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Interactive floor plans, virtual renovation tools: Barfoot & Thompson shakes up real estate market

Interactive floor plans, virtual renovation tools: Barfoot & Thompson shakes up real estate market

Prospective buyers can ‘mentally move in’ and even ‘virtually renovate’ their next home

People will be able to imagine what it is like to live there before they walk through the door at the first open home

Chris Dobbie, Barfoot & Thompson CEO

Barfoot & Thompson has deployed interactive property marketing tools that it says will transform the way Aucklanders buy and sell real estate. 

Barfoot & Thompson, which sells around one in three Auckland residential homes, worked with digital visualisation specialist DIAKRIT to introduce the suite of interactive and engaging marketing tools across its residential listings.

The new property marketing packages include high quality, magazine-style photography taken only by professional, DIAKRIT-trained photographers to ensure a consistent look and feel across every listing.

The listings will feature interactive floor plans, 3600 photo panorama tours and virtual renovation tools.

“These new tools lift the standard in property marketing, providing a better quality and more true-to-life online experience with every Barfoot & Thompson listing,” says CEO Chris Dobbie.

With strict quality guidelines, there will be no shadow-filled or fish-eyed photography in sight, says Dobbie, in a statement.

The focus is on visual clarity with straight-forward and engaging angles, natural light and colours, and snapshots that give a sense of the home’s true character.

“Every shot by DIAKRIT’s trained photography team will make the viewer feel more at home in the photo, and the 3600 photo panorama tours are almost like stepping through the door in person,” says Dobbie.

He says the interactive floor plans will inspire buyers to ‘mentally move in’ and plan their next home with digital furniture and decor. The 3600 photo panorama tours will invite buyers for virtual viewings onscreen or use a VR headset, from anywhere and at any time.

Simon Casey, Barfoot & Thompson CIO: "From the start, the DIAKRIT project had excellent business sponsorship with the senior team all agreeing that significant value would be created for buyers and sellers."
Simon Casey, Barfoot & Thompson CIO: "From the start, the DIAKRIT project had excellent business sponsorship with the senior team all agreeing that significant value would be created for buyers and sellers."

The virtual renovation tools will encourage buyers to create their perfect kitchen by digitally customising the colour and material of cupboards, flooring, benchtop and splashback.

The interactive tools allow house hunters to digitally move in furniture and even renovate their prospective new home, helping them better envisage what the spaces might look like with their personal touch.

He says all all Barfoot & Thompson’s residential properties, and not just multi-million dollar homes, will use the DIAKRIT tools as part of their marketing plan.

The quality and capability of the new tools will put Barfoot & Thompson’s vendors streets ahead of their competition, no matter their property’s price bracket, he says.

“People will be able to emotionally connect with a property and imagine what it is like to live there before they walk through the door at the first open home.”

He says the tools will not replace the traditional open home, but potential buyers will be better prepared to make the most of physical viewings, and able to refresh their memory afterwards.

Read more: No shortcuts to becoming a digital business

“All of this increases the likelihood of a successful sale for our vendors.”

Barfoot & Thompson says the new tools are being piloted in seven branches: Epsom, Greenlane, Papakura, Pukekohe, Remuera, Tuakau and Waiuku.

The tools will be rolled out across its 75 branches by September.

Lessons on international collaboration

“From the start, the DIAKRIT project had excellent business sponsorship with the senior team all agreeing that significant value would be created for buyers and sellers,” says Simon Casey, Barfoot & Thompson CIO.

He and his team worked with the DIAKRIT technical team to explore a range of integration options with careful consideration of risk versus time for each option.

“Our UX designer did a fantastic job establishing new designs for barfoot.co.nz to support the new products,” says Casey.

“Our API development team managed the data integration with Diakrit and our senior business Analyst managed the workflow, testing and delivery progress.”

“We followed an agile approach by testing the end to end process with a few live listings and the results were outstanding. Full deployment was staggered with pilot branch offices followed by all branch offices going live within three months,” he states.

He says the challenge of working with an international team was overcome by running the solution design workshop in Auckland with key people attending in person.

“Communication was maintained with email, Trello and weekly video conferences for both business and IT progress," says Casey.

“New Zealanders have a reputation for being innovators and early adopters, and we are excited to see how the Auckland market embraces this new technology,” notes DIAKRIT executive director and co-founder Dick Karlsson.

Established in Sweden in 2001, DIAKRIT is also present in Australia, USA, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Thailand.

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Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz @divinap

 


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Tags innovationAPIdigital marketingHousingUIBarfoot & Thompsoncustomer focuschief digital officerdigital disruptionvirtual realitycio and ceoUXcxCIO and CMOdigital innovationSimon Caseyreal propertyDIAKRIT

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