How can you, as a Realtor, help buyers visualize a home they might love, but can’t yet walk through to appreciate?
Some homebuyers have a keen ability to visualize a home that’s not yet been constructed. Others are spatially challenged or simply can’t create those mental pictures.
So how can you, as a Realtor, help buyers visualize a home they might love, but can’t yet walk through to appreciate?
The question isn’t trivial because buyers who can’t picture a home probably won’t buy it. That means they could miss out on the best home for their needs and wants or not purchase a home at all.
Or, says Steve Appel, a Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Property Group in Wesley Chapel, Fla., they might settle for a home that matches the builder’s model just because it seems more tangible to them.
“If the builder has seven floor plans, they might only have two built models,” Appel says. “A lot of people get attracted to the models because they can see and touch them. … They end up building whatever the model is just because it’s there and they can see it.”
Vertical spaces can be challenging for buyers (and Realtors) to visualize. That’s important because many buyers today want a two-story home and contemporary floor plans tend to be spacious and open with large rooms and few hallways.
Appel says some buyers want children’s bedrooms upstairs with the master bedroom downstairs. Others need a downstairs bedroom for any elderly parent or other relative.
“You can see (where the bedrooms are) from the floor plan,” he says, “but that’s not nearly as accurate as if you’re in the actual home and can see the sight lines, distances and depths of the rooms. Things like vaulted ceilings and crown moldings or types of countertops and architectural niches you can’t visualize from looking at a floor plan.”
Realtors are well-positioned to help buyers overcome such visualization challenges.
One technique is to show buyers completed or nearly completed homes that match various floor plans, but aren’t among the builder’s model homes, says Tara Moore, a Realtor at RE/MAX Select in Winter Garden, Fla. This approach gives buyers more data to build into their visualizations.
Another strategy is to show buyers model homes in other communities built by the same builder.
“If the builder doesn’t have a model of that home in one particular neighborhood, we might be able to drive 20 or 30 minutes to another neighborhood and, even though they aren’t interested in that neighborhood, we can walk though that model,” Moore says.
The Realtor and builder’s salesperson can also walk the buyer through the floor plan on paper to aid the visualization.
“Once we walk though a model, I sit down with the buyer, in coordination with the builder’s salesperson, and I say, ‘In comparison to the model home we’re sitting in right now, go through the differences with me. What would that look and feel like?’ And you can walk it out,” Moore says.
Realtors who sell a lot of new homes can tap their own experience as well, says Paul Carey, vice president of sales at PulteGroup’s Houston division.
“A lot of Realtors have histories with us,” Carey says. “We will walk homes that are under construction, walk homes that are finished and walk models in other communities. We have a partnership with those Realtors. Even if (that house) is not on the ground today, they’ve seen it.”
How can you help buyers visualize a home they might love, but can’t yet walk through to appreciate? The question isn’t trivial because buyers who can’t picture a home probably won’t buy it. That means they could miss out on the best home for their needs and wants or not purchase a home at all. Scale models, drawings, schematics and virtual tours — viewed online or in the sales office — can also help buyers get a mental picture of a not-yet-built home.
Most virtual tours show homes that have actually been. But today, some tours can even show homes that are only on the electronic drawing board. And, the videographer can incorporate furniture, so the home in the video looks like a finished model, even though it doesn’t exist, Carey says.
Gary Higginbotham, marketing director at Alan Mascord Design Associates in Portland, Ore., says even fancier technology is also in use. Mascord sells stock floor plans and creates 3-D images to aid builders, Realtors and buyers.
Practice can help Realtors improve their ability to translate floor plans into mental images they can then describe to prospective buyers, Higginbotham suggests.
“The tools in the Realtor’s belt are 3-D visualizations, digital models, 3-D walk-throughs, even photography of prior existing homes from the same design,” he says.
To learn how to translate drawings spatially, get to know the builder’s design experts and ask them about different options to help buyers.
The future of new home visualization could involve virtual reality like the cutting-edge tech that’s used today in advanced video games.
“You put on a headset,” Higginbotham explains, “and you can literally walk though the home even though it’s not constructed yet. You’re placed inside the home as an avatar so you’re spatially positioned inside the 3-D model.”
While it may be hard for clients to picture a home that hasn’t been built yet, there are many ways to help them visualize a floor plan that meets their needs and wants. By familiarizing yourself with more floor plans and models and using a variety of technologies, you can set your client on the right path to their new home.
Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, book editor and blogger whose work has been published by a long list of financial, mortgage and banking websites, trade magazines and newspapers.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with high honors from UCLA and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Pepperdine University and has completed advanced novel-writing courses at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She is a second-generation native and lifelong resident of Los Angeles.