Showcasing Your Home for Sellers

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3-D Real Estate Tours with Matterport Camera

Springs Homes just became the first real estate company in Colorado Springs to own “The Matterport Camera”. We have started to use the “Matterport Camera” to create 3-D spaces of our for-sale listings. We are then able to share these spaces online with potential home buyers.

What is Matterport?

The “Matterport Camera” is a combination camera and measuring device. It scans and measures spaces as it takes pictures. Springs Homes has been at the cutting edge of residential real estate technology from the early days of the internet, 1997 to be exact. We were early adopters of Virtual Tour technology when it was difficult to implement, we jumped into producing videos of our listings when it wasn’t easy to implement either. The “Matterport Camera” changes the game, this technology is very straightforward to use and the results are easy to implement.

The camera weighs 6.5 lbs. and has a rechargeable battery which lasts 8 to 10 hours. A 2,000-square foot residential real estate shoot takes 45 minutes to an hour, so battery life is not an issue. The camera has six lenses and six sensors and sits on a regular tripod. The camera has a small internal motor which allows it to rotate 360 degrees for each scan. You communicate with the camera through a wireless connection to a tablet on the matterport app.

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Scanning Rooms

Once the camera is setup and you are shooting, the app walks you through putting the space together. After each scan, the camera sends its data back to the app, which then aligns the scan and displays a photographic representation of the floorplan. If the camera doesn’t have enough information the app shows a black space in those areas where it needs more data.

matterport camera interface

We generally move the camera 5 to 8 feet in between scans. As you are scanning the operator must mark mirrors and windows, this helps the camera understand how to treat these surfaces. This is important because the camera sees through windows, so it tries to incorporate what it sees outside into the 3D model. By marking the windows, the app knows to ignore what it sees outside when compiling the floorplan. We deal with the outside by using 360-degree views.

Once the entire interior space has been scanned, the “Matterport Camera” has a feature called “360-view”. This enables the user to go outside and photograph a 360-degree image of the outdoor spaces, this is done without scanning for walls. This comes in handy during the post-production phase. You can start your tour outside, showing the neighborhood or landscaping features. During the post-production phase, we are then able to link back to the indoor space.

Once you finish the entire project, the tablet is disconnected from the camera and re-connected to the internet. At this point, we upload the project to Matterports servers. Once uploaded, the images are processed and the basic tour is produced. It’s important to talk about the quality of the images this camera produces, they are really nice! The camera shoots 7 exposure brackets and turns them into HDR images. This is why the windows are not “blown out” except in extremely bright conditions. The stitching, white balance and color correction are all handled by matterport so the scans look balanced and consistent.

The tour is ready for further editing and or release in a couple of hours after upload. We work in an online app called Matterport Workshop in order to tag our tours as well as build engaging walkthroughs.

Details Page

“The Details Page” is the first place we look when we start to work on creating a finished Matterport Space. Details allow us to add the correct and complete address, our company details, website URL as well as a brief description of the property. “Details” is also where you set up your preferred sharing options as well as get the urls and embed codes you’ll need when you’re ready to distribute your tour.

This section is also where you go to see how your space is performing. The “Space Statistics” shows you analytical data like; the number of impressions (An impression is registered when someone views a page containing a 3D Showcase or clicks on a public 3D Showcase link), “Visits” (A visit is registered when a Space loads successfully) and “Unique Visitors” (Number of distinct users who visited this 3D Showcase one or more times).

These statistics become important as you look for the most effective ways to promote your spaces. We would really like to be able to see where the visitors came from and how long they stayed. This feature might exist but we have yet to find it.

Post Production in the Workshop

The real post-production work gets done in the “Matterport Workshop”. This is a robust web-based editor that allows you to refine the user experience.

The first option available in this app is the ability to set the start location of your 3D model. This is the same image as your “Hero Image”(the image that the user sees before the space loads).

Start positions can consist of the following scenes:

  • Any position in the inside view of the space. This is accomplished by moving to the desired location and selecting the “Update Start Location” button.
  • Dollhouse View-This is the iconic Matterport view (see below).

doll house

  • Floorplan View-This is a flat photograph of the actual floorplan.

floorplan view

  • 360 º View-These are individual 360 º images usually taken of outdoor spaces. You can use these images if you would like to start your tour outside or show backyard spaces as well as landscaping.

 

The space will show a white translucent circle at each point you set the tripod to take a scan. There are times when you may take too many scans in an attempt to get better coverage. The downside to this is your space can end up with a distractingly large number of scan circles. The workshop will let you hide those extra scans, creating a cleaner space.

The workshop also lets you build a guided tour. These tours move quickly through the property and give the user a good overview of the house. The user can stop the tour and investigate an area at any time by simply clicking and dragging on the space and relaunch the tour by clicking the play button.

Guided tours are built by taking “Snapshots” of the areas you want to include in your tour. Once you have compiled all your desired snapshots, you simply drag them into a “Highlight Reel” in the specific order you want them to appear in your tour. The guided tour automatically moves you through the Highlight Reel by simply pressing play.

Another valuable feature found in the Workshop is the ability to tag things. These are named “Matter Tags”. Matter Tags appear in the space as a small bullseye. When the viewer clicks on the bullseye, they see a description of the tagged item. These tags also allow you to add links to more in-depth information. We think these are really valuable, they allow us to provide as much additional detail as we need without visually cluttering up our tours.

Floorplans are another feature we find useful. One of the view options in the Matterport viewer is “Floorplan”. This provides an overhead photographic view of each level of the property. The look is admittedly a little rough but the user will certainly get the gist of how the floorplan looks. We have experimented with taking snapshots of floorplans, downloaded a JPEG version of them and then used the image to trace the floorplan in something like Illustrator or Floorplanner.com. We then export or save them as image files and post them to the MLS and our website. If you don’t want to do the floorplan yourself, there is an option to have Matterport create a floorplan for an additional fee.

The workshop has other features that we frankly haven’t had time to tap into like Virtual Reality settings and the ability to measure rooms. We are also experimenting with using the guided tour function to create videos. Look for more on this in future articles.

We have had the Matterport Camera for a couple of weeks now and feel like we are just beginning to tap into its potential. This was a great purchase and we can’t wait to do more with it. To see a collection of our Matterport Tours, visit: https://www.springshomes.com/.

 

5 Simple Hacks

5 Tips For Winter Home Selling

5 Simple Hacks

“Nobody wants to move their Christmas Tree”! That’s what I was told by the seasoned pros early in my Real Estate career. The problem is that many people find themselves having to sell during the holidays. The period of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is traditionally slow. The days are shorter, colder, darker and sometimes snowy.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the inventory levels are also at their lowest point of the year. If a buyer is looking this time of year, they are serious. So, if you have to sell during the winter months, here are 5 tips to make winter selling, more successful:

  1. Shovel: Keep the driveway and sidewalks clear. Don’t make potential buyers trudge through the snow to get into the house. You don’t want them dragging snow in on their pants, shoes, and socks either. Buyers want to imagine what it would be like to live in your house, don’t remind them they’ll have to clear snow.
  2. Place For Shoes: You don’t want potential buyers walking through your house with snowy shoes or boots. Place area rugs or mats for them to place their shoes on. It’s also a good idea to have disposable booties available, as well as a bench or chair, if there is room for one, so a visitor can sit and easily change shoes or boots.
  3. Keep it Comfortable: The inside temperature of the home is important. If the home is cold it feels vacant and uninviting. On the other hand, too hot feels stifling and uncomfortable. Remember the buyers are most likely already dressed for outside. Just keep the inside comfortable, 65 degrees is a good place to start.
  4. Light it up: The days are shorter during the winter months. The last impression you want to create is that your house is “dark”. Keep window coverings open and lights on to make your home light and cheery.
  5. Sniff Out Odors: Holiday cooking, pets, and yes people, all create odors. Buyers want to buy your house, not your smells. Clean and vacuum more often when selling your home in the winter months. Fragrances and candles are fine but remember, less is more. Don’t mask odors with overbearing products, they just make it seem like you’re hiding something.

If you follow the five simple rules along with professional pricing and staging, winter can be a great time to sell your home.

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Improving Your Winter Real Estate Photos

Winter months create significant challenges for real estate photographers. The days are shorter, darker, colder and sometimes snowy.

Exterior images are the biggest challenge. This is a big deal because this is the primary image for almost every Real Estate Listing create.

Our basic rule of thumb for exterior photographs is to shoot them when the sun is on the front of the property. East facing homes in the morning, west in the afternoons.

This becomes a problem during the winter months when the arc of the sun is further south. During winter, it is not unusual for north and west facing homes to get no direct sunlight on the front of the house.

Exterior images with no sun on the front of the property result in shadowy or dark images. In some cases when the sun is behind the house extreme lens flare.

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In order find the ideal time to take the exterior picture, we use a convenient app. “The Photographer’s Ephemeris”. This handy application shows us where the sun will be throughout the day. This app saves us from making unnecessary trips to the property to find the best time for pictures. Here’s how it works:

  1. Place the Red Pin in the middle of the scene you want to shoot.
  2. Use the slider underneath the timeline to track the sun’s path
  3. Look for full sun on the entire front of the house.
  4. Schedule your photo shoot for that time. It’s that simple!

During the winter the Ephemeris often shows us no ideal time (see above). The sun maybe behind the property all day. This creates a real problem if you are trying to get that bright, crisp, even look on your exterior image.

Although “dusk shots” seem like a good alternative, they can feel a little pretentious. Especially on a median priced home. These shots are generally reserved for the “Ultra-Luxury” listings.

Our solution is to take what we call a “pre-dusk”shot. This is a shot taken just as the sun goes behind the mountains/horizon. We take a set of bracketed images, usually 7 to 9 images. These images are then processed in Photomatix to create a single “Exposure Fusion” image.

Here is a finished “Pre-Dusk” image taken using the following tools:

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I like this image because it shows the property in the best possible light. This home faces Northwest and never gets full sun on the front during the winter. This technique give us a nice even light so we can get a sense of how the home actually looks.

I also like the added perspective the drone gives, you get more of a sense of how the Home fits into the neighborhood.

Here’s how I created this image:

  • I used the raw image from the DJI phantom 4.
  • I brought the image into lightroom and output seven bracketed exposures to photomatrix.
  • Once in photomatix I created an Exposure Fusion image. This image is then sent back into lightroom.
  • In lightroom, we make any final adjustments and resize the photo for MLS and websites.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me (Contact)

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Your BestLight Photo Shoot by Springs Homes

Springs Homes has photographed many homes, so many that we have lost count. The lessons that we have learned through so many photo shoots has helped us develop our process down to a repeatable science. Our BestLight photo process aims to represent each room of your home in the most natural and accurate way possible. We want our BestLight photos to give people a feel for what it is like to be in the room and not surprise people when the room doesn’t look or feel anything like the pictures. People fall in love with pictures of homes on the internet, we want them to fall in love with your home when they are in it too.

What is BestLight Photography?

 

 

How to Get Ready for your BestLight Photo Shoot

The time that you spend getting your home ready for your BestLight Photo Shoot will pay off in the quality of your photos. Get your home ready for the photographer and keep it in this condition for all of your showings. For best photographic results, have this list completed PRIOR to the photographer’s arrival, and plan in advance not to be home during the photo shoot.

Throughout the House

  • Turn ON all of the lights and lamps and replace burnt out bulbs
  • Open all blinds and shutters and adjust to let light in
  • Turn OFF all ceiling fans
  • Hide stacks of papers/bills/magazines
  • Stash kids toys in storage containers
  • Clean all windows and mirrors
  • Remove all evidence of pets including carriers, crates, pet dishes and visible litter boxes

In the Bathrooms

  • Remove ALL items from bathroom countertops
  • Remove bathrobes and minimize the number of towels present
  • Put the toilet seats DOWN
  • Remove bath rugs
  • Remove ALL shampoos, soaps, lotions, etc.

In the Kitchen

  • Remove ALL items from kitchen countertops and horizontal surfaces
  • Remove EVERYTHING from the outside of the Refrigerator
  • Stash dishtowels and sponges
  • Hide trashcans and remove rugs

In the Bedrooms

  • Remove ALL items from tables and horizontal surfaces
  • Make Beds and straighten pillows
  • Remove excess blankets, throws and comforters
  • Hide trashcans

In the Living and Dining Areas

  • Remove all personal items/remotes from tabletops and open shelving
  • Straighten pillows, chairs, blankets/throws

Outside your Home

  • Remove your car(s) from the driveway
  • Stash away trashcans, basketball hoops etc.
  • Shovel snow from walkways, stairs and off of lawns
  • Mow the lawn and mulch if necessary
  • Remove ALL lawn equipment, debris, recycle and trashcans from sight
  • Roll up your hoses and hide sprinkler attachments
  • Open patio umbrellas

Laundry Rooms, Garages, Closets, and Pantrys will not be photographed unless specifically requested. 

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5 Tips to Get Great Listing Photographs of Your Home

Kitchen

oneFind Something Else To Do – It is tempting to want to stick around and help point out the best angles for the photographer, but resist that temptation. Photographers often work best when left alone with the agent to stage and showcase the best features of your home.

twoPick Up, Pick Up, Pick Up – All homes show best with the minimum amount of “stuff” in them. Miscellaneous items (including toys) tend to detract from the size and feel of the room. Pick up items on counters, tables, bathrooms and any horizontal surface and stash them away before the photographer arrives.

threeLight ‘Em Up – Lighting is a photographer’s best friend when it comes to interior photography. Check to make sure that all of the bulbs in your lights are working and match with their partners. A chandelier with 3 cool bulbs, 1 warm bulb and 1 burned out bulb doesn’t make the right impression.

fourDon’t Forget the Backyard – The backyard is often one of the most important “rooms”. Do a quick rake of leaves and sweep of walkways and decks before the photographer arrives. Stash any moveable toys, garden equipment and sports equipment to an out of sight location. Remember, Buyers want to see the potential of the yard, not remnants of your last barbeque.

fiveMinimize Holiday Decor – Your Halloween decorations might be the best on the block, but when it comes to showcasing your home, holiday decor should stay in the closet. Keep in mind that displaying holiday items not only distracts from the important features of your home, but the carved pumpkins or elf on a shelf are permanent clues in the photographs as to when your home went on the market.

If you are still looking for additional suggestions, check out our featured homes on SpringsHomes.com. We have invested a lot of time and experience in fine tuning our real estate photographs and take a lot of pride in our work. Houzz.com is also another good resource to become inspired to make your home look its best.

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Pictures are the New First Showing

In an internet driven real estate world, pictures have become the new first showing. According to the National Association of Realtors 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers The Internet and Realtors were the top two sources used in the home search process at an impressive 89%.

If you’re selling a home, I think it’s really important to understand how the process works for home buyers. The Buyer’s Realtor, will e-mail the buyer listings that meet their criteria. Busy buyers will look through those listings. These online listings work kind of like a shopping cart but in reverse. The buyers actually eliminate the homes they are not interested in as opposed to adding the ones they like. This is why it’s essential to list your home with a company that uses a professional photographer.

Here at SpringsHomes, we use a professional photographer for all of our listings no matter what the price or location. We use special lighting and even produce a professional video for all of our listings. Additionally, we are always looking for the next great marketing tool and we really feel like we have found it. It is actually a mash-up of a couple of different tools. First, we got a DJI Phantom Quadcopter. Next, we purchased a GoPro Hero3 camera, here comes the mash-up. We attach the GoPro to the bottom of the quadcopter and launch it high above our listings. This provides a completely different perspective. We can put the camera hundreds of feet about a large parcel in a rural setting to give a sense of scope or just 10 to 12 feet high to showcase a fantastic backyard in an urban environment. Either way, this is just one more tool that allows us to separate our listings from the rest of the pack.

Here are a couple of examples of what we can do with the Quadcopter/GoPro combination: We were able to launch the quadcopter from the top of this building. We flew out over a busy Manitou Ave. and got what we think is a great shot of this historic loft building. Manitou Spa Building For a completely different perspective, we had a little house in downtown Colorado Springs that has a great backyard. We couldn’t really capture the scope of the lot, so we launched the quadcopter and this is what we got. Downtown Colorado Springs Home

Finally, for a completely different perspective. We wanted to give prospective buyers a sense of how open and light the Falcon area is, so we sent the quadcopter high above the Antler Creek Golf Course. Falcon North We think this tool is a great addition to our listing toolbox. As aerial photography technology gets faster, lighter and more affordable, we think the market will start to see a lot more of this new perspective. If you have questions about any of this hardware, please give us a call, we love to to share.

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Pictures Really Are Worth 1,000 Words

So, you have finally decided that you want to sell your home. Obviously, now you will have to market and advertise your home. How should you go about doing this? Through online marketing of course.

The National Association of Realtors, 2013 survey of Home Buyers estimated that nearly 90% of potential homebuyers begin searching for a home online. Yes, that does mean you have to put your house up on the MLS, and when you do so, you will have to upload pictures as well. Fail to do this, and only limited buyers will show an interest. Ask any real estate agent, and they will tell you the same.

Pictures are really important in real estate marketing, but there is one problem, not just any picture will do. Your pictures must be absolutely incredible and must utilize good photographic techniques. Only then will buyers show an interest and make and get them closer to making an offer. And do not forget the fact that buyers visit a home only when they like the photos. So if your photos are not good, there are very limited chances that potential buyers will appear on your front door.

Good Photographic Technique is Essential

The National Association of Realtors also claims that nearly 98% of people who bought a home and looked online, stated photos to be the most useful feature of online websites that played a very important role in the decision-making process. In real estate marketing, photography is of prime importance because it can motivate the buyer to view your home, and possibly make an offer, that is, if it is good enough. Here are the main reasons why you should opt for a good photography when selling your house.

  • Photos help you gain an edge in the market and attract more buyers.
  • Today’s world is digitized. Buyers know how to make use of technology and they crave information. You can impress them if you get on the same page as them and provide them with good photos.
  • Nearly all real estate websites allow you to upload pictures. If you do not, few if any buyers will show much interest.
  • Visual aids form a better impression than just text descriptions about your house.

HDR Is An Advanced Photographic Technique

HDR or High Dynamic Range Imaging is a photography technique that adds more dynamic range to the photos. Dynamic range is actually the ratio of light and darkness. HDR techniques do not use just one photo, but instead, combine a number of them into a single image. All photos are taken at different exposures and can easily be combined with an image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or HDR PhotoStudio. This helps you in highlighting the best features of every photo and result in an image that appears more appealing to the eye.

Compared to traditional images, HDR images are better because they are based on radiance or luminance. Their dynamic ranges are greater and so higher quality and clear photographs can be produced. The lighting in an HDR image is just perfect and clearly highlights all the details. As such, all pictures of your house come out better and attract more buyers.

Let the Pros do the Work

Considering the advantages of HDR photography that have been mentioned above, you should use it when you take pictures of your home. As good as you may be with a camera, you should seek professional help and leave the job to them. They can do a far better job than you and produce better results.

Most Realtors will hire a professional photographer to take marketing photos of your home. If you decide to go it alone, make sure you do your research. Once you come across a name, view the portfolio, go through the customer reviews and consider the price. Needless to say, cheapest is not always the best. You may have to spend more than what you wanted but keep in mind that professional HDR photos can help you in getting a much better offer. Do not want to miss out on this, right? Hire a qualified photographer whose work is impressive enough.

Make Your Pictures Stand Out

HDR does make your photos look better, but there are other things as well, like staging and lighting. Combine the three and your photos will look absolutely perfect. Though your photographer and agent will guide you about this in detail, here is what you should do before the photographer starts clicking away.

  • Though this is very obvious, it is still worth mentioning there are people who do not pay any attention to it. When pictures of your house are being taken, it should be clean and appear to be uncluttered.
  • Your rooms should contain some of your belongings so that they appear livelier. This even makes it easier for the buyer to imagine their life there, allowing you tap into their emotional side.
  • When the interior is being photographed, open the windows so that most of the sunlight can enter the room. Also turn on all the indoor lights.
  • Light up the fireplace, move the chair out or make similar adjustments to make your house look cozier.
  • Be sure to focus on strong areas of your house. Maybe your bathroom is completely modernized, your backyard looks stunning or you have a pool. If your home has features of these sorts, the photos should capture them well.
  • When you are shooting the exterior of your house, timing is important. The dawn and dusk are the best hours of the day. No photographer is going to show up in wee hours of the morning, but try to photograph the exterior when the sun is setting down. And do not forget to turn on the interior lights through the windows. This makes your home looks more cheerful.

So hire a professional photographer or work with a Realtor that has one and avail their help to market your home. Hopefully, you will get an amazing offer on it. Good luck with selling your house.

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