Real Estate Technology I wanted Five Years Ago is Finally Here – Part 1 – Floorplans

Part One of Three.

I have been reflecting on the past five years as I am marketing the home of some of my first international clients. They moved from the UK to Crozet (their house is for sale and is shown at the end of this post). When we were meeting a few weeks ago, they were looking at the faxes I used to send them, discussing the websites I used to put up for them – photos of neighborhoods, areas, houses, etc. and we were talking about how things have changed and evolved since then.

This started as a blog post. And became a longer post. Then a long post. And now it’s a series. For the next four Wednesdays. This series really started with my ability to track new construction for buyer clients who were out of the area when ground was broken, and then throughout the building process.

None of the following is groundbreaking, but it’s all functional and helps me do what I do best – represent my buyer and seller clients. Revolutionary technologies are cool, but they often aren’t viable. I work with a lot of international and out-of-state buyers who are relocating to the Charlottesville area; I am constantly seeking out tools that will enable me to help facilitate our relationships and transactions. Five years ago, I knew what I wanted, but couldn’t offer due to technological limitations.

What I knew I wanted five years ago (and have today):

Interactive Floorplans – see the floorplan and the inside of the house – at the same time! Photos are great, videos are better, both combined with a floorplan are best. I can’t tell you how many

Interactive Floorplans: For years, I’ve wanted to have an interactive floorplan that showed the floorplan and pictures of the rooms at the same time. Simple, right? The technology was sort of available five years ago, but now it’s functional, economically viable, and most users’ browsers and computers can handle flash. Have a look and let me know what you think. This is a link to a floorplan, and I’m embedding it after the jump. (provided by Floorplan Online; here’s a nice review of them)

This is a dead-simple implementation of something I’ve wanted for years, and I’m thrilled to offer it. I’m still working through how I use it, but it’s coming along.


The greatest limitation of everything in this series is the adoption by the masses – masses meaning real estate practitioners across the spectrum, not necessarily consumers. Another is the distribution of the information and the presentation of said information, evolving it from data to useable, actionable content. My MLS is limiting and does not (yet) provide the rich detailed pages that consumers are demanding.

Which page is more detailed?

Google (they’re not “there” yet, but they will be)

Zillow

Realtor.com

Trulia

Nest Realty Group

The Charlottesville MLS – for some bizarre reason, MLS email links expire.

The public side of the Charlottesville MLS



Examples:

Floorplan for 425 Grayrock Drive
Floorplan for 5341 Brookwood Drive
Floorplan for 5053 Brook View Road


Part One – Real Estate Technology I wanted Five Years Ago is Finally Here – Interactive Floorplans
Part Two – Real Estate Technology I wanted Five Years Ago is Finally Here – Real Estate Video
Part Three – Real Estate Technology I wanted Five Years Ago is Finally Here – Paperless Transactions.
Prologue – What’s Next?

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11 Comments

  1. Blake Taylor October 21, 2010 at 10:43

    It’s really surprising that floor plans wouldn’t be readily available when people are actually selling a home considering it’s common to have on real estate rental services. I’m thinking specifically of beach houses in the Outer Banks which almost always have a floorplan with corresponding photos. I know I’d love to have that resource with listings.

    Reply
    1. Jim October 22, 2010 at 06:28

      It’s surprising until you realize how slow the Realtor world is to evolve. There are a relative few who are always thinking differently, who want to change and the masses who are comfortable and/or resigned to doing things “the way they’ve always been done.”

      I read a great article yesterday by one of the real estate industry leaders – Realtors® are NOT stupid, just slow. The title says it all. The things I wanted five years ago, looked through the lens of what I want five years from now are fascinatingly simple.

      The challenge has been building the technology. Those of us who want change typically cannot 1) demonstrate the economic viability and 2) can’t afford to build said change and 3) are busy doing what we do best – representing clients rather than building tools. It’s an interesting balance.

      Reply
  2. Michael Wurzer October 23, 2010 at 09:42

    This is a great series, Jim. The FPO product is really nice; I’d love to hear more how you use it with your customers.

    More generally, is there evidence that real estate agents have fewer early adopters than other industries or groups? I saw Stefan Swanepoel present to CMLS in Chicago a few weeks ago, and found the evidence wanting.

    I think your reference to “the masses” is where most people go wrong in this regard. They confuse mass adoption with early adoption. Jim, you’re an early adopter. And I think (though I don’t know) there are more early adopters like you in real estate than there are in many other industries (especially sales related businesses). The job of early adopters in the market place is to foster ideas, experiment, see what works and doesn’t work, and generally bemoan the fact that everyone else is behind them. But the reality is that, by definition, everyone else is supposed to behind the early adopters.

    All that being said, I think a case can be made that the organized nature of real estate, especially involving the MLS, hinders or slows the market forces that typically would otherwise move successful ideas from early to later-stage adopters. Collective action from the MLS is often going to be slower to change than would incremental and individual decisions of the competitors.

    It is for this reason that I’ve long advocated for data standards, which will increase innovation and competition. I’m happy to report that it appears we’re on the cusp of some major progress on data standards, and that progress will change the MLS forever. I’m hoping to post more on this in the coming weeks before, during and after the NAR meetings.

    Reply
    1. Jim Duncan October 25, 2010 at 08:16

      Thanks, Michael.

      Personally, I like bemoaning. 🙂

      Anecdotally, it seems that real estate has a fair amount of early adopters, but it’s difficult to tell because such a low percentage of us are productive.

      Regarding “the masses” – that’s the challenging part of this, and I don’t think it’s specific to the real estate industry. I love being an early adopter; one of our tenets when we founded our firm was that we wanted to fail more often – meaning we’re trying new things frequently. Like the “text for more information” sign riders – I used them for about a year and got less than 10 requests for more information. I have higher hopes for the QR codes we’re using …

      I do think there are a lot of early adopters in real estate. I know @respres has said this many times before, as has a Charlottesville tech consultant:

      Realtors are 3 yrs ahead of TV Newscasters when it comes to social media and twitter #cville

      just to clarify about Realtors and TV Newscasters, I was referring to adoption (not anything else) based on very unscientific observations

      Until the masses come around, though, the economy of scale doesn’t come into play. There are a lot of great ideas out there, but often time the only viable implementation is demonstrating that I’m trying something new and hopefully innovative – and there’s currency in that regard. Currency and the benefit of trying and failing.

      With respect to the MLS – (and I’m not telling you anything you don’t know) – the technology is simple; the politics are impossible.

      I wish I was going to be able to make it to NAR this year … explanation coming in a later post. 🙂

      Reply
    2. Jim October 25, 2010 at 08:44

      I’d like to think this is exceptional, but I don’t think so.

      within days of posting that blurb i had the good fortune of meeting with the folks at toor.me, a company that generates qr codes as part of its virtual tour offering to real estate agents. their director of business development, nick smoot, shared with me a story of a presentation he had done for a mid-size brokerage. nick had finished his presentation to the broker of the firm, showing the owner how consumers are using their smart phones to access information on listed properties. at the end of the presentation, the broker told nick that he was impressed by the service. “but my agents don’t have smart phones” were the next words out of the owner’s mouth.

      for the last time, it’s not about you
      if i would’ve been there i would’ve sprayed coffee through my nose at that remark. nick was very diplomatic in his reply, but the fact that the broker even said it is evidence of how the vast majority of this industry still thinks – it’s about us.

      newsflash. it’s never been about us. this provider-centric mentally has hung on far too long in our industry and needs to have a stake driven through its heart. it’s about the consumer. the highest life form on the planet. let’s get over ourselves and start focusing on what the consumer wants, how they buy and what they use in their decision making process. cuz if we don’t, someone else is going to step in front of us and help the consumer.

      Reply
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  4. Kris Cone October 25, 2010 at 14:58

    Thanks Jim for the post. I am one of the founders for FloorPlanOnline. I am glad to see you are using the embedded floorplan tool in your site/blog and your like the functionality. We are working on more things….including we just launched an ability to post the video to your own YouTube channel.

    Best regards,
    Kris Cone
    CEO, FloorPlanOnline.com

    Reply
    1. Jim Duncan October 25, 2010 at 15:16

      Thanks, Kris.

      So far, I’m really liking the product, and more importantly, my clients do, too. Now, if I can just get some evidence that the buyers like it … 🙂

      Candidly, for how I'm going to use it, I probably wouldn't see great value in the youtube component, but I'm willing to try almost anything!

      Reply
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