ShowingTime+ vice president of sales and industry Michael Lane recently shared his perspective on how technology is improving residential real estate for everyone. His commentary, originally published on Inman, has been reproduced below.
Twenty-two years ago, I co-founded ShowingTime. Today, I lead sales and industry relations for ShowingTime+, a software suite that includes ShowingTime, dotloop, 3D Home tours and interactive floor plans, and Bridge Interactive. The brand has expanded, but the mission remains the same: We’re focused on providing a suite of technology and tools to help agents and brokers succeed by helping their customers succeed.
The digital transformation of real estate is well underway. At ShowingTime+, we’re thinking about how we can equip agents with tech that enables them to deliver elevated real estate experiences for their clients and puts them at the forefront of this transformation.
As an industry, however, we still have a long way to go. A recent survey found that 50% of buyers cry at least once during the home-buying process. I’d like to shine a light on two of our key tech offerings that are helping the industry do better: interactive floor plans and real-time availability for tour scheduling.
These two offerings also happen to be freely available to all in the industry who would like to use them. That’s because we believe in this technology and its ability to improve home shopping, buying and selling for customers and their agents. (In short, we want to minimize those buyers’ tears.)
Not crying is one thing. Creating a truly delightful real estate experience is another, and home buyers are demanding digital solutions to make the home shopping, touring, and buying process simpler and, dare I say, enjoyable.
Take virtual touring, for example. In recent surveys, 61% of home buyers said they wish more listings included 3D tours. And, almost three out of every four sellers said they are more likely to hire an agent who includes virtual tours and/or interactive floor plans in their services.
For these home shoppers and sellers, we recently announced an update to our virtual touring offering, what we’re calling an interactive floor plan. This AI-powered medium uses machine learning to generate floor plans and import each listing photo, placing them on the floor plan. Interactive floor plans give shoppers an in-person perspective of a home’s shape and flow that simply scrolling through photos could never do.
For agents and photographers who capture listing media, we’re investing in making these interactive floor plans accessible and easy to use, from capturing and editing to sharing across platforms. Powered by ShowingTime+ tech, the interactive floor plan is available to use for free on listings anywhere. The only cost to get started is the camera.
What’s more, these interactive floor plans now automatically syndicate to Redfin and several MLSs, with more broker and MLS syndication agreements in the works. When we announced the partnership with Redfin, some wondered why we would give our tech away to a “competitor.”
The answer is simple: High-quality listing content, and more of it, gives home shoppers confidence, streamlines their search process and makes them better prepared for when they do find the one. Wherever home shoppers are looking, they have a more immersive and enriching experience. And when buyers, sellers and their agents win, we all win.
What about the home shoppers who are ready to take the next step and tour in person? You’ve found the one, the floor plan is perfect, you’re ready to meet up with your agent and go see it. You try to schedule an in-person tour after seeing the listing online — and after a lengthy back-and-forth between your agent, the seller, and their agent, scheduling the tour took longer than the actual tour itself. This inefficient, slow, repetitive process wastes agents’ time and is frustrating to everyone involved.
Imagine going on OpenTable to make a dinner reservation at a popular restaurant. There are tons of time slots available, so you select tonight at 7 p.m. and make your evening plans accordingly. Then the restaurant calls you to tell you they don’t really have any tables available tonight, but they could get you in next Tuesday at 1 p.m. Not a great customer experience, right?
To solve this problem in real estate, our team recently launched a new ShowingTime feature that displays actual home tour availability (like OpenTable displays actual restaurant availability). This feature, known as real-time availability, is an integration, via a ShowingTime application programming interface (API), that is available to display on all agent and broker websites, for free.
A simpler, more efficient tour scheduling process means sellers can showcase their homes to more buyers who are ready to go. ShowingTime’s real-time availability display also alleviates the burden on agents to manage showing requests that conflict with unavailable times, a pain point that we know has been plaguing seller’s and buyer’s agents for years.
When more agents take advantage of time-saving technologies — no matter whom or where the tech comes from — the result is twofold: Not only do agents discover higher-intent home shoppers who are well-prepared and ready to transact, but they also have more time to focus on their clients, instead of on processes or paperwork.
At ShowingTime+, we see a huge opportunity to continue improving the real estate experience for agents, brokers, MLSs and the customers they serve. We will keep building tech and tools that elevate the experience that agents can deliver to their clients — in turn, elevating the entire industry.
ShowingTime+ is an expanding suite of products and services designed for real estate professionals, including ShowingTime, dotloop, Bridge Interactive, and 3D Home tours and interactive floor plans. To learn more about how ShowingTime+ technology can help you significantly streamline home showing management, reach out to our Sales Team by clicking the button below.