Hasten Team's Blog

Check thoughts and ideas of Hasten Team - best provider of Virtual Staging in the USA. 
You can find here some useful information for real esate professionals, and recent interviews as well!

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

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

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.

Buying a ticket for the VR & AR hype train? A technologist gets real.

This blog was first published on Shots, and is written by Creative Technologist Samuel Snider-Held.

VR and AR are the future, or so they say. With headlines like “2016 Will Be the Year That Sets the Stage for Virtual Reality” and “How VR Is Starting To Become Our Reality In 2017” taking over the hyper-saturated blogosphere, it might seem like VR and AR are the only technologies worth investing in. But, as a virtual and augmented reality creative technologist, I’m constantly telling clients and colleagues to question this sentiment.

I work on some of the world’s most forward-thinking VR and AR projects every day and wholeheartedly believe in the power of these technologies to alter, integrate, or create new experiences and memories. At the same time, it’s also my job to think critically about technology and what new tools are best suited to meet client objectives.

VR struggles with two things: sharing and distribution. Since digital advertising lives or dies by social, the question many brands face is, how do we share cutting-edge VR and AR experiences? The struggle is that these experiences are not inherently shareable. VR hijacks your perception of the world by creating an illusion for you and your eyes only. Unless the VR experience is broadened through another channel, such as a teaser video on Youtube for example, if you want to share it with your friends, they have to be as big as a VR geek as you.

So if you’re a digital strategist or brand manager stretching yourself to explore how you can engage with these tools, I encourage you to stop, take a breather, and first read this post. It might just be that the best tool for the job is another technology entirely.

The Next Big Thing — Social VR Integration

Currently brands are only interested in creating their own VR experience, instead of exploring opportunities surrounding the VR hype. Brands creating their own one-off VR or AR experiences in hopes of creating a new channel for brand awareness is like creating an entire branded social network or community. This was very popular in the early days of social media advertising, but now you advertise within these social networks instead of trying to replace them. The same will happen with AR and VR.

For example, while Facebook is working on their experimental VR social platform Spaces, there already exists social platforms like the Rec Room and Altspace where users can virtually join others and talk, play games, and create things. If you’re hell-bent on creating VR & AR content for your brand, this is the trend to watch. The social iterations of VR will have an infrastructure designed for you to tell brand stories. This will be much cheaper and easier than creating your own application, and you can see the beginnings of this in Facebook’s AR studio. And similar to the way much of our current work is focussed on creating content for existing platforms, we’ll be delivering VR & AR in this way.

Experiences Unique to VR & AR

It’s undeniable that VR & AR can create unique experiences and express creative ideas that are not possible with any other technology. So if you’re dead set on creating a VR or AR experience, then make sure that you play to the medium’s strengths.

Take for instance this mixed reality case: ASM: Into the Wild, the world’s largest mixed reality experience to date. Using AR markers to place tiny virtual objects or characters on your table has been around for ages, but this is different. Using Google’s Tango technology, a museum was augmented into a living rainforest. Walls were transformed into trees and corridors into forest paths and guests were given tablets which they could walk around and interact with endangered animals, something they can’t do in real life. The magic of AR is not just bringing bringing virtual animals to your dining room table, but to your entire environment.

Or perhaps my favorite example, Google Earth VR. Imagine having the whole planet at your fingertips, one moment deftly flying through the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan, and the next sitting peacefully at the top of Mount Everest. Taking data from satellite imagery and 3D photogrammetry, the environments in Google Earth VR are majestic, and are some of the most presence inducing in all of VR. There’s nothing more mind blowing than virtually standing outside of your apartment looking up at your window, knowing that you’re actually inside, decked out in VR gear. Furthermore, the experience really gets you excited about the VR’s future. If this is what it looks and feels like now, what will it look like 10 years from now?

The Future

But what about other VR experiences that could well and truly be useful for real life? In the automotive industry you could allow potential customers to drive through impossible test drives, while changing features and testing during the same experience.

Or, think about how VR can provide an amazing tool for training new professionals in technical fields.

What if you could train to be a wind turbine technician by running through a variety of possible scenarios before you ever step foot in one? Or, imagine learning a language. How useful would it be to simulate the feeling of language immersion by placing someone learning french in a Parisian cafe, and they can only navigate the experience by correctly pronouncing various phrases?

Or museums! Imagine going to the MOMA and seeing Jackson Pollock via an AR tablet ferverishly throwing paint at one of his canvases!

The possibilities are endless, but that doesn’t mean that every possibility is right for your brand. So before you spend a whole lot of your (or your client’s) money, ask yourself this. Why do you want to create a VR or AR experience? Do these technologies really provide your brand something better than other technologies? Or is your idea just a gimmick? If you’re looking for reach or engagement, then maybe wait a while. As the VR & AR markets mature, the channels for telling your brand stories will mature with them.