The news is out. Zillow is all in on floor plans, 3D tours and interactive floor plans.  Why? They know it drives engagement, and buyers and sellers love them.  Psst…We have known this for almost two decades, hence our name FloorPlanOnline...just saying.  

Zillow is just now going all in (in a big way I might add), but let’s look at some of the research which is driving their actions.

  • A 2018 Zillow Buyer study found 58% of buyers thought floor plans were “extremely or very important” as part of their online search.  Overall, 84% of Buyers thought floor plans were important. Interestingly, floor plans outscored professional photography and they were almost 2 times as important than a video in the “extremely or very” important category.  See the graph below.
  • A 2022 data analysis found listings on Zillow with a 3D Tour (Zillow’s, Matterport, other types, etc) were saved 53% more often and they got 81% more traffic than those without.
  • Matterport found 99% of sellers think a 3D Tour makes their home more competitive, and 88% of sellers want to work with agents that offer the technology.  82% of sellers would even switch agents!
  • A summer of 2022 Zillow Seller survey found 76% of Sellers want floor plans for their listings and 60% want a virtual tour for their home, while 70% want to work with an agent that offers them.
  • That same survey found 30% of sellers found their agent online, the largest single source, doubling from 2018.  See our testimony below from Valerie on how she got found online and closed 2 other transactions for another $2.5 million in sales.
  • NAR’s annual survey consistently ranks floor plans up there with photos and detailed home information as “very useful” information as part of the online search, and this year, 26% of all buyers made an offer sight unseen. 
  • A 2021 study found 59% of all buyers, and 64% of Millennial buyers (the largest buying group), said they would buy a home sight unseen.  We have had multiple agents sell homes (in several cases double ended the deal) by leveraging the virtual tour (including just our FloorPlan Tour) as the main “showing” vehicle.

And most importantly for you and your seller, listings with a 3D Tour sell up to 20% faster and for up to 9% more than the market average – see our spot on testimony from Laurie for our own anecdotal evidence.

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Game Changer.  

That’s what you say when something new comes along and shifts how you do something, and I can honestly say HomeDiary and their 3D Walkthrough Tour is a Game Changer. The photos are amazing, that is the first thing online buyers see, and they leave a lasting impression.  They are backed up with the immersive 3D walkthrough and 2D & 3D floor plan tools that can even get converted into a video to complete the ultimate marketing presentation. 

My first listing with HomeDiary had over 400 social media video views of the 3D WalkThrough Video, much more than I ever had in the past. The results also speak for themselves. Most properties in the immediate area sell for 106% of sales price over list price. My listing sold for 114% over list.  Average days on market for the area is 12 days, this property sold in 36 hours.  

Let me say it again.  Game Changer.

Laurie Jorgensen

REALTOR, Jorensen RE Group, ReeceNichols

Ultimately, as we have seen with the popularity of HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Love It or List It, or the fact real estate browsing competes with Netflix binge watching as an entertainment medium (especially with Millennials), the appetite for home content is vast, and insatiable

It’s brought to life in this 2021 Saturday Night Live skit that has over 6 million views to date.

I think the proof is also in the strong motivation Zillow has to get detailed home content.  They have built a whole team and app around the idea of producing this deep data of the home.  As a partner and vendor to the real estate agent community, I encourage you to be aware of what Zillow is doing and understand their motivation behind it, but shy away from their exact approach of how to get the content via their 3D Home app, which ends up giving them all of the data of the home.  

Why?  They are a brokerage.  Whether they are saying it publicly or not, they are competing with you, and like the listing data that was provided to them 15+ years ago to make them the #1 real estate destination online, the more data they have, the more they will control not just real estate search, but the HOME.   

As the CEO of a large NW brokerage put it:

“Whoever owns the home data will own the relationship”

In the Zillow terms of use of their 3D Home app, it says they own the copyrights to all content created (normally the copyright resides with the person doing the work), and they even prohibit a user from making any derivative works from it, such as converting their 2D plan into a 3D floor plan (like ours) for other uses.  So, if you or a photographer you hire uses their app, all you are doing is giving them data that they will use 5 to 7 years down the road to market to that homeowner when it is time to sell (and they will know when it is time).  A simple email asking the owner to take some 360-panos or still photos with their phone and then upload them via the app will give Zillow enough info to create a new updated tour with the floor plan they already have in their database, and this will give them an easy path to win the listing on the sell side, and given they control over 50% of the real estate search market, they will have plenty of buyers on the buy side to double end a complete transaction, all on Zillow, all without you.

Think of it this way.  Would you use your biggest traditional broker’s app (say Compass, KW or Remax) to create content exclusively for them on their website to attract more users, and to use it in any other way they see fit in the future (oh, and prevent you from using it yourself)?  It’s the same thing if you use the Zillow 3D Home app, but worse given Zillow makes up over half of all search and the largest of the traditional brands barely top 1% of traffic (Remax is the largest at 1.38% per April 2022 stats – see below).  

Use FloorPlanOnline to create better content while you are more in control of the home data.

While we currently offer a Zillow 3D Home add on as a service, we do so in a limited way to “check the box” enough to get the 3D Home badge – we sell it in buckets of five 360 photo spots (example, the living room, family room, kitchen, primary bedroom, back yard), and we are not doing all of the work to create a floor plan for them. First, it is not as accurate as they claim.  I have scaned my house over 20 times with different methods. The most accurate is Matterport with a Pro2 camera and calibrated in our system, where it is 99.9% accurate. iGuide was close to 99%+ accuracy. The Matterport app+Theta Z1 is between 97-99% accurate and we are experimenting with some app based methods (that will come out in 2022) that are 98-99% accurate as well.   The Zillow floor plan was off 10% for the first floor, and off 5% (in the other direction) for the second floor (and I used their QR code to increase accuracy).  Other 360 cameras solutions are pretty inaccurate as well, and none had any real-time floor plan editing tools (like we have at FloorPlanOnline). So, why create a floor plan that is materially inaccurate?  And why just make a pdf or jpeg of a floor plan…how fun is that.  Create an interactive and editable 3D floor plan model with FloorPlanOnline that creates an HGTV-like 3D space planner you can use for the listing, and the buyer can use as a management tool post sale with our integration with our homeowner app HomeDiary.

Second, if you opt for our 3D Walkthrough Tour option (which includes the Matterport experience), you can also get the 3D Home designation without giving Zillow any data.  In some markets like Seattle, the MLS allows for three virtual tour links, so add the FloorPlanOnline tour as #1, add the Matterport tour (which we provide as a separate link) as #2, and if you have a custom video, put it in as #3.  Other sites like Redfin and Realtor.com will also pick this content up and embed it more natively into the listing presentation page, so your listing gets more exposure and if you use our tour, so do you (see below for more on Brandkeepr).  

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Redfin is now pulling in Zillow’s 3D Home Tour on the listing detail page in addition to Matterport.  But IF you have both, Redfin currently will overwrite Matterport with the Zillow tour.  Therefore we recommend NOT adding the Zillow 3D Home add on if you also are adding Matterport.  I think this is an unintended consequence of the deal that the developers missed, given the Zillow tour is really quite inferior in many ways to Matterport’s experience.  I have reached out to Redfin to highlight this issue.  

If your MLS includes branded and unbranded virtual tour fields, we suggest you put the FloorPlanOnline branded tour in the branded tour field, and put Matterport in the unbranded tour field.  The reason is Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin, and even Compass will pick up the links to the branded and unbranded tours and Redfin/Realtor.com will embed Matterport in their listing pages.  Zillow currently does not if the tour link is not the first tour, but we have had discussions with them to pick up these additional links, and we believe that is on their implementation horizon.  Note, for IDX sites, including any automated feeds to your own website, the tour will likely be Matterport, but that is ok given most of the traffic is concentrated in the top 10 sites, as you see below.  We are evaluating options to edit/enhance the Matterport tour with our own content as well, so stay tuned there.  

image of top 10 real estate search sites
Seeing this graph brings me back to the point in Zillow’s recent seller survey where “online” was the largest source for finding an agent.  Your listing can be a lead capture source for more business, whether it be a buyer or a seller, or both.  How?  Our patented Brandkeepr feature keeps your brand on your tour on the top sites like Zillow.  You put the unbranded tour in the MLS to abide by their rules, but when a user on Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia or Redfin clicks on the unbranded tour, we recognize where they are coming from and automatically convert it to the branded tour.  Just make sure you use the secure tour link (meaning it starts with https) when you copy and paste it into your MLS.  There are some limitations for mobile app access, but it gives you free lead opportunities by leaving a breadcrumb back to you. We also suggest you create a blog post for every one of your listings, embed our tour on the page, post it to social media, email it to your email base, etc….each listing is a great opportunity to create more content for you and your website.  

Does Brandkeepr work?  According to Valerie, she would not have gotten the additional business had she just uploaded photos to the MLS.  The FloorPlanOnline tour and Brandkeepr led a new client seller (with a follow on local purchase) back to her.

As I can attest, FloorPlanOnline can help you get more business.  

I received a call from a potential buyer who saw one of my listings online.  While the home sold quickly and she was too late, she was so impressed with my marketing presentation, powered by FloorPlanOnline, she not only hired me to sell her high-end home, but I helped her buy her new one, too. That one listing was responsible for an additional $2.5M in sales.

I would not have gotten the new client by providing just photos.  This buyer specifically called me based on my FloorPlanOnline presentation. That’s why the FloorPlanOnline platform is my go-to team for creating amazing content for my sellers, as well as a tool for new buyers through its HomeDiary integration, which can be a channel of new business too. 

Valerie MacKnight

Broker/Realtor, Windermere Real Estate

Why does it work?  As the data presented above shows, buyers and sellers want this content for the home they are either buying or selling, and when they go online, they are not only searching for homes, they are searching for agents.  They are conducting a “silent interview” of you and your competitors. So the tour increases your chance of being found on the top sites people use most.  According to the NAR Report, 73% of buyers interviewed only one agent, and 82% of sellers interviewed one agent.  Win that silent interview and be the one agent they first come in contact with to win the listing, sale and purchase!  In the past month or so, I heard one of our agents got a new listing because that seller saw our tour on another listing and wanted the same thing for his home, so he contacted our customer.  One silent interview led to one call and one listing, all from one tour.

Remember, sellers were once buyers, and you never know who is looking at your listing and what their motivation is for looking.  It could be someone looking at your $300,000 listing to add to their rental portfolio, but they will be looking to downsize their mansion in 2 years, just as in Valerie’s case where the seller was looking to downsize to a smaller home.  So the more you can be seen in more places, with the content buyers and sellers want, the better.  

One final point I want to make.  We hear from some agents that they save the tour and the enhanced content for an important listing, or others have said the market has been so hot, why create this additional content when just putting photos into the MLS will sell the home.  Sure, the home will likely sell, but what is the opportunity cost of not getting those additional leads?  In Valerie’s case, had she just uploaded photos to the MLS, it would have cost her $75,000, all to save a few hundred dollars.  I’d take that return on investment any day, and that additional client paid for a lot of FloorPlanOnline tours in the future.  

Again, leverage your existing listing as and advertising vehicle for you.

According to NAR, sellers on average buy homes within 20 miles of their old home (it’s 15 miles for buyers), so each listing is an opportunity to parlay your existing listing into one, two or more deals by picking up free leads from the sites people use most due to FloorPlanOnline’s patented Brandkeepr functionality.  

Ultimately the winning formula to win more listings and to win the sale is to provide the content buyers and sellers want, namely interactive floor plans and 3D tours (as the Zillow Buyer research graph shows below).  Our most successful agents that list a lot of homes do the same thing every time, in hot or slow markets, regardless of price point, because consistency and exposure of the enhanced content sells not only the listing, but them.

Zillow buyer research
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