Back in The Day
Prior to 15+ years in real estate technology, I spent nearly 10 years working with a large Northern California Regional brokerage (1200+ agents, 12+ offices) in a variety of leadership roles. During my decade-long tenure, I led marketing and advertising, non-traditional business development programs, a global relocation operation and an ancillary software company that sold products to Brokers nationwide. I spent a lot of time in and around Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LRE), the Employee Relocation Council (ERC) and the Realty Alliance. In addition to leading teams and divisions, in all of my roles, I spent a big chunk of my time interfacing directly with real estate agents. Each week, I’d travel to multiple office meetings and educate on a variety of topics including inbound and outbound relocation and our referral network, the Seniors program for SRES designated agents, best marketing practices, proprietary advertising programs, the web and how to effectively advertise on the web, in-house design resources, etc.. Easily the most fun and educational part of my job. I value this time in my career for giving me a full spectrum understanding of Brokerage Ops (agent recruiting and retention, financials, etc.) and the REALTORS®. The knowledge I gained has served me well in my more recent roles with real estate technology as I’ve been part of building, educating and promoting real estate technology solutions. Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my time in Brokerage, specifically the years I spent running one of America’s most productive inbound and outbound relation operations, as we’ve developed and brought our FlōPlan floor plan product to market.
A Floor Plan that Changes the Game
FlōPlan is a floor plan app (and system) that enables an agent (or a delegate like team member, assistant, photographer, even homeowner) to scan a listing property with just a cellphone in less than ten minutes. With one tap, the scan is uploaded and returned back to the listing agent as a complete floor plan in less than a day for just $29 or less (for subscribers of MLSs who license FlōPlan from FBS, the cost is just $12 per scan). No training or special equipment is needed. It’s so easy that ANYONE can do it… including Greg Robertson’s teenage son and the grandmother of ex-MichRic-MLS Director-turned FBS-employee-owner, Nathan Andrus (you’ll have to ask him!). The real magic is that for the first time in history, agents can quickly, easily and economically put an accurate floor plan on every one of their listings with just a cell phone.
Today, I consider floor plans to be table-stakes-visual-media. Without a floor plan, listings lack meaningful information and impede (yes, impede) Buyers. Floor plans help Buyers parse through listings faster and with better visibility to make important, early-stage decisions. They help save critical time (very relevant in today’s market) and maximize in-person time investment for touring listings for both a Buyer and REALTOR®. A floor plan on every listing makes home searching better and easier for Buyers while helping Agents more effectively and efficiently serve sellers and buyers (especially if the Buyers are remote). Here’s where my Brokerage background comes back to tap me on the shoulder.
Relocation Nation – We Need to Transform the Experience
Recently, I was reviewing the United Van Lines 2021 Movers Study and was struck by the amount of interstate relocation happening during the pandemic. According to FinTech company Shyft, about 3 million people move interstate each year. I thought about how much easier the work of finding a home in another state would have been for those 3 million people if every listing they perused online had a floor plan. Back in the day, running a very active international relocation program, I experienced first-hand the challenges of remote/relocation Buyers who are inherently operating at a disadvantage. Usually, timelines are tight and it’s far more stressful than the usual local move. Some purchase without ever setting foot in a home while others painstakingly plan out a visit to their new region with their family to see available properties. I remember the work our relocation consultants and agents would do to help Buyers prepare for a trip to their new state to see properties. Literally hours on the phone, emailing (and yes, faxing) dozens of pictures and then walking the client through them in sequence to help thread together details of the home’s spatial layout. Can you imagine?! Tedious, challenging and just arduous. All of this can be remedied with one quick glance of a floor plan that instantly exposes the details: room locations, doors and windows, closets, relationships between rooms, etc.. I can easily imagine many hours, maybe even days of administrative labor being saved and new visibility gained where before it was one, big, blind spot. And, further, how much less stressful, exhausting and expensive would it be to narrow the number of properties to see during a visit with true confidence?!
People, Let’s Do This
With FlōPlan, the technology is readily available to scan and receive a completed, accurate floor plan that can be linked to a listing in less than one day for $29 or less, requiring only a cell phone. As an industry, we have no excuse for failing to meet the needs expressed by consumers for many consecutive years through the NAR’s annual Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report telling us that floor plans are one of the top three most valuable informational elements on a listing. EVERY listing needs a floor plan. Recently, I ran across a Facebook post by the great Valerie Garcia from 1000Watt that said: “Floor plans, people. Buyers want them always. It’s the single easiest way for you to up your game as an agent who knows their stuff. It’s 2022. They’re not just ‘nice to have’ anymore.” I’m guessing every single homebuyer agrees with this. We have the opportunity to make the experience markedly better for all players while improving the listing record (and entire markets) with very little effort or investment. How often do we get to say that? It’s rare when an opportunity to make powerful and meaningful change in our business is both easy and inexpensive. Kind of makes you pause and raise a skeptical eyebrow. But I promise you this one is for real – we have dozens of MLS clients already licensing FlōPlan from us and thousands of happy users*. We should take this “gimme” and run with it! People, let’s do this.
If you’re interested in learning more about FlōPlan for your MLS or organization, drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org. At this time, we do not sell FlōPlan directly to real estate agents.
*Our current user satisfaction ratings are 99% with 99% of users saying they’d use FlōPlan again for future floor plans.