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You can find here some useful information for real esate professionals, and recent interviews as well!

3D Real Estate Photography Is Now A Reality - And A Must-Have

A rendering of a light-filled unit at the Hub, the 600-unit luxury rental complex at 333 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. Steiner NYC

A rendering of a light-filled unit at the Hub, the 600-unit luxury rental complex at 333 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. Steiner NYC

Tech disruption of the real estate industry shows no sign of slowing. From Zillow attempting inroads into agent-less offers to multiple players upending traditional broker-agent and agent-client relationships, real estate professionals ignore the changing business landscape at their own peril.

Another level of disruption has come in how clients discover and get to know properties. Until recently, online photos and video tours have been the gateway for potential buyers to narrow down the field of options for their new home. Google Earth and drone video allow us to get to know the neighborhood and the look and feel of the home itself, without the need to schlep across town or across the country to gather that crucial information.

But static photos and videos paint an incomplete picture. When a client arrives to tour the actual home, pictures often, one way or the other, don’t quite do a property justice.

Three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) is becoming one of the latest tech disruptors and Springs Homes, where I run sales and marketing, has embraced the disruptive capacity of this increasingly crucial tool. Here's how it works and some ideas for leveraging it in your own brokerage.

How To Use 3D VR As A Full-Service Brokerage

The visually all-encompassing nature of 3D VR has been a benefit in several ways: First, clients can see our listings in an immersive way, experiencing the home or apartment as if they are there. But 3D can also provide a valuable record of the condition of a property at a given point in time.

For a brokerage or property management team, this is a great way to head off potential conflict around condition before it starts. By creating a full record of the condition of a property, managers can go back and look at the data, account for normal wear and tear and make clearer decisions when a lease expires and new potential renters are exploring option. Buyers and renters appreciate knowing there is a record of what they are signing on to as well, so what is promised is what is delivered. We also use it for tradespeople who have visual confirmation of what needs fixing and where — the less guesswork in these situations, the better.

One benefit we didn't think of at first: for sight unseen leases, or when one spouse is not available to walk through the property, 3D VR is a great tool to expedite decision-making so the client doesn’t lose out on the opportunity to someone else.

Unsurprisingly, 3D VR can give your firm a competitive edge, from the listing appointment through the whole customer experience of the brand and level of service. In a 3D virtual tour, that pile of boxes, that hole in the drywall, has nowhere to hide. It encourages sellers to put their best foot forward and gives buyers and property managers the “same page” to work from in terms of the condition of the property.

New construction is another area a full-service brokerage will benefit from 3D VR. We use the 3D camera to take pictures and do virtual walk-throughs for clients in the building process. When a homebuyer or builder is relocating, the search, the purchase and the build process can be a logistical challenge. With a virtual walk-through, instead of the client needing to make multiple trips, they can simply take a 3D tour at major milestone points. This way, they can look at every nook and cranny on their own terms. Buyers also send these tours out to their friends and family to show progress, which is a special bonus. Our client feedback on this service is overwhelmingly positive, and it demonstrates to the builder that they are a true partner in the transaction.

My firm is now exploring the idea of using this technology to showcase what’s interesting and inspiring about a given neighborhood. The idea is to scan, say, an area rec center or club house, and offer the organization a link to the content created by us that they can share. At the end of the day, we want to be disruptive in the most positive ways possible.

Like any real estate brokerage should, we are keeping our eyes open for the next disruptor on the horizon — perhaps the “Smellovision Open House” app is coming next, with the scent of baking bread wafting through your VR home tour! For now, 3D VR can give your brokerage an edge and added confidence in your work and reputation as a trusted resource in any real estate transaction.

Originally written by Joe Boylan for Forbes

Virtual Staging for an Open House

Open House is a great way to get your property noticed. 

If you have ever held a Open House you are aware of the fact that bare walls don’t produce good impression. However, the bulky staging won’t encourage potential buyers to get the property either.

Moreover, estimation of the property scale is of great importance. It is not really possible when the room is stuffed with things that, besides, may not appeal to a client. 

You should plan everything beforehand including your budget. We believe you don’t want to waste thousands of dollars on staging the house with furniture and décor that will be removed afterwards, and in case the property won’t be sold you will have to pay for staging AGAIN. Is it worth it? 

Definitely not when there is such a unique and cost-neutral option as VIRTUAL STAGING.

There are lots of advantages to choose this method of presentation of possible interiors of your property.

First of all the prices are really attractive comparing to real home staging, the difference is just crazy. The average price for real home staging is $675, however, it is the cost only for stager’s service. A full staging will cost about 1% of the sale price.


With virtual staging you will spend a couple of hundreds of dollars that will be totally worth it as you can use the images not only for showing them to your client but also for putting them on your website and sale platforms such as StreetEasy, Trulia, etc.

Once we had an ASAP request from a real estate agent to virtually stage 3 photos: a master bedroom, a home office, a child's room. So the photos must have been done in… A DAY. Just to let you know, it takes about 18-30 hours per photo to recreate the space in a special program, choose preferable furniture and décor, place it into a photo and put it on a final render. Haven’t mentioned the time spent on corrections? (+ several hours depending on how quick the client’s feedback is).

So we threw all our forces to make it happen and it did. The work was quite intense, however, our main goal is to make everything possible to meet the demands of the client. 

Building a luxury business in a shifting market

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Jumping over hurdles to get to the closing table is nothing new for real estate professionals selling luxury properties; it’s practically in the job description.

They don’t let obstacles undermine their determination to complete a transaction, whether it’s the federal tax overhaul, which has turned luxury buyers into bargain shoppers looking for reduced prices to make up for higher taxes; or Chicago’s constant bids to increase the real estate transfer tax, which Realtor associations have managed to shut down for now; or buyers’ uncertainty about whether or not the market has bottomed out; or younger buyers’ preference for smaller spaces and the sharing economy.

Although market conditions and the political climate are making it tougher to move luxury properties quickly, these sales are still happening. The agents and brokers we spoke with for this article have all recently sold properties priced at at least $1 million in a matter of days. And they do it by knowing what today’s buyers want and presenting it to them in the right way.

Understanding — and explaining — the changing market

It’s important to set clients up for success by establishing expectations up front, according to Tommy Choi, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors and co-founder of Weinberg Choi Realty Keller Williams Chicago Lincoln Park. He gives buyers and sellers an “under the hood look at the market,” letting sellers know they need to be patient as luxury properties can take from nine months to a year to sell and explaining how similar properties are faring in the current market. For buyers, Choi said he takes time to explain what the valuation picture looks like in particular neighborhoods now and how property taxes can increase in this climate.

“Chicago is a world-class city, filled with opportunities for everyone,” Choi said. “The luxury market in each neighborhood provides its own definition of value. It’s not just the inside walls of a home. On a micro-level, each neighborhood brings its own amenities and history.”

In the experience of Joanne Nemerovski, a broker-associate with Compass Chicago, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast, DePaul and Streeterville are all regions of the city that have always sold better than others. “But now the West and South Loop, Bucktown and Wicker Park are all thriving,” she said.

Still, the luxury market is struggling. Choi said the non-luxury market in the city has been outperforming the luxury market for the past couple of years, in terms of closed transactions and median sales. He attributes the situation to the federal tax overhaul, an increase in local property taxes and sluggishness in the new-construction sector. Due to increased costs of land, labor and materials, new construction is priced at a premium and taking longer to sell. This has resulted in shadow inventory — resale homes that should be on the market but aren’t — because sellers are afraid their properties will suffer the same fate.

Part of making deals happen in shifting markets is understanding what buyers want. Knowing that an appropriately priced home with updated finishes sells quickly today, Kim Alden, broker and luxury specialist with Baird & Warner in Barrington, begins by asking sellers what’s more important to them: selling their home for the most money or selling it in the quickest amount of time? The goal, of course, is to do both but, sometimes they have to choose, she said.

Fulfilling wish lists

Overall, luxury buyers are not as interested in the size of a house as much as they are in finishes; they want a turn-key experience, said Joey Gault. The senior broker of The Wexler Gault Group at @properties in Highland Park noted that social media plays a role in buyers’ must-have lists as well. “They are so focused on everything they see online at Houzz or Pinterest. The good homes that are updated and fill buyers’ needs are selling.”

Gault’s team put two homes on the market in early March and both sold for top dollar — $1.15 million and $1.35 million — within the first couple of days. She credited the fact that each listing contained the most sought-after finishes for the quick sales. “It’s a formula: white kitchens, dark floors, quartz countertops and gray walls,” Gault said. “If you have it, your house sells.”

From the city to the suburbs, one commonality is that traditional buyers don’t want to handle home improvement projects. “It’s more of the investors who want to do renovations … but they are staying away from luxury properties, because the market time is greater and the investment is larger and riskier,” Alden said. She added that, in general, the luxury market has been slow but momentum seems to be accelerating into spring. “It was pretty non-existent last fall and picked up since the end of December and beginning of January, when interest rates went back down into the 4 percent range and people saw that as a buying opportunity.”

Marketing differently

In a two-week timeframe, Nemerovski sold three homes priced between $1.595 million and $2.595 million in the heart of Lincoln Park. “One sold within a day or two,” she said. “One had been on the market for a short time last year and we just reintroduced it and it sold in a day; and one I had on the market for quite a long time. We did a price reduction and that sold.”

The key to her success is targeted marketing. She considers whom the potential buyer of a property could be and aims postcards, flyers and social media ads at them. “For example, there’s a large home we’re trying to sell now,” she said. “I’ll try to find clients in townhouses in the immediate neighborhood and hope those people are ready to make a move up.”
However, Nemerovski never tries to convince anyone to make a move. “I want to help my clients compare the options and give them a real education so they can decide what works best for them in the real estate world,” she said. “An educated client never has buyer’s or seller’s remorse.”

Lately, Alden has been hosting open houses, something she has never done before at the luxury level. “I actually got a couple under contract through a luxury open house,” she said. “Buyers right now are searching online for basically everything and they feel very comfortable walking into an open house, whereas they might not be as comfortable calling an agent and setting an official appointment.”

Making listings sparkle online

At every sales meeting, Gault and her business partner, Beth Wexler, are reminded by Thad Wong, co-founder of @properties, that the first showing is always online. Only after the buyer has seen and expressed interest in the online listing can the second, physical showing happen.

That’s why they only post pictures online that show the home in a positive light. This can require effort on the sellers’ part when there’s a need to make their home look more current, especially in the crucial bathroom and kitchen areas.

While it may seem that wealthy sellers would be more willing to spend money on getting a home ready for sale, that’s not necessarily the case. “We want our clients to spend the least amount of money to get the best price,” Wexler said, noting inexpensive updates such as spray-painting cabinets white, painting walls gray and virtual staging can make a difference.
Originally a technique for unoccupied listings, virtual staging has become a way to empty out rooms of outdated furnishings and photoshop in on-point pieces to create a look that drives buyers to showings. “If we can get people in the door, we can sell,” Wexler said. “It’s not deceiving because it’s not the bones of the house, it’s just pictures.”

Creative deals and emphasizing value

The market is shifting and everyone is looking for a deal, according to Alden. “In my past recent sales, all of the purchase prices were well below the construction price or the last sold price. Buyers are trying to make up for the tax ratio by going in lower with price and attempting to get their taxes reassessed at the new purchase price,” she said.
Oddly enough, on more than one occasion, Alden has had potential buyers refuse to make an offer unless she could lower their property taxes; something she does not have the authority to do. “When you’re looking at a $2.5 million house and taxes are $60,000, it’s a lot to swallow,” she said. “In some cases, we have done reverse offers, offering a year of tax credits to help entice buyers to make that offer.”

Part of making luxury deals pencil out is determining whether or not financing will be necessary or beneficial. Recently, Alden had three luxury sales in Barrington Hills within five weeks, and also sold a luxury property in Highland Park that had been on the market for a long time. But the prices were all lower than the sellers wanted, and two of the three buyers paid in cash.

Looking back on all of her luxury transactions, Alden said about 80 percent were cash deals. “Maybe they think it’s a better investment to not be paying interest on it,” she said, noting the interest on a jumbo loan product, 15 to 30 years down the road, could cost more than the home itself.

In contrast, on the North Shore and in the city, Gault, Wexler and Nemerovski all said many clients are taking mortgages, even when they don’t need to, for the tax write-off. But as consumers settle in to the new realities of the tax reform bill passed in 2017, that may be less enticing than it has been in the past.

A barrier Nemerovski has come across is clients wanting to wait before taking the leap, because they are uncertain whether the market has bottomed out or not. “The only way to gauge it is based on experience,” Nemerovski said. If they really want the house and they’re making a long-term purchase, she tells them, “You can always resell or rent the home. You have to do what makes your family happy.”

In spite of all the obstacles, Nemerovski still believes people will always want to live in their own home and enjoy their creature comforts. “It will still be the American Dream,” she said.


by Melanie Kalmar

What to make of virtually staged listings

Out of sheer nosiness, I’ll occasionally look at listings in our building. One floored me: I had no idea our neighbors were so chic! Then I clicked the next photo and saw reality: a vacant unit with rusty radiators and peeling paint. It was virtually staged — digitally repaired and repainted, with new lighting, furniture and art added to the photos.

Welcome to the brave new world of virtual staging: no matter how terrible a place looks in person, it can be magically transformed for the Internet — with the help of a little computer-generated imaging.

It’s often hard to tell actual from imaginary space. Architects have always produced renderings, and agents stage with rented furnishings, but now it’s commonplace to do it all on the computer.

Scott Harris of Brown Harris Stevens likes it.

“Virtual staging is really helpful to give buyers a glimpse of the future,” he said. “New floors, new kitchens appear magically — all without a seller having to commit to doing that work before selling. Buyers often can’t see themselves in an unrenovated space. They need help with the vision part.”

Unlike some agents, Harris shows the unvarnished floors, too.

“We always show the actual condition,” he explained. “It’s important not to create a feeling of disappointment when buyers arrive. Our relationships with agents and buyers are built on trust and I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone. There are many opportunities for agents to grow buyers’ trust, and many ways to erode it. I wish all agents took the longer view, which requires truth in advertising.”

Here are four listings — three staged virtually, and one decidedly not

A one-bedroom at 167 Perry St. as it actually exists, above.

A one-bedroom at 167 Perry St. as it actually exists, above.

The same Perry St. apartment “virtually staged” with furnishings added via computer imaging.

The same Perry St. apartment “virtually staged” with furnishings added via computer imaging.

A one-bedroom, one-bath in a doorman co-op at 167 Perry St., with river views, a wood-burning fireplace and a small balcony is on the market for $1,399,000.

https://www.bhsusa.com/manhattan/downtown/167-perry-street-3n/coop/19267685

Virtual furnishings lend a hip feeling to this Hudson St. pad.

Virtual furnishings lend a hip feeling to this Hudson St. pad.

In far west Soho, a one-bedroom, one-bath with high ceilings and huge windows at 255 Hudson St. is for sale for $1,175,000.
https://www.bhsusa.com/manhattan/downtown/255-hudson-street-5f/condo/19401875

Festival virtual furnishings enliven this Upper East Side offering.

Festival virtual furnishings enliven this Upper East Side offering.

In Carnegie Hill, a two-bedroom, one-bath in a doorman building has a serene bedroom sporting the kind of complicated bed linens you rarely see in real life. $999,999.
https://streeteasy.com/building/60-east-96-street-new_york/6c

The real McCoy: The photo of this E. 50s flat features the actual furnishings.

The real McCoy: The photo of this E. 50s flat features the actual furnishings.

Nothing virtual about 434 E. 52nd St., a two-bedroom, two-bath with yards of built-in bookshelves, 13-foot ceilings, and a wood-burning fireplace, going for $1,695,000.
https://streeteasy.com/building/434-east-52-street-new_york/4e

BY MARTHA WILKIE

Select agents offering 3D views

Craig Neil

Craig Neil

Real-estate marketing continues to evolve exponentially. For decades, agents looking to advertise homes for sale had one option, besides planting signs in front yards: the print media. Then, in the mid-1990s, the advent of the internet shook the status quo. But that only offered a wider, and cheaper, exposure for Realtors’ still photographs. It took almost another two decades for dramatic advances to appear. Now Realtors are expanding their presentations with drone photography, virtual staging, and 3D tours.

The best 3D tours are a real step up from the “virtual tours” that appeared a few years ago. Those either seem stilted or tacky in comparison to the 3D tour, and sometimes turn out to be simply slide shows with music. The more naturalistic 3D tour allows you to move around in the room, and among the rooms, and zoom in to inspect details.

You either navigate with the computer mouse or arrow keys, or your finger with touch screens. Moving through a property on the smartphone can be more fun than on the computer, although you’re limited by the smaller screen size.

For a more immersive experience, you can get a pair of Google Cardboard goggles for $10 and view these house galleries in a realistic dimensionality.

All of these options are available for a few home listings at homesantafe.com, the website of Realtor Paul McDonald (Sotheby’s International Realty). “I do think there is an issue with the users’ familiarity with technology and their desire to do something like this, so it would seem to me to appeal to the younger of mind,” he said. “It’s pretty rare that someone has said they want to buy a house as a result of just seeing the 3D tour. Like other technologies that are tiptoeing in these waters, it’s more about the selection process.

“I think like any technology it’s kind of clunky at first; whether it ever gets to critical mass I don’t know. I have a good friend in business who said, ‘The problem with your industry is the delivery of your product: you have to get in your car and go out and see it.’ This gets us one step closer.”

McDonald has his own Matterport 3D camera. The Matterport has nine lenses: three down, three straight ahead, and three up. The photographer attaches it precisely level on a tripod, then makes a series of exposures in a circle, repeating the process at 30 or 40 locations in the house. When you later view the 3D imaging, there is a circular figure at each location and you can progress from one to the next to move wherever you want in the home.

The Realtor has heard that Zillow is testing a similar technology that would allow the average real-estate agent to assemble a dimensional home tour using an iPhone. “The other part of this technology is looking at it in terms of the three mantras of business — faster, better and cheaper — and if the Zillow model works, you don’t have to go buy a Matterport camera [for about $3,000] and it doesn’t take you a couple hours to do a house.”

The Matterport facility also offers viewers another perspective, focusing on the plan view, looking down on the room layout from above.

Check out the Tesuque Creek property listed on McDonald’s website and you see an example of virtual staging. “This is another technical aspect of marketing a home that’s not real, if you will. They take a CAD drawing, they select things they want to dress it up with [furniture, rugs, paintings on the walls], and then send it ovenight to India, using massive computing power, and when it comes back... you’re not going to believe it’s not really staged when you look at the image.

“I feel like these two technologies are competing in this arena. We see this virtual staging assisting new-construction projects. I’ve used it on a home that was empty and I wanted to get going on the marketing. I think these are both tools that we didn’t have a couple of years ago that are going to be with us forever.”

Another Realtor using the Matterport system is Craig Neil with Keller Williams Santa Fe Realty. He said the resolution of the Matterport pictures has improved to the point that the agent can often use captures from a 3D tour of a house for websites and even brochures. “You’re saving money because you don’t have to do both 3D and regular photography.”

Neil and his business partner Sarah Said own their own camera. “Sarah has been a Realtor for more than two decades but I’ve just been in real estate for two years,” he said. “I come from the tech side; I worked for Apple for three years and I worked with Google doing Google ‘business view’ shooting, which is linked to Google Street View. I used my Nikon D7000 with a wide-angle lens and I’d take three different exposures at four angles of a circle, then composite those 12 images together to make a circle and then connect them to other circles.”

Neil said he agrees with McDonald that the 3D technology appeals more to a younger audience. “I would guess 5 to 10 percent of people use this.

“The two things I think are of the most benefit to me as a Realtor is that for people from out of town who have seen the 3D tours, they’ve already walked through the houses and they know which properties they want to see. And most important, if they were here and walked through the actual house and later they can’t recall where the kitchen was. They contact me and I give them the link and they just go online and they can see it all.

“The market is so competitive right now that people want to get a head start. They see the listing come up and say, ‘We’re thinking of coming to Santa Fe in three weeks,’ and I have to tell them, ‘Well, that house is going to be gone in three days.’”

By Paul Weideman

Virtual Staging: Optimizing Vacant Listings as a Marketing Technology

As it is known, demand creates supply and real estate business is a perfect marketplace for introducing new technologies and marketing tools. Surely, people do want to buy and sell homes but let`s remember, that year after year consumer becomes more and more uncompromising.

Real estate virtual staging is not a new service, it first became available nearly 10 years ago, but at that period it was not very popular. And do you know why? Because the quality of virtually staged photos was far away from perfect, the colors were sharp and bright; furniture looked like it was taken from a graphically poor computer game.

Technically, they lacked the most important element, which guarantees virtual staging effectiveness – realism. But there is also another requirement virtual home staging should meet – it is intended to help the buyer to visualize his future home, to see himself living in it, to catch a feeling of sweet home, not just bare-walled construction. This aspect deals with psychology, here is important to influence buyer’s decision and that is the most challenging part of every business.

Virtual Staging Services – The Idea & The Way It Is Achieved

So, it becomes obvious that somewhat funny pictures with terrible graphics cannot reach out the buyer`s heart but, fortunately, 3D technology development does not stand still as well as the professionalism of 3D designers. Nowadays, these two have reached incredible heights and in 90% of cases, it is impossible to distinguish real interiors with ones modeled in 3D.

The process of creating virtually staged room is described many times on the web, so there is no necessity to go into details. The idea is to add virtual furniture, design and decor elements on the photo of a real vacant room, received from real estate agent. Before starting work on the project, сustomers are asked to send pictures of interior designs they like to make sure they will be satisfied with the style and general conception. It is also possible to replace existing furniture or to change colors or textures of walls, flooring, and ceiling. But this variation of virtual staging services is more expensive because it requires full recreation of initial design in 3D.

Internet And Money Rule The Business

Just a small question, where is real estate photography used to make much money? You all probably guess it right; the answer is real estate brokers websites!

Now we’ve reached the point of online listings because this is the area where virtual home staging can bring maximum benefit. Excessive explanations are unnecessary, photos of empty rooms look ugly and unattractive, the buyer sees just walls, floor, ceiling, windows and at the best they are in good condition.

Now imagine 10, 20 pictures of this kind. They do not cause interest because they are not special (we have already spoken about consumers hunger for all the most beautiful and outstanding). Nearly 80% of realtors proved that use of virtual furniture for real estate had increased online sales to a significant degree.

Virtually staged pictures developed by the professional talented designer are able to cause wow-effect being published online. It is the same with showing before – after photos, customers love to watch them so much and this is only to your, real estate agents, advantage.

Is a good product always expensive?

The price for virtual staging services varies depending on a number of photos, turnaround time and reputation of 3D visualization company. On average, in 2017, it is about $60-$100 per photo and, in fact, some real estate agents consider this price high. However, as always, everything is known in comparison.

For example, traditional staging is much more costly arrangement when realtor can pay up to $2000 for a house of medium size. In addition, physical staging implies monthly payments due to the contract, so if you sold the properties in some days after staging, you would pay for some months anyway.

Of course, you can save and not use the service at all and if you are patient enough to wait for some months to find the buyer this variant will go with you. After all, the growth of our business is our personal responsibility and it is up to you to choose the strategy of its development.

Original link

American Copper Exclusive Penthouse Virtually staged by Hasten

Let’s dive into one of our recent projects together!


The main task was to make the Penthouse look as a dream place to live in, furnish it in contemporary style with incredible attention to design and details, and use high-end materials and lighting.

Living and Dining area just had to look as good as panoramic river and midtown views outside:

We’ve designed 3 completely different Bedrooms: royal blue Bedroom, grey with emerald green bed, and Child’s Bedroom with pastel lilac accent wall.

Office, Foyer, Kitchen, and even 3 Bathrooms - all the rooms got new furniture pieces and decorative items in order to look welcoming instead of empty.

If the place is what you’ve been dreaming of, you can rent it here: https://www.boldnewyork.com/listings/220234 or https://streeteasy.com/building/american-copper-buildings/w-ph

Should You Consider Visual Marketing Tools for Your Business?

Visual content is in higher demand than ever before. There is no real estate company in the world that has not used any visual tools to market their property. It goes without saying that development companies can present their product only by means of 3D architectural visualization, 3D interior design renderings, cinematic flythrough videos, 3D virtual tours, etc.

So Why Should I Consider Visual Marketing Tools When Selling a Home?

A recent social media examiner report revealed that 74% of marketers use visual content in their social media marketing - even more than blogs. In fact, visual marketing is considered to be the second most important form of marketing content after blogs. What if it’s a combination of a blog post and a luxury virtual staging of an expensive apartment somewhere in Soho? No doubt it will grab potential buyers' attention. Fortunately, there are many awesome, yet affordable tools that can help your properties compete more effectively in the real estate market.

Virtual reality is drastically changing real estate marketing as well as social and online media have done once and for all. That is because our audience has also changed. Your clients are no longer willing to read your long-winded mailouts. You have about 3 seconds (as recent studies show) to capture their attention.

Real estate marketing is 85% image-based. It is a fact that visual content gets shared more often on Facebook, pictures are liked twice the rate of text updates, and videos are shared 12 times more often than texts and links on Facebook business pages. VIsual content is great for search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines now incorporate social signals into their ranking algorithms. The sites that have the biggest impact are Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, of course. By sharing visual content that increases your engagement rates, you are increasing your SEO.

Real estate professionals are constantly on the go, and most of you strive to find enough time to market yourself and your business. Luckily, Hasten, the leading virtual staging company in NYC, provides a vast variety of visual marketing tools for real estate that will be your time-saver. We will have a huge impact on your potential buyers together and will contribute to selling your properties faster. Augmented reality and real estate cannot exist without each other anymore.

Top 5 Visual Marketing Tools for Real Estate

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1. Virtual staging

Virtual staging for real estate has become an essential part of real estate marketing. 84% of top selling brokers in NYC use Hasten for virtual staging. Virtually staged images with a sophisticated touch is a much better solution than a bare, blank apartment with a window and a door.

Why does almost everyone choose virtual staging over real home staging? It is cheaper. It is faster. It looks way better.

Stop wasting your time and money on “luxury home staging”. Try the best virtual staging by Hasten. You are a 21st-century person!

2. 3D Architectural Visualisation

You don’t have photos or your property is full of bulk furniture? Is your property still in construction? Do you need a possible reconstruction option of an existing property?

These are the main benefits of the 3D architectural rendering. You do not need anything except the floorplan.

Impress your audience with high quality interior renderings. Hasten team can bring your boldest idea into reality.

We also provide 3D exterior renderings for development companies that help present your building better than any drone.

3. 3D Virtual 360ᐤ tours

Augmented reality is a total breakthrough in real estate marketing. You can smoothly guide your clients through high-resolution HDR panoramas, showing different design options of your property using your smartphone! Giving an immediate understanding of the space, layout, and feel will distinguish your listing among thousands of others. 3D walkthrough house interior can even allow you to hold a virtual real estate open house!

4. Flythrough videos

A cinematic real estate video is crucial for having a huge impact on your potential buyers. Hasten team creates eye-opening flythroughs and slideshows that is a peerless visual tool to showcase all the features of the property and sell its benefits to future residents.

5. Real estate professional photography

Proud to partner with best photographers in NYC who know the secret of giving potential buyers a reason to fall in love with the home.

Having an eye for detail and finding the best camera angles - they capture magic in every shot.

A true passion for photography is what makes their images extraordinary.

Are you still questioning “Why should I use this”? We can answer any questions you have at hello@hasten.me

Hasten Recently Featured As One of the BEST Virtual Staging Companies

Recently Hasten was featured as one of the “best of the best” virtual staging companies after being selected to participate in a test that was being conducted by Get LISTED Realty.

The test consisted of virtually staging 3 photographs of a vacant living room, dining room and master bedroom with minimal instructions. Here you can see how Hasten completed it.

Get LISTED Realty, judged Hasten and other virtual staging companies on the quality of their virtually staged photos, uniqueness of their staging choices and professionalism to work with.

We are proud to come out on top and the results of this test were consistent with Hasten’s values as a company.

It was an honor to participate in this exciting project that allowed us to showcase our services to the home selling community that visits Get LISTED Realty’s website.

Check out full story, the results of the project, and images staged by other virtual staging companies here: https://getlistedrealty.com/virtual-staging/

Rendering vs. Reality: Can These Virtually-Staged Photos of Available NYC Apartments Fool You?

Traditionally-staged listings against Hasten's virtually-staged apartments.

Traditionally-staged listings against Hasten's virtually-staged apartments.

Gone are the days of physically staging an apartment – well, mostly. Anyone who's been on the hunt for a new home has likely come across hundreds of virtually staged photos, many of which are obviously fake with disproportionate and cartoonish furniture, but some are incredibly realistic – they even fool us real estate professionals! The best we've seen come from Hasten (read our interview with Hasten's CEO Aleksandr Lanin here), an NYC-based company that 84% of top-selling brokers trust to produce life-like listings that sell faster. And if you don't believe us, get ready to put your skills to the test. 

Below, we've compiled a mix of listings, some of which have been virtually staged by Hasten and some that use the traditional (and costly) method of physically staging. At the end, take our Rendering or Reality quiz and see if you can decipher what's real and what's not.

1. 634 Washington Street, #3A – $1,150,000

2 Beds, 1 Bath | West Village    (Compass)

2 Beds, 1 Bath | West Village

(Compass)

4 Beds, 4 Baths | Carnegie Hill    (Corcoran)

4 Beds, 4 Baths | Carnegie Hill

(Corcoran)

2 Beds, 2.5 Baths | Chelsea    (Stribling)

2 Beds, 2.5 Baths | Chelsea

(Stribling)

1 Beds, 1 Bath | Greenwich Village    (Compass)

1 Beds, 1 Bath | Greenwich Village

(Compass)

1 Bed, 1 Bath | SoHo    (Compass)

1 Bed, 1 Bath | SoHo

(Compass)

2 Beds, 2 Baths | 1,392 SF | Harlem    (Compass)

2 Beds, 2 Baths | 1,392 SF | Harlem

(Compass)

2 Beds, 2 Baths | 1,323 SF | Fort Greene    (Stribling)

2 Beds, 2 Baths | 1,323 SF | Fort Greene

(Stribling)

5 Beds, 6+ Baths | 5,937 SF | Tribeca    (Corcoran)

5 Beds, 6+ Baths | 5,937 SF | Tribeca

(Corcoran)

Virtual Staging: An Innovative Way to Attract Buyers

As technology continues to improve, growing numbers of home sellers find themselves looking into the benefits of using virtual staging to help sell their home. But just what is virtual staging and how does it stack up against physically staging a home to sell?

As the name implies, virtual staging is done on the computer rather than in real life. This means that, unlike traditional staging, you don’t rent any furniture, decor, or accents. Instead, virtual staging digitally inserts all of those same items into photographs of empty rooms in the home. This, in turn, helps to attract potential buyers online to tour the home, where they can then use their imagination and consult the virtual staging photos in order to envision how each room would look with furniture inside.
 

Preparing for Virtual Staging

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One of the most important steps when preparing to virtually stage a home is to professionally photograph the rooms that will be virtually furnished. It’s crucial that these images are high-resolution to ensure that the final listing product is perfected for online buyers.

Make sure to remove any unwanted items before capturing each room on camera - this will speed up the process of editing. Once the photos are primed and ready for staging, the virtual stager can add furniture and decor to compliment the overall style of the home. High-quality listing photos improve the final staged product by giving the stager the opportunity to work with an ideal canvas.
 

Why Choose Virtual Staging?

Hasten_341_virtual_staging_NYC.jpg

Virtual staging has a number of benefits but the biggest is of course price. While staging an apartment in New York City the old fashioned way costs an average of $2500 per month, virtual staging typically costs between $39 to $199 per room. What’s more is that this fee is a one time cost as you don’t have to pay for renting furniture. As the average home for sale in 2018 stays on market between 34 to 53 days, this means that virtual staging could save sellers several thousands of dollars. And that’s not even considering that many stagers require a minimum contract!

In addition to saving money compared to traditional staging, virtual staging can also increase the value of your home as well. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 33 percent of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased its’ value by one to five percent when compared to similar homes that were not staged. Not only that but 39 percent of sellers’ agents said that staging a home greatly decreased the time it spent on the market.

Another pro of virtual staging is that gives sellers the opportunity to create a strong first impression with potential buyers. As Jen Williams, Redfin Market Manager, says, this is important because “buyers will imprint on the first photos they see of a home and will develop their first positive feelings and attraction to a property at that time.”
 

Important Tips

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If you choose to stage your home virtually, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, remember to provide potential buyers with photos of the empty rooms as well as their virtually staged counterparts. This will help to show buyers that the home they’re thinking of touring not staged in person so that they are not confused when entering the home.

Virtual staging can be an incredible asset when you’re selling a vacant home, or one that has wild-card tenants or dated décor. It allows potential buyers to view the right vision of the home – not empty, but one that’s comfortable and easy to live in.

Written by Angie Bersin

Heidi Klum Buys $5.1 Million Soho Loft Impressed by Hasten Renderings

heidiklum2.jpg

Heidi Klum finally bought a home in New York — now she is the new owner of a Soho penthouse loft. Although loft is in need of a total gut renovation, Hasten interior renderings must be a great source of inspiration.

Hasten 3D visualization for 515 Broadway

Hasten 3D visualization for 515 Broadway

Klum had previously stuck to the West Coast for her property holdings. The former Victoria’s Secret Angel paid $9.88 million for a nearly 12,000-square-foot Los Angeles mansion in 2013, per Variety, which she bought right after her split from ex-husband, Seal. The former couple had resided in an impeccably renovated eight-bedroom Brentwood estate, which sold for $24 million in 2014.

Loft 3D visualization by Hasten

Loft 3D visualization by Hasten

But now, Klum has paid $5.1 million for a top-floor co-op at 519 Broadway, which is part of a three-building complex that includes 515 Broadway and 84 Mercer Street. Klum used the limited liability company Hk East Coast LLC to complete the transaction.

hasten-new-york-virtual-rendering.jpg

The loft was listed by Edward Hickey of Compass and had been used as an authentic art studio for the past 30 years. However, it's unclear if Heidi plans to use it for business or turn it into her new home.

http://observer.com/2018/04/heidi-klum-buys-soho-loft-penthouse-new-york/

Drone 3D Models in Real Estate

drone 3d models in real estate

How Drone-Generated 3D Models are Changing Real Estate

Real estate and how it's sold hasn't changed all that much over the years, but the way sellers get buyers' attention has been revolutionized more than once throughout history. That's good news for both buyers and sellers, because it keeps things moving forward and helps real estate continue to evolve. As a business that's important for agents, but there's more to the story. People who are selling their homes and people who need homes are both focused on getting what they want from a transaction, and the more they can work together openly and honestly from the beginning, the easier that transaction could be.

Online Listings and Pictures Changed the Game

Before the internet took over, real estate was sold through print magazines and through going into a real estate agent's office and asking what they had available. Then buyers drove around to houses and took a look at them, trying to decide which one they liked best. Eventually they picked one, and the negotiations began. But when agents started posting listings and pictures online everything changed, and the way buyers found what they were looking for became different.

Seeing a Model From All Angles Can Affect Buyer Perspective

One of the ways that 3D models generated from drones could change the real estate game is through perspective. Buyers don't always see everything they want or need to see in the listing or pictures taken, and even driving by doesn't always give a complete picture of the house, yard, and surrounding area. With a 3D model generated by a drone, the buyer would be able to see the outside of the entire house, what's close by, the size of the house in relation to the yard, and other factors that can all change the buyers' perspective of what the house has to offer.

Great Looking Homes Could See Big Benefits

For homes that are already very nice, there could be big benefits to 3D drone models. This comes from giving buyers even more of a chance to love what the house has to offer, and from showcasing features that the buyer might not be able to see from the street. That can make a big difference in whether the buyer decides to choose that particular house, or whether they would prefer something else. In many cases, especially with high-end homes, a 3D model could help the house get sold even faster, and for a better price.

Sellers Can't Hide Defects and Related Issues

Another big benefit with 3D drone models is that sellers can't take outside pictures in strategic ways to hide big problems. They aren't able to make the house look better or the yard look bigger, because the 3D model will show everything that they tried to cover up. With this in mind, perhaps agents will stop thinking of external looks of a home in terms of "curb appeal" and shift their thinking toward "3D Appeal" or "Aerial Appeal". That can either steer buyers away or force sellers to choose a more realistic price point for their home. In either case, it can lead to the right buyer coming along and the seller getting the house off the market and into the hands of someone who really wants to buy it.

Making Fast, Informed Decisions Moves the Selling Process Along

By creating 3D, drone-generated models for homes that are for sale, the selling process may move along faster. The more buyers can get information on the home before they go to see it, the more they will research the home and get all of the knowledge they can about it. They may have mostly made up their mind to buy it by the time they contact an agent and ask to get inside. That speeds up the process, because the buyer doesn't have to wait for an agent to get back to them in order to get a lot of the information they really need to make the right decision.

Both the Buyer and the Seller Can Have a Better Experience

When a seller can move a home quickly and a buyer can find something they love fast, both parties benefit from the experience. Having a 3D drone model doesn't guarantee that buyers and sellers will be happier, but it does provide the opportunity for everyone who is party to the real estate transaction to get information, learn things up front, and not need to worry about a lack of transparency. In short, having everything on the table right from the very beginning makes buying and selling a home easier, faster, and less stressful.

Will the Standard for Real Estate Change With 3D Imaging?

Right now 3D, drone-generated imaging is far from standard. Most real estate companies and sellers don't offer it. But there are many good reasons to start providing it, and the indication is that it could change the face of real estate again. Eventually, using drones and creating 3D images may become standard, and when that takes place both buyers and sellers will be able to benefit from the increase in technology for their real estate transactions.

Take a 3-D Apartment Tour to See the Real Estate Listing of the Future

333 East 91st St Teaser Video

MANHATTAN — Real estate broker Bianca D'Alessio was taken by surprise when a woman relocating from Boston to New York called last week with an offer on a new condo in an Upper East Side building, saying she had already done a “walk through.”

D'Alessio never took the woman on a tour of the model apartment at the Gianna, at 184 E. 64th St., but the buyer felt as if she had already seen enough of space, since there’s a 3-D model of it on the building’s website.

“I received an offer based on a visual tour,” said D'Alessio, of Nest Seekers. “You can zoom in on the quality of the finishes and see the magnificent fixtures. As you’re ‘walking through,’ you can see the detailing on the closets. You can zoom in and see there’s a Toto toilet and a Sub-zero refrigerator and Wolf range.”

Offering 360-degree three-dimensional tours is taking the presentation of real estate listings to the next level, brokers said. The tours will soon become more commonplace as technology has made creating such virtual tours cheaper than ever, many believe. 

3-D listing (Image courtesy of GeoCV.)

"For your client [who is selling], you want to be getting the right people through the door," said Alessio, who began incorporating 3-D listings in June. "I think it even weeds some people out. When you have this tool, it's almost their second showing, and you know they're interested as soon as they walk through."

GeoCV has been offering its services — including the 3-D tour, high-quality photos and a dollhouse-like floor plan — to brokers like D'Alessio since June. It plans to unveil a do-it-yourself kit at the end of the year for brokers to rent or buy, with a special 3-D camera that attaches to a smartphone using the company’s custom-made rotation device, explained Anton Yakubenko, GeoCV's CEO and co-founder.

It takes about an hour per 1,000 square feet to do a photo scan of an apartment and two days to turn around the finished product. The company currently charges 10 cents per square foot for its services, with a minimum of $199 per listing.

“It’s really a disruptive price for the market. It costs two or three times more from others,” Yakubenko said about other companies offering 3-D services.

His company uses "new generation" smartphones with 3-D cameras, he said, and is moving toward using a regular smartphone with a special attachment. Other companies tend to use pricey special cameras rather than smartphones.

His company is also developing an application to create virtual-reality tours of real estate listings, which new developments are increasingly using to give potential tenants a better feel for how the spaces will look when finished.

The demand for VR, Yakubenko noted, is less than the 3-D model right now, since few people have VR headsets at home to view listings. But he envisions a future where brokers have headsets in their office or can bring them to clients’ homes.

“It’s time-saving for agents and clients,” he said of the tools that can cut down on unnecessary trips to open houses.

The 3-D tours even help apartments that may need work and don’t show well in photos, he said.

“An agent was selling a townhouse needing significant renovation. He wanted buyers to understand the work involved,” Yakubenko said.

While some homes in similar condition often languish on the market, this particular townhouse, in Crown Heights, sold in a couple of weeks, he added.

D'Alessio agreed that more transparency can help apartments with potential pitfalls.

“It’s better to know what you’re walking into than be surprised,” she said.

Originally written by Amy Zimmer dnainfo.com

CityRealty Interview with CEO of Hasten

Aleksandr Lanin, CEO of Hasten, and one of their virtually-staged units

Aleksandr Lanin, CEO of Hasten, and one of their virtually-staged units

Anyone trawling through apartment listings may have noticed the upsurge of virtually staged apartment photos. The technique has proven to be a cost-effective and speedy alternative to traditional methods of staging vacant units. For those of you not fully warmed-up to the computer-aided technique, your reservations are understandable. Photos are the most important element to viewing listings online and we’ve all seen unappealing virtually-staged photos with disproportionate furnishings and unrealistic treatments. However, over the years, the realism produced by virtual staging companies has vastly improved – to the point many of the images are indecipherable from real photographs. 

In New York City, Hasten is one of the companies leading the way in producing life-like listings furnished remotely through renderers and computer programs. Their website touts that 84% of the city’s top-selling brokers use the company for virtual staging and that their net turnaround time is an incredible 12 hours. We had a quick chat with Hasten’s CEO, Aleksandr Lanin, to get the scoop on virtual staging and its price and time advantages over traditional methods.

One of the units virtually staged by Hasten, before image shot by Ralph Modica

One of the units virtually staged by Hasten, before image shot by Ralph Modica

Can you give me a brief overview of your company? 

Hasten's virtual staging department was founded in 2014, and nowadays more than 25 specialists are involved in the field of 3D visualization, architecture, design, and programming only for virtual staging itself. There are also analysts who track trends in design and advanced tools for working with 3D graphics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. More than 3,500,000 agents and photographers have contacted us since 2014. We contribute to the realization of more than 115 apartments per month only in New York.

Apartment at 400 Fifth Avenue staged by Hasten

Apartment at 400 Fifth Avenue staged by Hasten

How did you find your way into staging interiors and how long have you been doing them? 

Until 2014, we were engaged in visualization of interiors and exteriors, and acted as designers, working on the stylistics of the premises. Then, agents from different real estate companies of New York began asking us to work on their listings. At some point, we realized that we enjoy doing staging - now we spend over half of the whole workflow on it. Every year it becomes more and more actual in the sales process.

Before applying of 3D Visualization 

Before applying of 3D Visualization 

Result after 3D Visualization made by Hasten

Result after 3D Visualization made by Hasten

What is the cost of a virtually staging a single room and what's the typical turnaround time? 

The price ranges from 49-59 dollars, when the agent trusts us with the development of the concept and design of the room, and wants to receive the processed photos as quickly as possible. And does not exceed $150 for large rooms, as well as for the rooms where you need to do some 3D visualization. 

Our turnaround time record was when we delivered a client's images in 3 hours after the receipt of all the necessary details and materials. Typically, however, it takes 24-48 hours. The turnaround time depends on the agent's preferences, the number of photos, and the quick feedback —the more fluid the correspondence, the faster we understand of what client really wants.

Hasten staging of the outer space.jpg

The overall benefits are fairly apparent, but can you brief us on the advantages of virtual staging over physical staging? 

Physical staging has several drawbacks compared to the virtual staging: the price certainly, the limitations of types and sets of furniture, sometimes it is not possible to realize physical staging appropriately for luxury apartments -- furniture has to fit the style, and decor should be high-end, etc. 

The main advantages of virtual staging, however, are speed and convenience. Prior to our technical work, all the agent just needs to send us photos of empty rooms, describe preferences, choose favorite furniture sets and wait until the processed photos are ready. The speed, diversity, and simplicity of digital technology greatly outweigh the laborious solutions of the past.

Hasten virtually staged property.jpg

What's been the overall feedback from clients? Have you measured the response between staged photos vs non-staged photos

Judging from our client feedback, sometimes a prospective buyer/renter can be found the same day when the listing with staged photos was posted on real estate websites. Usually, it takes a week or two. We’ve had customers who could not sell an apartment for more than six months or a year using unfurnished photos, and the number of calls and requests dramatically increased the same day the photos were improved to virtual staging. So, we can say with certainty that the popularity of the listing grows exponentially, compared to the usual empty room photos — they just do not catch your eye, unlike the staged images.

staging Hasten.jpg

What are some of your favorite furniture pieces to stage with? Do you have different collections for varying tastes? 

The most important thing for us in the working process is to keep the harmony in form, color, and the materials used. In most of our works we use 3D furniture models of well-known brands such as Scavolini, BoConcept, Minotti, Poliform, etc. Working on the project, we do not adhere to the concept that all components should belong to the same manufacturer. Each project is treated individually, and both furniture and decor depend on the interior itself. 

In some cases, the client chooses their own furnishings, indicating this preference from the onset. After receiving a draft version of the work, the client makes corrections, and only until everything suits him/her, the final image is signed off on. The last word belongs to the client — we always provide our customers with what they want. That allows us to be the best in our business.

Originally written by Ondel Hylton for CityRealty and 6sqft.

3D videos: A new way to tour NYC real estate up for sale

Home hunting is no game, but some real estate agents say virtual reality can curb the back-and-forth of the chase and make the pursuit more manageable.

After toying with the technology for years, many New York agents use 3-D video tours to showcase condos and other homes available for purchase.

But a number of agents said crafting full-scale presentations for forthcoming residences remains risky.

Many noted virtual reality videos can help agents narrow down where to take clients, particularly international buyers. The technology allows viewers to enter a simulated three-dimensional environment, where, in many cases, they can get a sense of how things would look as they walk through a home and turn their head in various directions.

VR tours can be simple, online presentations that anyone can access, models that require just a downloadable smartphone app and a cardboard case for the phone, and more intricate tours that rely on special headgear or goggles. When such high-tech gear is needed, agents often offer their clients virtual viewings in their offices.

“In VR video you can’t hide wires, and you can’t hide lights, so everything is as it is,” said Randy Baruh, a real estate agent with Corcoran. “You see a lot of photos ... and everything is perfect, and it’s not really exactly what it’s going to look like.”

Halstead hired staff to create 360-degree videos for about four to five homes a week that may then be viewed on the firm’s website.

But Halstead’s chief marketing officer Matt Leone said it has only worked with a few clients interested in creating a virtual tour for not-yet-complete residential projects, which Halstead is not set up to do in-house.

“That expense is probably not worth it at this juncture, based on the development cost, unless it’s a very expensive space,” Leone said.

Eydie Saleh, a salesperson at Mirador Real Estate, argues the costs have already dropped enough to make it economical, as long as developers view the virtual tours as the primary marketing tool, and not a bonus tactic.

She persuaded a development firm planning condos in Park Slope to avoid the common tactic of renting space where prospective buyers are invited to tour a model unit.

Instead, Saleh will send floor plans to a tech company that will create a remote-control navigable virtual tour, which Saleh says will appeal to the millennial generation that grew up playing video games.

“It saves an enormous amount of money — like hundreds of thousands,” said Saleh, who plans to show samples of materials available in condo bathrooms and kitchens alongside the VR tour in her office.

For not-yet-built projects, virtual reality services at Anyworld start at $3,000 for a condo and vary, depending on whether the virtual reality agency is showing the exterior as well as the interior, or adding furniture and making other staging decisions.

By contrast, Anyworld’s founder Filip Baba said the company charges 25 cents per square foot for videos of existing homes, which means a typical, 1,000-square-foot condo can be done for just under $300 — or about the cost of hiring a professional photographer.

He said VR technology is not yet cost-effective for many rentals, but that may soon change.

“If you study the history of even regular real estate listings, photos were even a big deal and it took a while to even roll that out,” Baba said. “I predict the consumer market will demand [virtual reality] more within a couple of years.”

Originally written by Sarina Trangle for amNewYork

4 Ways Virtual and Augmented Reality Can Reshape Real Estate

Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

VR and AR technologies can help real estate agents save time and deliver a more alluring experience for clients.

Imagine being able to take an open-house tour of a home for sale in your town without actually driving to the property; or, while walking your dog, taking a photo of a house in a nearby neighborhood and finding out how much it last sold for. These kinds of experiences are coming from a real estate agent near you, if they haven’t already.

Virtual and augmented reality are poised to grow in all kinds of industries in the years ahead, from manufacturing and logistics to healthcare. IDC predicts that worldwide revenues for the VR/AR market will reach $13.9 billion in 2017, which would be an increase of 130.5 percent over the $6.1 billion spent in 2016. The research firm expects to the market to then explode over the next few years, reaching $143.3 billion in 2020.

While VR produces a computer-generated reality that users can interact with (usually via a headset), augmented reality involves digital information being brought into a user’s field of view and overlaid onto the real world, which they observe usually through a smartphone’s camera.

One industry that VR and AR have already started to transform is the real estate business. Long associated with in-person tours and the enticement of empty apartments or houses (preferable to those filled with the current owners’ furniture), house hunting stands to gain as AR and VR make the process more convenient for real estate agents. The technologies can also deliver a more engaging experience for potential buyers and lead to increased sales.

Here is a quick primer on the ways in which VR and AR can reshape the real estate market.

1. 3D Tours Offer an Immersive Experience

Virtual reality allows real estate companies to provide prospective buyers with immersive, 3D tours of propertiesMatterport, a 3D camera technology company, is working with web-based real estate firm Redfin to provide 3D walkthroughs.

“We’re making a digital copy of the inside of the world,” Marc Rehberger, Matterport’s director of commercial real estate, told Forbes. “It increases the amount of time spent on an ad between three to six times when there’s a Matterport model on that ad. ... It’s very, very sticky.”

Matterport has scanned more than 550,000 properties since it started in 2011, and the company, according to Rehberger, is “supplying a dimensionally accurate model of the space exactly how the human eye would see it. People who are investing, people who are using [and] people who are buying love the ability to understand the space because it’s natural. It’s exactly the way it is.”

Prospective renters in Arlington, Va., can now tour apartments using VR. Developer CRC is partnering with Immerse Virtual Reality Nation to create a VR tour of a new apartment building still under construction, according to an ARLNow report. “Using an HTC Vive headset with two motion sensors, residents can experience a realistic, 360-degree home tour of what their apartment will look like after construction,” the site reports.

Such tours cans save real estate agents time. “Ask any agent about the time suck involved in showing clients houses,” John Mazur, CEO of real estate app Homesnaptold Forbes. “VR/AR is going to change the game here and allow potential buyers to ‘experience a home’ at another level and better filter out homes they do/don't like, saving agents time.”

2. Digital Furniture Lets Buyers Make a Space Their Own

Open houses often mean that potential homebuyers are walking through a house fully furnished by the owner who is selling. AR allows potential buyers to see the home with their own furniture or styles in mind.

Virtual staging technology company roOomy allows buyers to visualize any apartment or room in a house in the way they would want to decorate it.

“Drawing from a catalog of more than 100,000 furniture and household items, roOomy allows you to upload a picture of a room and virtually decorate it to reflect your personal tastes,” Forbes reports. “Agents, investors and buyers alike can take advantage of these amazing tools.” RoOomy works in concert with Google’s Tango, an AR technology.

3. Virtual Walkthroughs Sell Buyers on an Unbuilt Location

VR can also help backers of a real estate project visualize the property for potential buyers before construction even starts.

One company, Virtual Xperience, uses 3D modeling to let users wearing VR headsets access full walkthroughs of properties that are in development or under construction.

Developers can use the company’s technology to create customized color palettes, materials, furnishing and lighting conditions, to help buyers personalize and visualize the unbuilt properties, Forbes reports. The company offers 2D images, 3D walkthroughs and a 3D flythrough video experience.

“As a developer, it's often hard to have a prospective buyer visualize the end product. This causes longer sales times, reduces the ability to pre-sell projects, leaves funds stuck in projects longer and delays the cycle,” Ridaa Murad, founder of Breakform Realty Ventures, told Forbes. “With VR/AR, you can now show prospective buyers what the end product will be, adding a concrete level of tangibility and increasing the ability to pre-sell projects.”

4. Gets Details on a House While Walking Your Dog

Want to get the details on a house you like in the neighborhood without looking up the listing? Realtor.com’s updated Android application now has a feature called Street Peek that uses AR to display details about a home when users point their phone's camera at it. “Even if the house isn't for sale, you'll still see all the important details from the real estate website's database,” Engadget reports. The app offers details like listing or rental price, recently sold price, estimated value and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the house, and can even deliver that info on groups of houses at the same time.

Originally written by Phil Goldstein for BizTech

How to Sell a House: 6 Tips to Entice Buyers in Record Time

Most homeowners about to put their place on the market are most concerned with two things: getting a good price and unloading their property as quickly as possible. After all, time is money, right? The last thing you want is for your home to sit on the market for months without any viable offers.

Below are six shortcuts you can take to make selling your house easier and faster. None of 'em will break the bank. In fact, some of these efforts don't require any cash at all.

1. Shrink your staging costs

Staging your home, which entails hiring a decorator to make your house aesthetically appealing to a prospective buyer, usually pays off big-time. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than unstaged ones. But staging can be expensive.

Stagers typically charge $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per room. Most professional stagers also require a three-month minimum contract, even if you sell the home in 24 hours, says real estate professional Crystal Leigh Hemphill.

So, if you were selling a 2,000-square-foot home, staging it could cost you over $7,000—ouch!

If you’re on a budget, there’s a cheaper alternative. Virtual staging is a service where tech-savvy professionals take photos of empty (or poorly furnished) rooms and then use photo-editing software to add pretty couches, tables, and other furnishings. These doctored photos can make your online listing more appealing to home buyers. The best part? Virtual staging costs only around $100 per room—and there’s no extra charge per month, because you’re not renting furniture.

Whether you opt for real or virtual staging, make sure you don’t overlook the foyer, because 80% of prospective buyers said they know if a home is right for them within seconds of stepping inside, a recent survey by BMO Financial Group found.

2. Boost curb appeal

Home buyers form their first impression when they pull up to your house. It’s no surprise, then, that curb appeal—how your home looks from the outside—can boost your property's sales value by up to 17%, a Texas Tech University study found. Yes, primping your home's exterior can set you back, moneywise. For example, professional landscaping (which can include installing a stone walkway, planters, shrubs, and trees) costs an average $3,219, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

To cut costs, you can opt for a less-intensive standard lawn care treatment—including six applications of fertilizer and weed control—which costs on average $330 but yields a whopping 303% return, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2016 Remodeling Impact Report. Or roll up your sleeves and tend to the front yard with your own two hands. (Pro tip: Many cities offer free mulch to residents, says Sarah Hutchinsonof LandscapingNetwork.com.)

3. Forget about snail mail marketing

While some real estate agents still recommend sellers send mailers to people in the community to announce their new listing, direct mail costs money. A free alternative is social media marketing—promoting your listing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You could even create a Twitter account for your house like this savvy real estate agent in a Chicago suburb.

To increase how many shares your listing gets, include a video tour, floor plan, and professional photos with your listing.

4. Brighten up the living space

No buyer wants to walk into a dark, dreary house. Fortunately, there are several low-cost ways you can improve the lighting in your home. Wall mirrors amplify light, so install a few throughout the home (for example, over the fireplace, behind the dining table, in the master bedroom). Swapping out lightbulbs for ones with higher lumens can also "up the intensity of light in the room,” says New York City designer Jack Menashe. And make sure you remove or push aside heavy drapery in order to let in more natural light.

5. Promote energy-efficient upgrades

Making your home more energy-efficient—say, by insulating the attic, installing a programmable thermostat, or weatherstripping doors and windows—can be a huge selling point to home buyers. After all, a typical American family spends nearly $2,000 a year on their home energy bills, according to Energy.gov; much of that money, however, is wasted on air leaks and drafts.

So, if your home’s energy bills are considerably low, you can provide prospective buyers with an energy audit—a $200 to $400 report from a professional that shows just how energy-efficient your home is. In fact, home buyers are willing to pay more for a home that has lower utility costs; on average, they’ll shell out an additional $10,732 upfront to save $1,000 a year in utilities, the National Association of Home Builders reports. That might explain why 94% of home buyers recently surveyed by NAHB said they want Energy Star–rated appliances.

6. Build buzz in advance

You need to do everything you can to get people talking about your house before it hits the market. This includes promoting your home on all your social media channels, sending a mass email to your network, and knocking on neighbors’ doors. Another clever way to build buzz is to have a garage sale, where you can drum up interest and sell some of your old "junk." (Bonus: Clearing out your house will make it easier for you to move later.)

Meanwhile, your real estate agent should be spreading the word that your home is coming on the market soon to clients, investors, developers, and other agents. Who knows—you might even receive an offer before your scheduled listing date and avoid the hassle of putting your house on the market altogether.

Originally written by Daniel Bortz for realtor.com

Strategies that sell — and fast

Keller Williams Realtor CC Underwood reveals how solid marketing can get homes sold quickly.

Underwood’s advice

  • Always hire a professional photographer.
  • Virtual staging can replace actual furniture.
  • Don’t let dated colors turn off buyers, repaint.
  • Fill the MLS listing with helpful information. Buyers shop online and want information.
  • Open houses are a great way for real estate agents to get leads.

Time is money, as the saying goes.

Keller Williams Realtor CC Underwood explained how proper marketing can expedite the homeselling process at the Northeast Florida Builders Association Lunch & Learn in May.

Skillful online marketing is critical, Underwood said. If buyers don’t like what they see online, they won’t schedule a showing.

“In all price ranges for every 10 showings, you should have one offer, if not more,” she said.

“Your marketing is your brand,” Underwood said. It’s essential that the branding reflect the quality of the product. 

She acknowledged that marketing can be costly, but the investment will be beneficial in terms of reducing how long the home sits on the market.

As the industry changes, marketing strategies have evolved as well. For example, today’s buyers want to view videos of listings.

“If you’re not willing to change with the industry, then you are going to be left behind,” Underwood said. “You’ve got to constantly innovate and do it. Sometimes that means spending money.”

Photo advice

Always hire a professional photographer to take photos of the property, Underwood said. 

There are seven images buyers want to see: the front elevation, the backyard, the pool, the kitchen, the master bedroom, the master bath and the family room. 

Be sure the photos reflect the true colors of the exterior and interior of the home. Interior shots can be tricky because of lighting.

Include aerial photographs, especially if the home is in a golf community or there are other distinct neighborhood amenities.

For new construction, Underwood advocates interactive videos, such as live, on-site walk-throughs. Educational videos about the overall product or specific features, such as showcasing available lots, are another option. 

Ideally, the videos should be between 60 seconds and two minutes long, Underwood said. They can be posted to Facebook or YouTube. 

Staging and updates

Certain colors, such as red — a trendy color in the late 1990s and early 2000s — and patterns, such as florals, will date a home. Paint is an easy, inexpensive update. 

When the significance of color is explained in terms of dollar value, sellers aren’t opposed to painting, Underwood said.

Many million-dollar homes sitting on the market are too dated for the price the sellers are asking, Underwood said. That’s a conversation the professional must have with the client.

Homestaging also can have a significant impact. For vacant homes, Underwood suggests virtual staging rather than filling the home with furniture. 

Because many buyers rely on online photos when home shopping, virtual staging uses computer technology to add furniture and other décor to photos of listings. At a cost of about $35 per room, “it’s completely worth it,” she said.

For model or luxury homes, Underwood prefers in-home staging. If the home is less than $500,000, she suggests staging only the main rooms: master bedroom, dining room, a study, an office, breakfast nook and family room. Patio furniture is another option. 

Staging, though, can be overdone, Underwood cautioned.

“There’s a fine line between staged and too much,” she said. Don’t place items on top of kitchen cabinets, for instance, because it can adversely affect the perception of space, making the area look smaller. 

MLS 

Today’s buyers are information-seekers, and by providing documentation up front on the Multiple Listing Service, the seller can both demonstrate the property’s value and reduce the back-and-forth conversations about specifics.

“Most buyers are looking online three to six months before they actually purchase and contact a Realtor,” Underwood said.

For example, the cost of utilities is asked by many buyers. Include a utility sheet that lists the average cost, as well as information such as the electric company, cable provider, homeowners’ association dues and lawn maintenance company. 

If there’s a pool on the property, include the cost of upkeep and the company the seller uses for maintenance. 

“These are the true fees and factors that are going to make up the buyer’s mind because they’re thinking payments,” Underwood said. 

Have the seller create an upgrade sheet and their cost. With resales, buyers tend to have a disconnect between an upgrade and its value, Underwood said.

If the home doesn’t have a pool, have a designer draw some design specs for one and post it on MLS. “They can’t visualize it if they can’t see it,” Underwood said. 

The seller also should write a letter for potential homebuyers that describes the property and the community. The seller can highlight annual community gatherings and provide an overall impression of the neighborhood.

 Also, include details such as room dimensions and the school district.

“People are making decisions based on the school district,” Underwood said, “And if you either advertise it wrong or don’t advertise it at all, you could be missing buyers who are searching by school district.”

Social media

Underwood places high value on Facebook as one of her team’s top three sources of business for both buyers and sellers. 

Posts that generate the most traffic are “coming soon” and price reductions. Open houses and featured listings also make effective posts. 

Unless it’s a highly sought area such as Nocatee, for example, the Underwood team seldom includes the location of the home. 

Underwood added that her team will boost their Facebook posts, but they rarely use the Facebook ads feature. 

Open houses and prospecting 

Underwood strongly advocates open houses. To execute a successful open house, preparation is essential, she said. Promote the open house and invite people, including the neighbors.

Neighbors also can provide promising leads. If a new listing becomes available, let the neighbors know someone in their neighborhood is selling their house and ask if they know anyone who might like to live there. 

An additional strategy is to market the listing to surrounding neighborhoods to let them know about the opportunity to move up in a nearby community. “Typically, people stay close,” Underwood said. 

Originally written by Carrie Resch for http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/

Real Estate Firm Adding Virtual Reality To Every Office

Virtual reality may be noted for its gaming capabilities, but businesses are starting to look at it as a component of their business.

One major use identified is in real estate, where one global real estate firm has jumped into virtual reality with both feet.

The details of the why and how were detailed at the recent MediaPost IoT Marketing Forum by Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers, a luxury real estate company based in Germany with its North American headquarters located on Park Avenue in New York. The company has 9,000 real estate advisors in 750 locations around the world.

Virtual reality may not be as big as augmented reality, as I wrote about here yesterday (Facebook, Snapchat Power Augmented Reality Well Past VR), but it is growing rapidly.

In his presentation, Hitt said that 171 million people will be using VR hardware and software by next year, making it an attractive option for the firm.

“Something happened about a year ago that changed the landscape,” Hitt said. “The New York Times distributed 1 million Google Cardboard viewers to the market. A lot of us in the virtual reality space believe that was the tipping point. That’s when, all of a sudden, there were enough consumers out there for this to make sense.”

The real estate firm built a VR platform for a new experience and selected a Ricoh camera and then outfitted all of its North American locations with the camera and its own version of Google Cardboard viewers, Engel & Volkers branded, of course.

This came to less than $1,000 per location. “For less than $1,000, we were now in virtual,” Hitt said.

Real estate shoppers now can go into any Engel & Völkers office, put on the viewers, and see any of the real estate listings and tour the properties via virtual reality. The real estate broker simultaneously sees what the shopper is seeing on a separate screen, so they can aid in the virtual tour.

The company decided to get 90% of its listings on VR within the first 90 days of launch, and is now halfway there and halfway through the time, Hitt said. The process involves re-photographing every listing.

“We’re already the first real estate brand in the world to have this virtual experience,” Hitt said. “Our offices in the rest of the world are doing the same thing.

“Virtual reality is something that’s here now.”

Originally written by Chuck Martin for mediapost.com