time. To get a certificate, you must pass the remote pilot knowledge test, which asks questions about airspace, weather, who qualifies, airport operations, emergency procedures and preflight/flight procedures, to name a few.
I just passed my test to get my remote pilot certificate, so I thought I would pass along my experience if you are interested. I will say, I think it is a good idea that people have to go through this whole process, and in fact, I would almost suggest a hobbyist have to go though it as well, given the consequences of someone doing something stupid with another plane in the sky….but that is for another day. I did learn a lot and have a good appreciation for why there is a need for this process.
Studying. I started to read some different documents (like the Pilots Handbook), but could barely keep myself awake. So I finally broke down and bought access to a video tutorial site. I used these guys. http://remotepilot101.com Jason does a great job going through the material and emphasizing what is important and what is likely to be on the test. It is $99 and well worth it because you will need to retake the test every 2 years and your initial purchase covers you for future years. After each section there are sample questions, that look very similar to the real test questions. There is a final exam at the end as well. Here is my drone tutorial I created. But to get the full effect you need to buy the video course and then you can understand what these are all about.
This is all I did. I would suggest reading at least the summary to the Part 107 rules & regulations. There are a few questions about eligibility. Here are some helpful resources:
Taking the test. You need to go to an official testing station to take the computer test.
Need to schedule the test first. There is a list of testing centers below but I was told you have to call PSI to schedule it. 800-211-2754 – It costs $150. They also said you need to be a member of www.aopa.org and you get $10 off if you are member too. I signed up for the free student membership. see the test centers here
The Test. It was pretty much like the sample questions in the RemotePilot101. They had some images as part of the questions. Note…I was provided a test supplement, but I thought it was really more for a real pilot’s test as the lady also gave me some other measuring tools and she did not mention that the images ARE IN THE BOOK…so I did not even use it…but the images in the test questions ARE in the book, and this makes answering the questions a lot easier, as I could not really read some of the details on the computer. So, while I did pass, I probably would have gotten at least 3 or 4 questions right had I just looked in the book! It took me about 45 minutes. I answered most questions, I flagged a few and then went back through each question using the 1990’s style navigation…so you do have an opportunity to go revisit any question again. When you are done, close out and the testing person gets your results, and then prints your certificate if you pass!
Getting the Remote Pilot License. Register and then go through the process here iacra.faa.gov. Note – you need the Knowledge Test ID and this is not available until 48 hours after your test…I guess someone needs to put in a punch card or something into the old government computers…
I finalized my application at iacra.faa.gov. The process was a little clunky, but it found my test and you digitally sign the documents. So, I believe at this point I am an official Drone Pilot! Not that I will be doing a lot, but given I run the company I thought it would be good to have the knowledge and capability…and hey, I have to admit, it is fun (except when there is a fly away…which I did experience playing around at Weatherby Lake). Remember the return to home button.
After a few days you can log back in and print off your temporary certificate! You do not need to wait to fly to get yours in the mail.
One last thing I thought was funny. One of the test questions involved my home town in Iowa – Onawa. Population 3000. What are the odds of that??? I thought it was destiny that I should become a Drone Pilot, aka DronebyCone.
Getting a Drone. I have looked at various ones. I like the Phantom 3 Advanced. It has a lot of good features with 2.7k video and 12 mp photos, and the key- a gimbal for the camera. There is another version with 4K but I think for now that might be overkill. The Phantom 4 is cool but not sure I need to spend that much for all of the other advanced stuff…maybe if you are flying indoors, it would be good to have as it does have avoidance sensors. DJI also just came out with a smaller one this week, the Mavic..has collision sensors too.
Insurance. To work with FloorPlanOnline, you need insurance. I would imagine the larger brokerages will require some kind of coverage as well. I am investigating options, including a possibility to have an overall umbrella policy to cover all activities within our network. I was told this group www.modelaircraft.org comes with $2.5 million of liability insurance, but when you look at the details, it DOES NOT cover business pursuits. So investigating other options. I found an app called Verifly where you can buy insurance on demand for $10 for 1 hour within 1/2 mile radius of your flight. So this might be a good option starting out. I have read some other posts that insurance can run $800 to $1000 per year and one of our providers mentioned a renewal bill for $1500! So, price accordingly! Your break even on number of jobs at $10 each for insurance is 120 or so…
Preflight Checklist. As I am helping out as the PIC before our Seattle provider Christine gets certified, my first job was to be today. Well, like a good certified PIC, I first checked the airspace, and low and behold, the area I was going to shoot in is a class D space that is controlled from the ground to 2500 feet! So, I had to refresh myself on the process AND get approval from the Renton ATC. Note…the new process is you have to submit an airspace authorization through the FAA’s website. There is a small UAV button on the main page that takes you to this form https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/ you have to fill out IF you need airspace authorization. So I thought I would just include this in a checklist that could be used every time. See my Checklist. Feel free to print it out or request a copy.
If the first item comes back you will be in a class G, then you can stop and go shoot after checking the Notams/weather, but otherwise, you need to get clearance. It turns out a lot of high priced property (like all of Mercer Island, WA) is included in Class D airspace in the Seattle area as you can see. The dashed blue line means Class D airspace and the  means it is from the surface to 2500 feet. So to fly in these areas you must get clearance to be legal. It is a good idea to go to Skyvector and just look around the areas you normally will serve to get a feel for what kind of airspace you will be dealing with. If we do a lot of Mercer Island stuff, it will become a pain in the butt fast having to call every time…and the 90 days in advance thing does not fly with real estate, so warn your clients of the possibility of reshoots! But hey…we are being legal and I know I do not look good in an orange jump suit.
That is about it. I think there is lots of opportunity to provide some cool aerial images, videos and even expand the services of what we do and who we work with. So get going, start studying and get your remote pilot license!