Property visualisation tools, including 3D marketing and all other forms of CGI imagery, are setting a new gold standard for property sales – both for off-plan developments and for existing builds.
It was Pablo Picasso who famously said “Everything you can imagine is real”.
He just didn’t know that he was talking about the future of sales and marketing (or perhaps he did?).
Below, in Section 2, we are going to be taking a look at some of the modern visual tools that property and developments marketers have at their disposal – and why you should be using them. These include:
- Computer-generated stills
- 360 video
- Timelapse video
If that is what you came here to read about, then feel free to skip down to that section – but before you do, stop – and take a moment to consider why you want to use them.
You will probably answer “because they will help me sell my development” – and of course, you are correct – but it is sometimes worth digging a little deeper into understanding why these tools work as amazingly well as they do.
After all, they not only increase sales but, utilised correctly, can also increase average sales prices and improve your margins.
It stands to reason then, that if you understand a little more about how these mechanisms work, you will be able to improve your profitability when you use them.
This is the ‘sell more for more’ of the title. By taking advantage of some or all of these tools, by understanding how they work, you will not only sell more properties, but sell your properties for more (i.e. for a higher value).
If that sounds interesting (and it should) then don’t skip anything and continue to read Section 1.
Everything you can imagine is real
Section 1: Why people buy
It will come as no surprise to you that the deciding factors for customers to make a buying decision are emotional ones.
We all know this already – when an estate agent is showing a home to a potential buyer, they are not just pointing out the features of the property, they are invoking their imagination at the same time: “Imaging coming home from a long day at work and having this beautiful garden to relax in” etc.
Buying is a subconscious, human, emotion-based process – not a logical decision.
Gerald Zaltman (Harvard Business School professor) goes as far as to consider that 95% of our purchase decisions take place in the subconscious mind.
In this interview “The subconscious mind of the consumer (and how to reach it)”, he goes on to explain that marketers should aim to achieve the highest emotional response, by targeting the consumer through many different senses.
The consumer must be engaged, in other words, and impassioned by the presentation of your property or development plans.
Assisting visualisation, therefore, is really about using the best tools available, to help the customer connect with their emotions as they consider buying your property.
And as we have discussed previously elsewhere we are visual beings, with 90% of the information transmitted to our brains being visual. In other words, we respond to visual stimulus.
This leads us to why high-quality visuals make a difference. To answer this why, we first need to understand a key fundamental:
Regardless of the product, however new or unique it may be, it will always be perceived by the buyer, in the first instance, in terms of a frame of reference.
The important part of that statement is the frame of reference, which brings us neatly back to Gerald Zaltman discussing that buying choices are almost exclusively an unconscious decision.
How people justify prices to themselves
Imagine – for a moment – that you are personally considering buying an off-plan property. You are choosing between two developments, and the only difference between them is the marketing materials (the properties themselves, and all amenities, are identical).
Consider this scenario for a moment and then answer the following questions.
Company A shows you a brochure with a floor plan, together with a photo of a mostly constructed apartment (bare walls, no flooring, exposed electrics) and a pencil sketch of a ‘finished’ room.
Company B also shows you a floor plan, but accompanies it with a CGI video of the finished building exterior, coupled with a video flythrough (CGI), not to mention some beautiful still photos, of a completely furnished and dressed apartment, which covers every room.
Now, at this point, you may be answering ‘no’ to the second question, because whilst reading this, you are simply engaging your logical, conscious mind. As we have already seen, however, real buyers don’t do this, so let’s take a look at a real-world example instead:
In a large study of 14,000 residential home sales, Bucchioneri & Minson (2013) noted two seemingly conflicting results.
First, they observed that the literature and other paraphernalia used to sell the properties generally focussed on the idea that home prices are a result of facts: location, number of rooms, size of rooms, etc. In other words, property agents and developers fix the value (price) of a property based on its physical attributes.
Their second observation, however, was this: That if the initial asking price of a property was higher, then the final sale price of the property was also higher, irrespective of the property’s features. Raising the initial asking price is setting the frame of reference for the value of the final sale.
For the average property, overpricing by 10% to 20% resulted in a significantly higher sales price.
This is the result of our subconscious mind being in charge of the buying decision, as it relies on various heuristics to make quick, efficient judgements and decisions for us.
Starting at a higher asking price anchors the value in the buyer’s mind, so that, even after negotiation, the final sales price is significantly higher.
So why are the visuals important? Well – there is a small, but very important, part of the sales process that involves our conscious mind (albeit it may only be 5%).
Coming back to our second question above – would you pay extra for the more desirable-looking property – the answer is that in the real world, yes, you would.
And the reason is this – Company B would be able to raise their prices by 10% or so, and you would be able to justify to yourself this extra cost because of the look and quality of the visuals – this is the 5% conscious part of the buying decision doing its job.
So here’s the process recap:
As a buyer, you emotionally prefer property B, purely because of the visual materials, so you have, in fact, already decided to buy it (albeit subconsciously).
But it is a higher price, and you need to justify this extra outlay, so your conscious mind steps in at this point with “logic” and does exactly that – it justifies the cost because Company B must be a better quality business, with higher standards, a better reputation and therefore will build a better quality development.
And how do you know all this about Company B? Well, because of the high-quality visuals, of course!
Does this sound like circular logic? Yes, of course it does. Does it make sense? Objectively no, not really, but then, we are emotional creatures. This is the strange outcome of the actions of cognitive consistency.
Rather than get caught up on the conundrums of the inner complexities of the human brain though, understand the end result:
Better visuals make for better sales conversions. And those sales conversions will be higher value.
High-quality visuals reflect the perceived value of the property.
More importantly, they reflect on the perceived quality of your business.
Section 2: The latest visual tools to transform your property sales
“The process of buying a home will change beyond recognition in the coming years”
(Tracie Pearce, HSBC UK’s Head of Mortgages)
Visuals are now more vital than ever
Leading up to 2019, video had become reasonably common for property listings and off-plan developments, and virtual property tours were reasonably available, but the ‘normal’ buying procedure was still in-person viewings.
2020 changed that – and virtual tour properties now come first, with buyers only physically viewing often only after a virtual tour has taken place.
Forbes pointed this out in a recent article – Covid aside, Millennials and Gen Z have come to expect virtual options for everything – including house buying!
Google reported (and this was pre-pandemic) that finding an estate agent, and other agent-related services, was growing 46% year-on-year on YouTube.
They also found that 77% of first-time buyers drove by a home that was first viewed online. That’s a massive response to online marketing which should not be underestimated.
So what are the best visual options available to property developers and agents in this new, virtual world of online home-selling?
Why show an empty development, or even an existing one in need of some TLC, when you can show its true potential?
CGI (computer-generated imagery) is an amazing tool that can decorate, furnish and stage a property for much less than the cost of doing it.
Staging prices alone will be 10% (or less) of the price of physically doing prepping a property, faster and with no logistics involved.
The quality of virtual staging for CG stills is now so good, it’s very difficult to even notice that CGI has been used at all.
CGI is flexible – it can be used for a complete makeover of a property (or even create the property, if the development is not built) – or can be used for dressing a room with the addition of a few pieces of furniture.
Configuration is also possible, meaning that you can show potential buyers a property decorated in their preferred style and colour scheme.
CGI is great for tailoring lifestyle presentation – which can really connect with buyers at an emotional level and increase property desirability.
The best ways to create a video for a development – lifelike animations can take buyers on a tour of a yet to be built property.
As with photos, CGI has reached the point where discerning generated images and reality is becoming difficult when it is done well.
Aminations of off-plan properties are the number one selling tool for developers today.
For existing properties, 360 video is a must. Unlike a regular video presentation, 360 video gives the buyer the ability to walk the property at their own pace and choose their own movements around the rooms. It puts the buyer in control and is the nearest experience to a physical viewing.
360 video can incorporate text information, dimensional measuring tools and even CGI furnishing!
This is where modern visual tools are already performing, and the figures speak for themselves.
- 74% of estate agents win more listings if they use 360 videos.
- 95% of people are more likely to call an agent about properties that showcase a 3D virtual tour.
- Almost 80% of property sellers would switch to an estate agent offering immersive 3D tours of listed properties.
- 55% of buyers say they would buy a property sight-unseen if there was a 3D tour available online.
Keep in mind that buyers will perform an average of 11 searches before taking action on a real estate website – you need to be maximising your chances by using every tool available to get their attention.
For engaging potential buyers for off-plan developments, there is nothing quite as mesmerising as a construction timelapse video.
They stimulate the imagination, increase excitement in the mind of the buyer and, as Picasso said, everything you can imaging is real.
They keep your customers on board. Regular contact – especially using creative video such as timelapse, and other visual content – is a proven tool for reducing buyer dropout.
A fly-through (or walk-through) video is one step back from a 360 video tour, but still has an important role to play.
The advantage of the walk-through video is that you can include a presenter who can talk the buyer through the property.
Aside from the benefit of having a friendly face on camera, talking means they can convey in just a few words all the information needed in a short space of time. Not everyone will want to sit in silence and point and click their way around a viewing space.
For developments, a linear video is essential for giving a context and overview of the project – the amenities, surrounding areas and other benefits.
A video is a familiar concept and engages the buyer’s brain differently; it is trained to interpret everything it sees on a regular video as entertainment. This means that their emotional connection with a video presentation is different to the one experienced with 360 video.
What this means to you is that you should be using both approaches – especially for property development, where the actual building does not yet exist.
An introductory video puts a human face onto the development and establishes a connection with the buyer; a follow-up 360 video then allows the buyer to wander off “on their own” and explore the property in more detail and in their own way, revisiting points of interest that caught their eye in the initial introduction.
The combination is the virtual equivalent of the agent’s physical property tour followed by “I’ll get out of your way now and let you explore on your own”.
Linear video and 360 video should not be considered as either-or, but as a powerful partnership that works well together to create an emotional connect with the buyer that either on their own will not achieve.
Studies conducted in the USA reveal that the use of drone filming for marketing property helps to increase sales by 50%.
Drone film has a massive impact; it is original (we are still not used to seeing it regularly, although this novelty factor will wear off in a few years) and it offers a unique perspective on both the property and its surrounding location.
Drone footage can be used to highlight local amenities, such as nearby parks, lakes or beaches, and even show the proximity of local facilities.
It is perfect for introductory videos, overviews and property developments, and while they are a secondary tool, the positive impact of drone footage in a visual presentation far outweighs any small costs involved in producing it.
To find out more about how property visualisations and 3D marketing visuals can increase your sales, and your average sales price, contact Splento today and we will give you the property walk-through you need to see.
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