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!

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 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

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