Best practices to showcase design and floor plans in luxury listings

Publish Date: July 24, 2023

Written by Victoria Minton

- Originally published at Inman News - Victoria Minton

When selling the world’s most spectacular homes, luxury real estate agents need to remember there’s more than meets the eye. There are often design features of architectural, aesthetic, or practical significance that can truly differentiate it in the market — if potential buyers are aware of their existence.

This is why showcasing floor plans and designs is crucial for luxury listings. As agents, we may be accustomed to showing these diagrams and documents when selling developments before they’re built, but they can be just as crucial for truly one-of-a-kind homes where images alone can’t tell the whole story.

Yet this presents an inherent challenge. Floor plans and design specs can be highly technical — more so than the average homebuyer may be comfortable with. So what are the best ways to incorporate these often critical details into marketing materials? Having worked with clients in Houston’s luxury real estate market for more than twenty years, here are three of my top recommendations.

1. Complement virtual tours with video

Victoria Minton – Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty – Central Houston Brokerage

Viewing a two-dimensional floor plan — on a listing site or in a printed brochure — is not always beneficial if clients can’t translate those specs into 3D. To remedy this, many agents have implemented systems to create virtual tours, which expand a 2D floor plan into an interactive 3D rendering of the property. These virtual tours are particularly impactful when the agent narrates the walkthrough and comments on distinctive design features.

Immersive, high-quality video is a major value-add. It brings the property to life and helps prospective buyers more expansively visualize the home and all it offers. Importantly, video clips can also be repurposed as teasers and highlights to be shared on social media.

2. Focus on the power of photography

I would encourage agents to never lose sight of the fact that you’re not just taking photos for the benefit of prospective buyers — you’re also taking them for your own benefit because they’ll help you to better articulate the story of the home.

Therefore, I suggest you approach photography with two mindsets:

  • For the client, you want to earn their interest early and powerfully. That means steer clear of conventional shots, such as the typical straight-on view of the home’s exterior, and instead choose angles that are more impactful. As you curate your image gallery, always lead with the most impressive.
  • For yourself, you need to be as detailed as possible. Use close-ups and panoramas to capture the architectural features your clients need to know about and film a full 360-degree sweep of each space. Then, when you sit down to write your listing description, you can truly help readers visualize the flow of the home.

Some agents may feel that this approach is too labor-intensive, but in my personal experience, I can say with certainty that it’s time well spent and achieves the best results.

3. Perfect the home with virtual staging

Martha Adger – Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty – Central Houston Brokerage

You can also, if necessary, supplement your floor plan with photographs that not only show the property in a unique way but are virtually staged to attract buyers.

I was once tasked to sell a $4 million white stucco home that had been sitting on the market for six months. I started by virtually painting some of the rooms white. Then I digitally changed counters, curtains, and rugs to a more neutral tone and replaced the cluttered antiques with a modern, airy look to appeal to a wider range of buyers.

I re-listed it one week later with an exterior dusk shot serving as the main photograph — I think each home has its own unique glow, and a dusk shot differentiates it from others and draws interest. My team quickly received multiple offers and ultimately ended up selling the property for $100,000 over the list price.

The moral of the story? As long as you avoid any confusion by informing clients in the image descriptions, virtual staging tools give agents opportunities to get creative. They can help demonstrate potential and value.

4. Talk design to tell a property’s story

Each home has its own story, and design is a crucial element of that narrative. Work with your marketing team to tell the story as effectively as you can with the creative tools and media at your disposal. And sit down with your sellers to understand the history of the home, as well as what they love about it and how they use it.

As part of this process, research proper architectural terminology so you can speak about unique features with authority and authenticity. And finally, think of all the potential ways that the property can be enjoyed so you can engage the imaginations and aspirations of prospective buyers. You may be starting with a simple floor plan, but you can build it into a complete experience that empowers clients to envision a whole new life.

A native Houstonian associated with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty since 1991, Victoria has been recognized multiple times in the Houston Business Journal “Most Expensive Homes Sold” Lists. Her keen pricing ability and marketing sense have enabled her to represent both buyers and sellers in many significant transactions in the Houston market. Growing up in Tanglewood, Victoria has extensive knowledge of the market both inside and outside the 610 Loop, and is also a market expert in River Oaks, Memorial, Tanglewood, as well as Southampton and West University Place, where she has lived for the past 20 years.

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