When marketing a property for sale, there are a number of attributes that buyers and sellers today expect ‘as standard’, but while property descriptions and photographs are both crucial, they alone are generally not sufficient.
Whether viewing a property listing online or looking at the particulars in printed format, there are several items that most house-hunters will undoubtedly cast their eye over first in an effort to obtain as much information as instantly possible, and that includes a floor plan which will help them decide if the property is the right one for them.
From providing information about the size of the rooms to the general layout of the property, a floor plan usefully allows prospective buyers to understand how the space flows as well as the relationship or proximity of one room to another, which will give them a better idea of whether or not they should view the property in person, especially if they have a long way to travel.
“Organising and managing a visit can be very demanding and buyers want be sure to have all the information about the property, including floor plans, in order to be able to say if it could be exactly what they are looking for or not before going to see it with their own eyes,” said Simone Rossi, general manager at Gate-away.com.
Aside from help people to visualise the layout of the rooms prior to visiting a property, a floor plan can also offer an applicant that ‘quick reminder’ of precise layout of the dwelling that is sometimes needed at a later stage, especially if the prospective purchaser has viewed several properties in person in a short period of time.
“Floor plans are very useful for reminding a viewer of a property if they have seen quite a few homes over the course of a few days, or even weeks,” said Adam Feather, managing director Robert Anthony estate agents. “In some respects, floor plans are more useful than pictures as they allow people to gain a better understanding of how suitable that particular property is in terms of size and layout.”
To truly appreciate how significant floor plans can be, we only need to refer to a previous study of 10,000 people conducted by Rightmove which revealed that over half of the people surveyed would not instruct an agent if they did not provide a floor plan.
The research found that 78% of vendors rated the importance of having a floor plan when selling as ‘seven out of 10’ or higher, while one in five potential buyers or tenants said they would either “ignore the property advert completely” or “only re-visit it if nothing else caught their eye”, if a floor plan was not provided.
In fact, properties with floor plans generally receive up to 30% more interest than those without, the Rightmove research shows, which largely explains why around two-thirds of listings on the portal now feature floor plans.
“Floor plans are one of the best, essential, tools of marketing and so it is no wonder that most agents today will ensure that every reference to a property, whether online or offline, is always accompanied by a floor plan,” said Trevor Abrahamson (right), director of Glentree Estates.
“Floor plans cut down time wasting since prospective purchasers can determine whether they want to take the matter further, even before they have been to view the property, based on the photos and floor plans,” he added.
Given that floor plans are now an essential element of the property marketing toolkit, it is surprising that there are still so many property listings that do not incorporate plans, especially as agents now have the means of drawing them up onsite, whilst theoretically valuing a property, using an iPad compatible software system, provided by companies such as Metropix and PlanUp, among others.
Not only does compiling a floor plan on an iPad, which generally takes less than five minutes, save time by not having to duplicate work by initially drawing out plans on paper and then transferring them onto a computer back at the office, but it also looks more professional in front of the seller, although it is not just vendors that now demand floor plans.
A recent Rightmove study – yes another one – found that 43% of landlords would not invite an agent to value their home, if they did not provide floor plans as standard.
Furthermore, the same research revealed that tenants ranked the ability to view floor plans as more important than main image and summary text and second only to a selection of images for the property.
Tim Hassell, managing director at Draker, commented: “In an age where information is so fluid, floor plans are basic requirement, that all tenants and purchasers should expect to see in advertising material.
“Agents who provide a well-presented and a more detailed view of their clients’ properties will more likely attract a higher proportion of tenants and purchasers.”
Hassell (left) believes that there is also the crucial point of “brand quality”. Agents who fail to invest in “an essential feature like floorplans” risk being viewed as “cheap” and “behind the times” in the eyes of the general public.
“The only reasons for an agent not to produce a floor plan is purely down to cost or a lack of attention to detail, messages which any professional experienced agent would be keen to avoid sending out.” he added.
Letting floor plans help
With growing appetite among landlords and tenants for floor plans, they are clearly becoming an essential part of letting property with fresh analysis of property listings on the Rightmove property website by Metropix revealing that floor plans were available to view on 16% of rental properties.
This compares to just 5.7% four years ago, when the floor plan provider undertook the same analysis in June 2012.
“Floor plans have been commonplace in the sale of properties for years so why should rental be any different when tenants still have all of the same requirements,” said Peter Fuller, managing director at Romans which has been using floor plans in its rental property listings for more than nine years.
The figures from Meropix, gathered via Mouseprice, an online source of UK property market information, revealed growth of 182% across a three year period of rental properties being marketed with a floor plan, clearly underlining their increasing appeal to both landlords and tenants.
“While the Metropix findings show floor plan usage in the rental market has grown substantially, in our experience providing a floor plan is standard practice for rental properties and is equally important as providing good quality images so I can’t think of too many reasons why an agent would opt not to provide one,” Fuller (right) added.
He continued: “We've been extremely successful in growing our letting business, and the way in which we market a property, of which the floor plan is part, is a stand out factor.”
2D floor plans
A standard 2D floor plan with accurate measurements of the property’s proportions and dimensions, but just on a much smaller scale, accompanied by a selection of high quality images, is generally most popular with residential agents.
Some agents also opt to add to this the use of interactive plans to enable prospective buyers or renters to see the room decoration combined with layout and scale, making it easier for them to know if they then want to book a physical viewing.
Metropix’s interactive Space Planner tool, for instance, which is free to its subscribers, enables consumers to work out how their furnishings will work in a property by allowing prospective buyers and tenants to ‘drag and drop’ furniture onto a drawn floor plan.
“It enables agents to offer a great value-added service to house hunters and we receive a lot of feedback regarding how it helps agents differentiate as well as secure new instructions,” said Brian Farrell, director of Metropix.
In an attempt to differentiate their company from the competition, more agents are now customising their floor plans with logos or colour, while others are choosing to use more elaborate visual enhancements like 3D floor plans.
“We’ve seen a rise in demand for agents to have their floor plans fully branded. This is a combination of bespoke colour schemes, design and logos to ensure the floor plan fits the agent’s marketing style perfectly,” Farrell (above) added.
3D floor plans
3D floor plans, now available in High Definition, are a virtual model of a building floor plan, depicted from a bird’s eye view, utilised within the building industry to better convey architectural plans.
But although 3D floor plans can help increase the user’s retention time on an agent’s website, not to mention make the property listing stand out from the crowd, as a marketing tool they have failed to resonate with many agents, with most still opting to use standard 2D floor plans.
Nevertheless, the introduction of 3D floor plans has whet some agents’ appetite for more and better advanced visualisation systems, such as virtual planning, video walkthroughs, 360 Virtual Tours, motion graphics, property videos and computer generated images, but for now standard 2D plans remain most popular.
Farrell continued: “3D plans and other more premium plans are of course used and many agents like to offer them as a point of difference. 2D plans do however continue to lead the way for their simplicity – they offer what consumers want.”
Marketing floor plans
From window displays and brochures to websites and other digital platforms, you should never underestimate the power of having a floor plan when marketing a property for sale or to let.
Today, you would not consider marketing a property without photos and it is now very much the same with floor plans, as they allow prospective purchasers and tenants to immediately understand the layout of a property, how the space flows and the relationship or proximity of one room to another – buyers and renters are less likely to enquire about a property without a floor plan.
While nothing ultimately beats viewing a property in person, floor plans are undoubtedly a fundamental must-have marketing tool that not only helps to boost consumer interest in a property, but can also increase your chances of winning more business from vendors and landlords.