Integrated 3D visuals, floor plans and measurements save time, money and enhance property marketing effectiveness
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
Residential property managers, Realtors and new home builders have continuing challenges managing their time, budgets, marketing initiatives, and administration/regulatory requirements.
Kitchener-based Planitar Property Technologies has discovered and implemented a multi-faceted system to demonstrate and document property interiors, including their appearance and specific measurements. As a result, the company’s iGuide has attracted enthusiastic client reviews and repeat business, especially from organizations with a significant number of properties to manage and sell.
“iGuide’s measurable floor plans reduce anxiety in the sales process by helping to answer questions such as: ‘Will my furniture fit in this space?’” says Adam Hoffman, president of Hoffaco Property Management, which specializes in Waterloo-area single and multi-family and student rentals.
“Planitar’s iGuide provide a tremendous ROI (return on investment) and is highly recommended to anyone who is looking to sell or rent a property.”
iGuide technology combines professional photographic services with a special laser-equipped camera, able to capture 3D perspectives of rooms, creating highly accurate floor plans with accurate measurements.
Planitar CEO Kevin Klages says the Planitar photographer can fully document a standard multi-room home within an hour and the results are uploaded and ready for viewing/use on client websites, the MLS and in marketing materials by the end of the next day.
Realtors and property managers don’t need to worry about taking room-by-room measurements for their listing or sales documentations. Planitar has tested the accuracy of its measurements, and they are within 2.5 per cent tolerance, well within the acceptable industry standards.
The room images are crisp, easy to view and can be upgraded to the quality required for printed feature sheets and marketing brochures, allowing for virtually instantaneous and effortless marketing materials generation, while saving time on documentation, paperwork and listing preparation.
Even better, the plans and information can be ported to the MLS and the property manager or Realtors’ own websites, and be linked to an interactive map allowing potential tenants and purchasers from around the world to quickly learn about the listed properties or rentals, see if they are right for them, and decide on whether they want to look further.
Klages with chief technology officer Alex Likholyot, who developed the technology and co-founded the business, say they have expanded Planitar’s service area from the Kitchener-Waterloo area to throughout south and central Ontario, including the GTA. The next stage: further growth in Canada and expansion into the United States, because the technology is less expensive, easier to adopt, and provides greater practical value than other services on the market. The business now employs a full-time staff of seven, with 11 independent contractors.
“There are numerous photo-tour services available for listings, but don’t include the floor plans,” says Klages. Planitar’s technology allows professional iGuide photographers to complete the site work in a single visit, saving time, money and reducing inconvenience to homeowners and tenants.
Rental property owners especially appreciate the system’s advantage. They don’t need to have Planitar measure every unit in a larger building, just the variations in room-type and floor layout.
These plans and photos can then be viewed over and over, year after year, assuming the rooms’ walls don’t move or there isn’t a major redecoration. Instead of showing prospective tenants several units one-by-one, they can view the floor plans and images online, decide if the property looks good, and then call for an appointment. In essence, the iGuide can be used repeatedly, and Planitar doesn’t charge monthly maintenance or listing fees.
“I love it, absolutely love it,” said Nicki Gilmour, a sales representative for RE/MAX Real Estate Centre Inc. in Kitchener. “I had clients who were from out of town that, because of their location, they couldn’t come to an open house but because of the iGuide they were able to see the house and measure everything and were able to determine where the furniture was going to go. It’s a huge selling feature.”
Klages says iGuide offers several advantages to builders for their model home and special project marketing.
“New home buyers are also taking their search process online and builders are looking to new technologies to accommodate the new digital house hunters. iGuide moves the presentation centres and model suites online. Undoubtedly the convenient package is becoming a worthwhile investment for many home builders I know,” he said.
Fees are reasonable: The basic, one-time investment for a property up to 2,500 sq. ft. is $159.00. Enhanced versions are available including options to generate feature sheets with high-resolution images and enhanced floor plans which provide additional details such as the location of plumbing fixtures and closet doors (which require some manual editing by technicians at Planitar’s offices). However, even the most expensive option only requires a total $239 investment – and the listing/documentation remain online as long as the client wishes.
Likholyot says Planitar’s robust back-end is handling a rapidly expanding number of users, over 40,000 visits last month alone, and viewers generally spend at least 2.5 minutes and as long as 12 minutes exploring iGuides. “It’s a much easier system to use than conventional photo/video sites as viewers can click around easily to explore in depth the 3D views and rooms they wish to review,” he said.
Klages says the only objections he has received from Realtors are that some properties don’t “show well” – they are fixer-uppers, and images won’t look good. However, the counter-argument is that someone interested in a home needing repairs would also want to be able to assess the floor plans/dimensions to gain an understanding of the challenges and costs. Klages himself has used the iGuide for a recent home purchase and extensive renovation project.
As well, in some cases property mangers need to have floor plans available to comply with various codes requirements. Previously, the property owner/manager would need to do this tedious work himself, or contract with a specialized measuring service, for a fee greater than Planitar’s iGuide.
These practical advantages make iGuide a worthy option, even when the Realtor or property manager sets aside marketing considerations. However, the marketing advantages undoubtedly are among the strongest selling points, especially for Realtors.
“Listing a property involves capturing an emotional attachment with a potential buyer, allowing them to picture themselves there,” says Maryna de Lannoy, responsible for the design team and client care for the Mark Richards team at Re/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. In Toronto. “The Planitar iGuide does just that, providing interaction and engagement for our potential buyers. We have noticed that the more layers of visual tools we offer of our properties, the longer buyers stay on our site, dreaming of their dream house, and of course making that essential offer.”