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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