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!

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

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/

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.

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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.