Realtors need to keep up with the latest gadgets, software

With online real estate databases like Zillow becoming a common tool for home buyers, agents are embracing the ever-growing digital landscape to show off curb appeal.

As Realtors compete for buyers, many are incorporating different marketing tactics to catch the eye of would-be clients perusing the internet for a new home.

“Everything is mobile now, so everything is done on our cell phones.” said Kenny Zerella of William Raveis in Fairfield. “We are pretty much glued to our phones as far as that goes.”

The extent of marketing depends on the listing, but Zerella said it’s common for agents to spruce up visuals of the homes they’re selling with the help of photographers and tech developers in the area.

In Zerella’s case, he has paid out of pocket to have photographs and videos taken to post on his professional site and other platforms.

“The investment is worth it,” he said. “You’re seeing more showings and activity.”

Darien-based realtor Amy Barsanti, of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, highlighted the importance of using social media in innovative ways for more than just post listings.

“I find it fascinating that the more technology people have at their disposal, they actually are craving more personal interaction,” she said. “If you can use technology to create more of a personal connection and show your personality, then that’s ideal.”

Immersive experiences

Some agents have taken things even further, opting for drone videos and virtual tours to create immersive experiences.

Sandy Schupper, who owns Brookfield Photographer in Brookfield, utilizes the latest camera technology to create 3D virtual tours that allow web users to inspect “every square inch” of a home.

“It’s as if you were walking through the house in ultra HD. Go upstairs, downstairs, into rooms, zoom in, rotate - all in 3D virtual reality. You can tour a home from anywhere in the world and it doesn’t matter what the weather is,” said Schupper,. “It’s the latest thing and it’s incredible.”

Using a computer or smart device, visitors can “walk” throughout the home and look around to the left, right, up or down. The tours may also be viewed through Virtual Reality glasses for an even more immersive experience.

Schupper uses Matterport equipment and technology to create the tours. The equipment, which Schupper said looks like a robot on a tripod, utilizes lasers and a variety of lenses to scan the entire home. Top-quality still photographs can be gleaned from the scans, eliminating the need to shoot them separately.

The lasers also provide precise measurements of the rooms and Schupper creates 3D floor plans and doll house views of the home, in addition to the virtual tour.

“The floors plans are real, not animation or drawings,” he said.

Schupper said it takes about three hours to do the on-site work and another six to eight hours to process the footage. Schupper’s premium package includes exterior footage taken by a drone as well as the virtual tour.

“I have differentiated myself with this,” he said. “It also differentiates the real estate agent. The real estate market has gotten so sophisticated and competitive that you need to have an edge.”

New wave of tools

In the past few years, real estate agents are getting an expanding array of new tools, to include mobile listing apps like HomeSnap Pro and RPR; 3D virtual reality from companies like Matterport and BoxBrownie; lead generation tools from CityBlast and RealScout; and other tasks like copying keys with a photo via or measuring room sizes with Magicplan.

One prominent local clearing house for emerging technologies is SmartMLS, the Norwalk-based entity that updates property listings and provides training on new tools for real estate agents statewide. Speaking in May with Hearst Connecticut Media, SmartMLS CEO Kathy Elson said agents have access today to significant technologies to help them present information to clients in new ways, whether sellers or buyers.

“We try to take the training approach of how can the tools we have help you in your business? How can you better help the consumer?” Elson said. “Artificial intelligence (and) predictive analytics are things coming into the market right now. … There’s so many opportunities now.”

As one example, SmartMLS is in the process of rolling out a “Coming Soon” tool that allows agents to market a property that is not yet available for showings or offers, giving them extra runway to build up a pipeline of buyer prospects and giving sellers better visibility of their odds at selling at their target price and the current condition of the home.

The information would be made available to all agents using SmartMLS, as opposed to a “pocket” listing that describes properties circulated through informal networks or online platforms.

Contributions made by Chris Bosak, Alex Soule, and Paul Schott