Floor plans – your best shot at a sale?

Helen Clarke

One of the most effective property marketing tools, which are much sought after by buyers, is a floor plan of your home. But not all floor plans are equal.

Pre-inspection, a professionally drawn floor plan helps buyers understand a property’s flow, and visualise how its spaces will work for them. Post-inspection, a plan is a great reminder of layout, allowing serious buyers to imagine living in the home by mapping out their own furniture placements.

Plans are also great for out-of-town buyers or those who miss the inspection, helping to bring an unseen property to life while maintaining their interest. Likewise, including a plan on a signboard can generate interest locally, driving inspection numbers and in turn competition.

How are floor plans created?

Most property photographers will also offer floor plans, taking accurate laser-measurements of a home before creating a clear plan featuring room dimensions and total property size. They can also include extra detail at you or your agent’s request such as an agency logo or other info.

Which plan to choose?

With so many different types of floor plans available, it’s important to choose the one that will best highlight your home’s unique features.

The most basic plans are simply drawn in black and white. For something more eye-catching try a coloured plan, while a textured plan is great for showing off a home’s internal and external finishes, such as tiles or decking.

Furniture can also be added to any plan to give buyers an idea of potential furniture placements.

For larger properties, site plans feature a home’s floor plan relative to its gardens or grounds, including prominent external features and outbuildings. These plans are perfect for showcasing large blocks, sub-division potential or multiple dwellings.

 The most sophisticated plans, 3D artist impressions, are generated from detailed building plans by special 3D software, and used for bringing yet-to-be-built properties to life in a highly realistic fashion.

An effective way to combine your photographs and floor plans is through an online interactive floor plan. Symbols on the plan indicate the angle a photo was taken from, allowing buyers to easily navigate through a home by clicking on each photo, giving them a great feel for its flow and layout.

 Floor plans can bring an unseen property to life

 Don’t forget that if you already have a building or council plan, these are often too detailed and hard for buyers to follow. In this case ask if your floor plan supplier can redraw this plan to be more user-friendly.

Whichever floor plan you opt for, it goes without saying that a professionally drafted, accurately measured plan will give you the best shot at securing the right buyer for your home.

Why Floor plans should be an essential part of the marketing mix.

In such a competitive market it can be difficult to find that marketing edge, but can something as simple as a floor plan make all the difference?

In a recent survey of their buyers online habits, a leading real estate agency found that one of the simplest and cheapest products on the market, a floor plan, could hold the key to success.

They found that house hunters browsing online, drawn in by the photos on a particular listing, would view the floor plan (if one was available) before even reading the property description.

Buyers reasoned that while the photos wet their appetite for a particular property, it was the floor plan that gave them the hard info they desired.

It gave them instant access to the important requirements they sought in a property, for example, how big are the rooms, how do the living spaces interconnect, how are the bedrooms laid out, and how big is the yard.

Anecdotally though, few agents use floor plans on all their property listings, most use them selectively but a large percentage of agents don’t use floor plans at all. Are they missing out? Buyers trends are suggesting yes!

Are floor plans only useful on websites though? Again, research says no. Where a floor plan is available at open homes, either as a print out or on the back of a double sided brochure, prospective buyers are gathering these up to review at the end of the day.

So imagine a potential buying couple, spending Saturday after Saturday hunting for the perfect property. On a good weekend they may attend upwards of 6-8 properties and by the end of the day they are probably struggling to remember one from the other.

Feedback has indicated that buyers in this position will refer to the floor plans they collected at the open homes, not only to recall details, but to start mapping out the potential of the home for example, marking walls on the floor plan for potential removal or renovation.

Floor plans therefore, as simple as they appear, are proving to be a powerful tool for agents and vendors to hook buyers by giving them the information they require in an easy format.

But if you haven’t used floor plans before, there are some tips to use along the way. Providing a scan of a builders or architects plan might make initial sense, but if an average buyer can’t read what is usually a highly detailed mass of measurements and lines, then they’ll give up in frustration and move onto the next listing.

So what should you be aiming for with a floor plan then? Clean, easy to read and understand layouts of the interior spaces with a clear measurement scale, north point and room labelling, Simple!

Is your website any good? Survey reveals all

Real estate Business, Monday, 30 September 2013

Staff Reporter

Location, price range, development type and product type and size are the first four things buyers look for on a property website, according to a recent survey by Matusik Property Insights.

The independent property advisory group reported that buyers voted in favour of elements often hidden on a website: location of the project (89 per cent), prices (79 per cent), development and product details (68 per cent and 40 per cent respectively).

Michael Matusik of Matusik Property Insights said what was far more telling was what did not rate well for voters.

“For example, when it came to the first thing looked at on a property website, very few of the 622 who filled in our survey selected the range of image options in our pulse poll," he said.

“Yes, images are important, but maybe they are given far too much importance. If our polling rings true, then imagery might be the second tier of detail on a property website."

Mr Matusik said from his experience, unless agents captured the attention of potential buyers quickly, they would go elsewhere.

“It might be best – especially if targeting property investors – to give them more of what they seem to want,” he said.

In another straw poll, Matusik Property Insights asked respondents to vote which were the best four images or pictures that were displayed.

Property images from the street topped the list with 76 per cent of out of 631 voters choosing them as the pictures they liked to see. This was followed by dwelling plans (70 per cent), location map (58 per cent), kitchen render/photograph (56 per cent).

“What potential buyers don’t want to see are all those generic pictures of people enjoying themselves, suggesting their lives - or their tenants’ lives - will be magically transformed when they buy into or live in the property,” Mr Matusik said. “Just four respondents – out of 600-odd – ticked this option.”

He added that images of the key local lifestyle and infrastructure projects in the area also ranked poorly with buyers, with only five people selecting this choice as being important to them.

“Yet nearly every website, EDM or brochure contains heaps of this fluff,” he said.

Mr Matusik explained that good photography or quality renders for off-plan developments were needed and had to be images of the property. The first was the property itself, followed by the kitchen, the living area and bathrooms.

He said dwelling plans with clear dimensions were important to buyers as they could gain a better idea of the size of the property and it would help them make a purchasing decision.

“Yet, often plans are not included as part of the marketing collateral, or if they are, they are often replete with images of undersized furniture and without a dimension in sight,” Mr Matusik said.

First four things you look at:

Location of the project - 89 per cent

Price range - 79 per cent

Development type - 68 per cent

Product type/size - 40 per cent

Developer details - 30 per cent

Expected rentals - 30 per cent

Best four images/pictures displayed:

Property image from street - 76 per cent

Dwelling plans - 70 per cent

Location map - 58 per cent

Kitchen render/photograph - 56 per cent

Views from property - 40 per cent

Living area render/picture - 35 per cent

Survey reveals top property marketing tools

Real Estate Business, Friday, 05 October 2012

Simon Parker

While photography remains an important part of property marketing, floor plans, site plans, copywriting and virtual tours are also rated highly by agents, a survey conducted earlier this year has found.

The online survey, of past and present clients to national property photography company Top Snap, revealed that while the vast majority of respondents valued photography, a number of other elements were also highly rated when it came to successful property marketing.

Respondents, who were based in NSW, Qld, NT, SA, WA and Vic, said that black and white floor plans (84 per cent of respondents), site plans (67 per cent), copywriting (65 per cent), virtual tours (63 per cent), virtual furniture (56 per cent), textured, coloured or furnished floor plans (56 per cent) and interactive floor plans (53 per cent), were also important elements of any property marketing initiative.

The survey also asked agents about their preferred property marketing channels, with brochures and agency websites coming out on top, followed in descending order by realestate.com.au, signboards, online listing sites, local newspapers, letterbox drops, window displays and domain.com.au.

Around 63 per cent said they are using Facebook to market listings, with 36 per cent using Twitter.

Top Snap added that property video proved to be a less popular tool, with only 21 per cent of agents currently using it. Of those not currently using it, around 37 per cent said they are likely to start doing so in the next 12 months.

Only recently, a number of leading technology suppliers told Real Estate Business that video listings were attracting a greater number of ‘click throughs’ for the agents using them.

Petra Sprekos, general manager at realestateVIEW.com.au, told the recent Real Estate BusinessTechnology Roundtable that video is now expected by consumers.

“Traditionally, video was in the top end of the market, but now it has become more and more affordable for everyone to have a video,” she said.

“The consumer wants the most information; they think the agent is hiding information if they only put up three to four photos. In a few years time, if a listing doesn’t have a video then it will [undermine] the trust of agents.”

Tony Blamey, general manager, real estate at Fairfax Marketplaces, owner of Domain, said the more information agents gave with their listings, the better.

“You certainly get the feeling that in some parts of the industry there is a desire to withhold information with the belief that if I withhold it, then a potential buyer will need to come to me,” he said.“But that is old school thinking: the listings with video on Domain get about three to four times the viewer inquiries that a non-video property has. That’s about engagement and getting the right people to look at the property.”