Technology, Friend or Foe?
(Originally published December 2018)
My niece is selling her house in the Corpus area and gave me the great idea for this post (Thanks Tiff!). You're probably not surprised to learn that there are a lot of helpful cutting edge technology tools that real estate professionals can use to market a property, but are they always the best approach?
If you're thinking about selling your home, talk with your agent to see what's the best fit for you and your goals. If you're thinking about buying a home, keep my advice in mind too, so you're a savvy consumer. Let's dig in:
First, let's make sure you know what staging is. Staging is physically rearranging furniture and decorative elements in your home to set the best foot forward for the purpose of making your home attractive to prospective buyers. Yes, I realize you want your recliner to face the TV for the big game, but if you're trying to sell your house, you may need to consider that the chair blocks the view of your amazing backyard. So, your agent may recommend you move your chair while your home is listed for sale. Virtual Staging, on the other hand, is taking photos of your home, and upgrading it digitally, through the magic of technology. Examples could include adjusting the lighting, changing a wall color, adding furniture, changing the view out of the window and so on.
Virtual Staging is a Great Idea: When you're watching your pennies and it would be less expensive to digitally add furniture than to go out and purchase it. Or maybe when you're having a hard time getting a sunlit shot, and the photos you have are just not doing your space justice (though the use of a professional photographer will likely solve that problem).
Virtual Staging is Not Such a Great Idea: When the results of virtual staging set false expectations to a prospective buyer. If you completely remodel your kitchen digitally, but the buyer visits the house after seeing your photos online and is disappointed with the 1980s cherry wood cabinets that are actually there, you're not doing yourself any favors. The buyer will be disappointed, and less likely to keep your home on their list. I'm not saying you can't change things, of course. If you have a hot pink wall, showing it as a neutral beige through the help of digital staging would be a good idea. Painting a wall is a lot less expensive than changing out cabinets in the kitchen, and less likely to scare off a buyer.
Side note on Virtual Staging: Now that I've pointed this out to you, it can be fairly obvious when a photo has been manipulated. Quality of the work is an important element to consider. Paying a little more for a professional vs. your self-taught skills in Photoshop is usually a good idea.
3D Home Tours
Now this is a cool tool! With the help of special cameras, you can have a 3D walkthrough of your home available online. This helps prospective buyers get a better sense of how all the spaces fit together, instead of trying to figure it out through typical photos.
A 3D Tour is a Great Idea: When you have a really great floor plan, or large house, and the tour gives a potential buyer a better idea of how the rooms flow together.
A 3D Tour is Not Such a Great Idea: If you have a small home, something like this could make it seem even smaller. What you want to remember is that any marketing that's posted online should make buyers want to come see your property, and not give them a good reason to skip past it.
Since buying or selling a home is a change in ownership, there are contracts involved in the
transaction which must be signed. This is not the newest of technologies, but there are tools that include security features that will let you sign a document from your laptop instead of with a pen.
Electronic Signatures are a Great Idea: Most of the time, actually. I've used them for a while and not having to print saves paper, time printing, space to store, among others.
Electronic Signatures are Not Such a Great Idea: I'm talking to other agents when I say consider your audience. It is possible that your client may strongly prefer paper, or you may prefer that personal touch of a face to face discussion regarding a contract. Obviously, you would never want to force someone to use technology if it's not comfortable for them. On the other side of the table, I'm talking to the general population when I say you can always request paper versions of contracts if that's your preference. Don't feel bad about asking, your signed documents can still be scanned for electronic filing if that's their company's policy.
That wraps up my quick look at some of the new toys out there, I hope it's been helpful. If you're thinking about selling or buying a home, let me know, I'm even more helpful in person.
Rebecca Robertson is a realtor in the Houston, TX area who, good gracious, seems to have an opinion about everything. If you have any questions you'd like her two cents on, drop her a line at email@example.com