Real Estate Agents are my clients. They hire me to create one-of-a-kind interactive marketing materials to promote & market their luxury properties online. We depict the WHOLE PROPERTY, not just the structure ... it magnifies to over 6400% .. so every detail is made available to the Buyer's inspection.. whether they are around the corner or across the world. A SMARTePLAN is an interactive, self-contained mini-brochure accessible off our MLS (and other online locations) 24/ 7.
Most expensive property? - $43 million; Largest home? - 30,000 sqft; Largest Property? - 14 Acre Equestrian Farm with 3 BR Home, 8-stall barn, 8 cross-fenced pastures, covered and lighted training pen, outdoor riding arena with stadum lighting and 2 acre lake in the middle of the property.
We even do new construction for builder's -- we create a full set of interactive online plans that sell it before it is completed --or most recently, before its even started to the tune of $2.8 M.
All different properties, but each pretty much follows the same process:
The real estate agent contacts me and asks for my "next available" and we calendar a date for me to measure the property, based on their description of the sq ft; buildings (ie quarters over garage); and features of the property (ie formal parterre gardens, pool, gazebo, etc.)
I do 1000 sqft an hour so a 3000 sqft house will take me 3 hours-ish on the property. If over 6000 sqft I book a 2nd day as back-up
I confirm the date / time of booking and any additional information (ie gate code, name of estate manager, housekeeper or whoever is meeting me.)
I mapquest the address and/or drive it by Google Earth so I understand where I'm going and estimate drive times/traffic times
I pull the appraisal report for the property from the county and review it.
I review the property via Google earth: I’m looking at the features of the property (pools, spas, waterfalls, etc.) as well as comparing it to the appraisal report from the county and eyeballing the layout
I print the Google Earth image and calculate any important and useful measurements from a bird’s eye perspective
The day before the job, I reconfirm everything with the real estate agent again
I arrive 15 minutes early and park
I “walk” the front yard noting and sketching architectural details and also the side yards if accessible
I begin processing the front yard with sketches, taking measurements, noting the materials and features; name and position of both landscaping and hard-scaping (ie brick-edged walkway 48” OD and 32” ID; 2 large oak trees est. 50 years old; azaleas; landscape lighting, sprinklers, etc).
At appointed time I ring the bell or knock on the door (if meeting the seller or seller’s representative) and verify I’m parked OK before I go in the house (not blocking the mailman, or trash pick-up that day, or even park waaaay down the street if the photographer is coming to shoot exteriors that day)
I ask my host how their day is scheduled… do they have kids taking naps? Conference calls coming in at certain times? Etc. and plan my onsite time accordingly .. “OK let me do the office first and then I”ll be out of your way before your conference call at 10am…OK?
Begin processing the house, sketching and drawing features as I laser- measure: ceiling height; architectural features; types of crown molding /wainscoting etc. noting the pattern (ie egg-and-dart crown w/dentils; 8” high stacked crown etc.); height, width and type of windows (ie Tall (6’) divided light sash windows with 5” fluted casing and crown molding cornices concealing drapery hardware.) The descriptive elements are EXTENSIVE, it’s easier to show you one instead of trying to list all the features and finishes I typically note for each room.
In addition to noting laser measurements of the property and list of features and finishes, I’m keeping a running list of questions for the Seller. I am respectful of their time, this way I ask them all at once before I leave .. instead of peppering them with questions (ie is the crystal chandelier in the Dining Room Excluded? Is the Living Room light fixture an antique? Etc. )
I’m also keeping a running list of property observations for the real estate agent (ie are you aware that the window casing in Bedroom # 3 is separating from the wall ?)
So I move from room to room measuring, sketching, taking notes and writing down brand names and model numbers if available; usually starting on the first floor and moving “up” to each floor
When the house is done I move outside and process the outside space… loggias, porches, summer kitchens, pools, spas, etc. as needed—noting measurements, placements and description of features
When processing is complete, I ask the seller any unanswered questions I have and also give them the opportunity to ask me anything or tell me anything … and leave
That same afternoon the agent is emailed feet and inches dimension for each room in the property including ceiling heights, windows, bay window alcoves, recessed alcoves and size of walk-in closets
Any brand names or model numbers that I’m not familiar with are googled so the optimum description of the features / finishes is obtained from the manufacturers description
If under 3000 sqft the agent is emailed a DRAFT Amenities text with each room’s dimensions and finished description of features and finishes in a formatted WORD document (ready to cut and paste into brochures). On the last page are additional questions (ie is there a pump on your hot water heater that delivers water faster; ? – SEE LIST )
The agent emails the Amenities Text to the home seller to review and verify. This document is emailed to the agent either the same day the measurements are done, or by Noon the next day
THE NEXT DAY
While the agent and seller are reviewing the Amenities Text (usually the seller walks through the house with it), I’m slapping walls together making sure they fit the laser dimensions I actually took onsite. If not, I backtrack and find my error.
By 3pm the RoughOut is complete, which is a very basic floor plan drawing. Inside each room of the drawing are point-to-point measurement arrows … which not only show that the measurements I reported yesterday are correct but it also shows “how” I measured each room. (i.e. the Family Room is not wall-to-wall it breaks on the edge of the breakfast bar in the Kitchen). This document is a visual record of my onsite point-to-point measurements and remains a permanent part of the file --- three years from now I can tell you EXACTLY how I measured that room by referring to that document.
THE NEXT DAY AFTER THAT
Once the RoughOut is complete I start cleaning up the drawing and putting in all the details, cabinetry, custom symbols and text annotations that make it a patented SMARTePLAN (much different than a regular floor plan)
Once the details are complete with the structure, I start doing the outside space and the non-appraised sq ft keeping track of my time as I render each feature. I also do all the embellishments at this time .. ie inlay the pattern of a marble floor, draw the chandeliers and light fixtures, etc. --- again, keeping track of my time.
The drawing will be completed that day and sent to the Agent along with a quote for the Agent to review. When an agent hires me they pay 20 cents per sqft for me to do all the measuring, drawing, embed 14 photos inside the drawing to launch out of the floor plan, upload everything onto MLS and promote it via social media.
If they asked me to do “Amenities” it is costed at $250 for the first 2 hours and $75/hour thereafter and covers my time of noting all the features onsite and typing everything up in MS WORD ready to cut and paste into a brochure. Your $ 250 will pretty much cover you for a house up to 3200-sqft ish (before you start accruing $75/hour thereafter)
So the quote sent to the Agent with the finished drawing noting these costs and also individually notes the cost of the “extra” features put into the drawing … the pool, the spa, the porch, the dining room chandelier, etc. This is all optional and whatever the agent doesn’t want to pay for is erased from the drawing at no charge.
So the agent sees the finished drawing, they see the cost and they decide what they want to do; they decide what works for them. They tell me how to adjust the drawing to fit their budget and I get that done for them.
They get 14 photos embedded inside the floor plan. Our MLS lets them load 32 photos, so they need to tell me which 14 out of the 32 they want to have embedded into the floor plan.
If they want me to pick "the best" 14 photos for them, I will.
- If they want me to caption their 31 photos I do; it is an hourly charge and usually takes abou 1-1.25 hours to complete, proof & post all 31 on MLS (250 characters per photo, which is max on our MLS).
CHANGES / APPROVALS
Any edits / additions / deletions to either the drawing or the Amenities Text requested by either the Seller or Agent is completed. The drawing and amenities text is signed off on and approved by the Seller (the agent does this and lets me know when it is done)
- Any text changes/edits given to me and not personally witnessed by me onsite are inserted with an asterisk and noted * = Per Seller. Attics are good examples: for the big ones I'm up there measuring them but for many that don't have standing-height storage space -- I just do the "prairie dog pop-up" and look around. I will ask the Seller, -- "Do you have a radiant barrier in your attic?" If they tell me yes -- the Seller is the source of that information, so it is added to the "ENERGY EFFICIENCY " part of the Amenities text and asterisked -- * = Per Seller. So I both generate and retain a paper trail of the source of the information in case it is ever called into question in the future; this helps protect both myself and the listing agent from potential future liability.
UPLOADING / FINISHING
Once the materials are approved I embed the photos inside the floor plan, link up the Amenities Text to the drawing and upload the file(s) onto MLS. The inter-linked files make a seamless, self-contained online brochure that magnifies to over 6400% ---so no detail is too small to see.
I test all the links to be sure they are working correctly
I send cc’s of the files and URL’s to the agent (so they have them in an email they can easily turn around to email out to inquiries)
I send cc’s of the files / URL’s to their specialty sites (ie their Brokerage, Luxury Portfolio of Homes, etc.)
I create a tiny little floor plan billboard that uploads onto our MLS’s photo gallery and acts as a signpost letting people know an inter-active floor plan is available for this property and directions on “where to click” on our MLS to order to access it (ie they recently reconfigured Houston’s MLS and things are in different places).
INVOICING / RECORD-KEEPING
SMARTePLANS accrue to volume discounts. Five jobs at full price means the 6th can be 25% off. Or, if they don’t cash-in at the 25% level and keep their count going … at 10 full price jobs, their 11th can be 50% off (or two 25% discounts).
Their invoice is calculated with the multi-discounts (if applicable) so they can always see the discounted costs available to them.
They can also purchase discount contracts or earn referral discounts and all of the record-keeping and reporting is kept up to date.
If they are a new client my W-9 is emailed to them when their invoiced costs are over the limit so they have that information for me on file when tax time rolls around.
- It's not unusual for the seller to ask for a signed copy of "their" SMARTePLAN, for framing. The listing agent takes care of that.
- I have one agent contemplating giving framed cc's to both sides of the transaction. To the Seller as a momento of "many happy memories spent in this house" and to the Buyer as "wishing you many happy memories in your new home"
- I sign the front as the "artist" and on the reverse of the framed copy is a card with personal sentiments and the agent's name and contact info.
- This allows the agent the opportunity to maintan contact with the seller (of course) but also to establish and maintan a connection with the BUYER.
BLOGGING / SOCIAL MEDIA
I blog about the property on my website blog, my HAR.com blog, and now my (new) rainmaker A/R blog; setting links back to the floor plan URL
I’ll create a graphic for Twitter that includes a copy of the floor plan and a few photos and send out a tweet with a custom graphic (with links back to the floor plan URL)
I’m creating a Chinese language landing page inside China and certain properties will be translated into Chinese language versions and posted there (ie not all properties are suitable for the Chinese market).
I run stats several times a day in Google Analytics and report any heightened activity back to the agent for their properties. (ie someone logged on from the UT Medical Center opened all the photos of the penthouse and spent the most time (7 minutes) reviewing the Master Suite).
I run EOM reports for activity on their properties. (Click on Image to read sample report.
- Every year I send letters to the addresses of new owners who purchased a SMARTePLAN home with a portion of their plan as a sample letting them know a SMARTePLAN was created for thier home and to SAVE THIS LETTER ... and call us when they are ready to sell their home and use their SMARTePLAN. The listing agents contact info is also on the letter.
- After the 1st letter they are on a 3 year rotation for similar types of letters, that are more personalized / customized.
So … that’s what I do. I support the agent however I can; often fielding “buyer” inquiries that my agent receives … “Judith, will a grand piano fit under the elevated staircase?” or See that wall between the two sets of French doors in the Dining room … will a 62” buffet fit in there?
I have a product that helps them GET the listing; helps them KEEP the listing, and helps them ATTRACT new listings --so it is hard at work in every phase of thier sales cycle.
I continue to refine and streamline our processes .. the new website design cut my loading time by about 55%, so I can load faster now. And I continue to invent new capabilities and new techniques … adding three significant developments just this year.
I love, love, love what I do.
Thanks for Stopping By
Judith, the SMARTePLAN Lady