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Why Are Floor Plans Gaining New Importance?

June 13 2022

floor planShould every home listing have a floor plan?

With the growing popularity of 3D tours, floor plans are part of the package. Floor plans give home shoppers additional perspective on any tour, even an immersive 3D virtual tour.

Adding a floor plan to a listing is gaining a lot of attention these days, and for several good reasons.

Research tells us that floor plans are important to buyers. Buyers want them. Floor plans were ranked No. 3 on a list of the most valuable website features for home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generation Trends Report.

Photos topped the website features list desired by 89% of all buyers, followed by property listing details (86%). Floor plans (67%) were ranked higher than virtual tours (58%) and neighborhood information (53%).

Rightmove found that adding a floor plan to a listing can increase click-throughs by 52%. Conversely, listings without floor plans mean buyers would be less likely to view the property for one in ten. According to Zillow, a floor plan is the second most important listing feature and correlates to capturing potential leads.

Companies have created technology that harnesses the remarkable power of today's smartphones for an agent to scan a home and create a floor plan in minutes. Even MLSs are leading the way in encouraging the addition of floor plans to real estate listings.

FBS, creators of FlexMLS and one of the largest MLS tech providers in the nation, deployed FloPlan as part of its FBS IDX solution. A simple app allows an agent to scan the home – in about 10 minutes – and then converts the scan to a floor plan the agent can include in their listings.

It's even easier with a 3D tour, as the agents don't have to lift a finger to create a floor plan. Instead, the photography process does all the calculations and measurements. So, in addition to making the user-driven tour and a 3D dollhouse view, a traditional floor plan is also created.

Enter the 800-lb gorilla

What may change the game when it comes to answering the question, "Should every listing have a floor plan?" is what is happening at Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae continues to be the 800-lb gorilla of the housing market one can't ignore.

Fannie Mae alone holds $4.2 trillion (yes, with a "T") in total assets and its net earnings were $22.2 billion last year. Fannie Mae and Freddie still purchase two-thirds of all home loans.

Recently, Fannie Mae made a breakthrough announcement that directly impacts floor plans. For many years, Fannie Mae's underwriting system allowed specific properties to forgo a full appraisal and use a desktop (remote) appraisal instead. These properties were limited to refinances.

In March, Fannie Mae announced desktop appraisals as an option that would include home purchase loans. However, according to reports, eligible properties must still be in a market where the data is widely available and accurate. Freddie Mac also followed suit and now allows desktop appraisals for qualified purchases.

The timing is crucial for the housing market, as there is a shortage of appraisers. People are just not going into the profession to replace those who are retiring or otherwise leaving the business. The Appraisal Institute reports that more than 10,000 appraisers have left the industry since 2013 – more than 10% of the workforce.

Appraisal brain drain is growing. The AI also says more than half of all appraisers are approaching retirement age and that one-in-five are 66 years old or older. As a result, appraisal completion times in some markets take as long as two months.

But what do the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac desktop appraisal expansions have to do with floor plans? A mobile app can capture the data Fannie needs for its desktop appraisal.

The key is to figure out how agents can scan a floor plan as part of their workflow – and at what price point does it make sense?

Providing the new floor plan solution

At HomeJab, we manage hundreds of professional real estate photography assignments each week and see the growing interest in 3D tours, which, again, all feature floor plans.

The opportunity for these new floor plans fits right into the HomeJab model and our platform. Our real estate photographers are already visiting homes to take listing photos, 3D tours with floor plans, virtual tours, drone footage, and more. Adding a new scanning service seems like a no-brainer. It will all come down to the economics.

To fulfill the requirements of a desktop appraisal, you need these new, more in-depth floor plans. They deliver a different value than consumer desire. They help buyers avoid paying hundreds of dollars for a full appraisal and eliminate the waiting game.

What is a reasonable cost to add a new floor plan into a photo package or a standalone assignment? At HomeJab, we are working to make the economics work. It needs to be affordable for the buyer, accessible for their agent, the photographer, the remote appraisal firm, the lender, and of course, meets Fannie Mae's guidelines.

HomeJab is looking to help facilitate the growth and availability of new floor plans those remote appraisals will create.

Joe Jesuele is the founder and CEO of HomeJab, America's most popular and reliable on-demand professional real estate photography and video marketplace for real estate pros and architect of the real NFT Marketplace. HomeJab delivers over 4,000,000 images to help agents sell and rent more than $35 billion in listings.