Q&A with Pieter Aarts, CEO & Co-Founder of roOomy
- Jun 30, 2016
San Jose, Calif.—Choosing a new home can sometimes be hampered by an inability to visualize what spaces would look like redecorated. Pieter Aarts, CEO & co-founder of roOomy, discusses with MHN how virtually staging a home can help realtors connect with their customers, as well as the way this technology can add value to multifamily properties.
MHN: Who utilizes roOomy and what are the advantages of the app?
Aarts: The roOomy platform connects real estate professionals and home furnishings retailers to consumers at the moment they are considering a home purchase or property rental.
Through our innovative app, users can experience any room in 3D and virtually decorate it with real furnishings and accents. For instance, real estate agents can virtually stage property listings with products from leading furniture brands. This is extremely beneficial to agents and sellers, as staged properties result in a higher conversion percentage and increased sales commissions. Potential home buyers can view available properties in 3D and personalize the space with their favorite decor in a few clicks, creating a virtual home and eliminating visualizations problems that can plague the process of shopping for a new home.
roOomy partners with retailers to make products available for “e-decorating”. Real estate agents and consumers have the freedom to select items from a library of drag and drop furnishings to place into their 3D-generated rooms. Users can test different style options, move items around, and even change materials and color schemes. Once a piece of furniture has been installed in the virtual room, it can be purchased through the roOomy app and delivered directly to the current/future home.
MHN: How does virtually staging a home impact the sales price and the speed in which the property is sold?
Aarts: Virtual staging provides a home makeover without the heavy lifting. It attracts prospective buyers, while eliminating the cost and hassle of a renovation or physical staging effort (professional home stagers can charge between $100 – $150 hourly). The Real Estate Staging Association found that professionally staged listings spend 72 percent less time on the market. Home shopping is heavily based on first impressions, and virtual staging expedites the process, as potential buyers can feel like they are “home” before even setting foot in the neighborhood.
As virtual shopping becomes common practice for residential properties, more transactions are being completed long distance without a physical visit or tour. roOomy gives potential residents the power to immerse themselves in their new space through the powerful e-decorating app. The ability to create a highly personalized look and feel in an unfamiliar place connects buyers to their new home, providing a level of ownership and emotional comfort that cannot be achieved through a physical tour.
MHN: How can virtual staging technologies be effectively utilized on multifamily properties?
Aarts: Multifamily properties cater to a very diverse demographic of residents. The ability to stage the same apartment in multiple styles allows for greater marketing opportunities, as the unit can be “adjusted” to accommodate different renters’ tastes. For example, an apartment with comfortably rustic interiors may catch the eye of one potential renter, while a minimalist modern interpretation of the same space appeals to another. Through virtual staging technologies like roOomy, apartment owners have the power to virtually stage both vacant listings and upcoming pre-lease units.
MHN: How did you come up with the concept?
Aarts: We began by converting 2D images into 3D interactive models. The quality of our work caught the attention of one of the country’s largest REITs, who approached us with the idea of bringing this technology to the multifamily market.
MHN: What type of platform does roOomy use?
Aarts: roOomy is currently available for download in the iTunes store for both iPad and iPhone. In addition to the mobile platform, roOomy is also available on laptop and desktop browsers via a proprietary Webviewer, which allows apartment owners to easily embed a 3D interactive function to their website(s).
MHN: Who are your competitors and what do you think the future holds for the product you are offering?
Aarts: Currently, roOomy’s only true competitor is Autodesk Homestyler. Our first-to-market approach has allowed us to be at the forefront of this growing industry, and serve as a true virtual staging innovator.
As real estate and technology continues to converge, virtual staging products are necessary to cater to the changing demands of an increasingly tech-savvy consumer market. The National Association of Realtors recently found that 43 percent of home shoppers across generational and economic lines are now turning to online research as the first step in their hunt, while just 15 percent contact a realtor in the preliminary stages of home shopping.
There is an urgent need for real estate agents to adapt and utilize a digital-first approach. Instead of taking a back seat to technology, real estate agents should be embracing these changes and work them into all available and upcoming listings to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately drive sales conversions.