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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. 

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

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

Selling the World, Virtually

Spatial computing is beginning the slow crawl to maturity. As the technology develops into something simultaneously more complex and also more stable, new areas of possibility open and grow. Since the beginning, avid enthusiasts have seen hope of a reformation of the real estate industry with the help of spatial computing, but it’s only now that real solutions are starting to be feasible.

Augmented reality projection rooms. Virtual reality walkthroughs. Mixed reality remodelling. These are just some of the potential ways that the act of buying and selling property will begin a seismic shift. We’ve collected five different projects that are using spatial computing to revamp real estate — plus, our breakdown of how successful we think they will be.

#1. 360 Walkthrough

The idea of a 360 walkthrough isn’t new, but until recently the technology has limited these “previews” to a flat experience. You could view a home on your computer, running around a space using the same drag and drop technology that Google Maps used to let us explore the world. Thanks to head mounted displays, those 360 walkthroughs are now even more immersive, and because 360 cameras have gotten so cheap and easy to use, every realtor can and should be adding a 360 walkthrough to their listings.

Because the cost of entry is so low, 360 walkthroughs are still a smart place to start, but this technology is quickly being overshadowed. There’s no real sense of immersion, since your point of view is limited to wherever the camera was initially placed; viewers don’t have the freedom to walk around, putting themselves in corners or experiencing the room from any angles the camera didn’t capture. We doubt this technology will survive more than five years, though for now the cost of hardware for alternative options will keep it afloat.

#2. Lightfield Volume Capture

Speaking of alternative options — we’re a little obsessed with light field volume capture at Hammer & Tusk, but it’s hard not to be. These cameras capture 360 video with 6 degrees of freedom, which means they can reproduce a location in photorealistic detail, and then let a person wander through that space. While creating video with this technology is still in the “so many hurdles to overcome” camp, the great news is that still pictures are ready for their mainstream debut.

There are a ton of companies working on this hardware, but none that we know of specializing specifically in adapting it for real estate. It’s a wide open playing field.

#3. Building in a Virtual World

Getting to consumers is a huge part of real estate, but what about creating buildings in the first place? If you’ve ever seen someone painstakingly hand-paint 400 tiny fake trees to put on the outside of an architectural model, you know the discipline is rife for disruption. Enter software like Vividly, which lets you create life-sized 3D models of real estate.

0-2Sw2hvB4CHBXhCvr.png

Walk through your creations, share them with colleagues or clients, and even convert existing 3D models from traditional architectural software. The world is your oyster!

#4. Remodelling the Future

Okay, so you’ve bought a house, but now you want to see what it would look like with granite countertops instead of marble; or maybe you want to knock down that wall into the kitchen and create a pass-through. If that’s the future you’re imagining, you’re not alone! So many people are entering this space that it’s hard to call out just one or two.

IKEA will be taking on remodelling thanks to Apple’s ARKit, which will improve the quality and ease-of-use of previous offerings that IKEA has tested over the years.

Cadsoft is a less proprietary company; no matter which construction company you’re using, or where you’re getting your fixtures, Cadsoft will create 3D renderings and provide them for viewing in a headset or on your computer. VR viewings avoids the mobile-first issue of realism, but adds on the headache of needing the right hardware, which is solved by the backup plan of computer mockups.

The upside of this technology is that you don’t have to try to picture how a remodel will look; the downside being that you still need some imagination to turn these digital creations into their life-life alternatives.

#5. The CAVE

This technology is not technically being used for real estate today, but it has huge potential for future use-cases. CAVE is an open-source software system paired with projector hardware that primarily exists in university research settings.

Think of it has a modern Holodeck — a large room whose walls are actually rear-projection screens or flat panel displays. The images on the walls are controlled by the motion of the person inside the CAVE, allowing a sense of real immersion as the room moves realistically along with the user.

The applications for real estate are incredible. Imagine going to your realtor’s office, and instead of driving around the city to thirty showings, you could walk into the CAVE and see every home from there. You would walk around a pre-filmed environment, check out the layout, even peer into cupboards! As long as a camera captured it, you could view it.

The strength of this technology is the ‘teleportation’ factor, and the ability to have more than one person experiencing the virtual environment at the same time. Downsides are that you’re still restricting to four walls and a small space, so things like moving up and down stairs will never feel entirely real. Plus, these setups require motion-capture technology and head-mounted displays, so comfort and setup would be a concern in a commercial environment.

Academic institutions aren’t the only ones working on tech like this. We’re seeing commercial applications, too.

Originally written by Wren Handman for www.hammerandtusk.com.