Getting all the decision-makers to attend a property showing can be challenging for real estate agents. A new software application, SmartShow, is leveraging the Internet to create real-time access and provide interactive ability to property showings — for anyone, anywhere, who needs to attend but can’t be there in person.
We asked SmartShow’s Vice President of Business Development, Ted Venema, to tell The Real Estate Blog’s readers what the app does and how real estate agents can use it for their property showings.
The Real Estate Blog: Describe SmartShow’s software and what it does for real estate agents.
Venema: For many real estate agents, when they’re trying to do showings, it’s difficult to get the entire set of stakeholders — all the decision-makers — to actually see the property. That results in multiple showings and going back and forth to the property. The concept behind SmartShow is that while a real estate agent is showing a property to at least one buyer in person, at the same time, anybody anywhere else in the world can be seeing what they’re seeing. Remote participants can actually take part in the discussion at the time of the showing, instead of only getting filled in on the details later.
By using a smartphone, tablet or SmartGlasses, people anywhere in the world see what you see when you see it, and can talk about it in real time. A remote participant might say something to the person who is physically at the property (which could be a member of the buying group, or just the agent) like, “Go back and have another look at that kitchen.” The agent can walk back and instantly show the remote participant what they wanted to see.
It’s streamed out in real-time via the Internet using either wireless or cellular connections. It’s not like you’re recording something and viewing it later. You’re participating as it’s happening — live. Just like you would be if you viewed a home showing in person.
TREB: How would real estate agents get access to doing this?
Venema: You sign up for our service online at smartshow.com. Once in your account, you add in your property and client information. When you have at least one property and one client, you can schedule a showing. The clients you choose to be part of that showing are automatically sent an email with the necessary information for participating: the date, time and link to the showing. All they have to do is click the link, and they’re ready to participate.
When a showing is scheduled, SmartShow generates a QR code, similar to what airlines use for boarding passes. This unique code is what the agent uses to start the showing.
To carry out a showing, the real estate agent just needs to download the free SmartShow app (available from the app store for iPhone/iPad or GooglePlay for Android devices). At the time of the showing, the agent simply opens the app on their smartphone, tablet or pair of SmartGlasses and scans the showing’s QR code. The showing instantly begins automatically, and your remote participants are there, ready to see the property and talk with you about it.
Your device’s camera starts up, and whatever you see is seen by those participating remotely. Everyone at the showing — both local or remote participants — can interact with each other using a two-way voice connection. The video and audio from the showing, including everyone’s comments, is automatically uploaded to SmartShow as a recording for later viewing, or sharing, as well.
TREB: What does this cost? Benefits?
Venema: Signing up and downloading the app is free. After that, real estate agents pay either $20 per showing, or $99 a month for unlimited usage. The benefits are you get everyone who needs to be involved, or wants to see the showing, to see it at the same time. This cuts down dramatically on multiple showings. Also, your buyers can easily review the showing later to double check what they saw, in case they forget a certain detail about the property.
The other big benefit is that potential buyers get to see what they want to see. One of the criticisms with 360-degree virtual tours is they’re nice, but created with a marketing spin on them. When you see the house in person, it often doesn’t look exactly like the virtual tour. With SmartShow, buyers are in control by doing the viewing themselves or by directing an agent to go around and look at the house, effectively creating their own tours of what they want to see.
The other nice advantage is that everything is recorded, so anyone with the link can look at it later as many times as they want. The video is recorded along with all the audio.
In many cases, a local buyer is there for the SmartShow showing, but buyers or representatives of buyers can also use the technology to do a preview showing without anyone being there except for the real estate agent. A buyer can simply guide them around the property, asking questions as needed and seeing the parts of the property they care about, before taking the time to visit it in person.
SmartShow is also, as the name implies, very smart. Real estate agents have told us they love the fact that if they walk into a place that doesn’t have Internet access, such as a garage or outdoors, they don’t lose their remote participants. The technology is sophisticated enough to recognize when there is no Internet, and continues to record the showing. The app will automatically reconnect with all remote participants upon re-entering WiFi or cellular range. At the moment that you actually reconnect, the software automatically uploads the piece that was missing (when you were out of range) and stitches everything back together for you.
Yet another benefit of SmartShow is that agents can use the software to create their own virtual tours, without needing Internet access and remote participants. They can tour the property, as if they were doing a showing, and SmartShow creates a complete recording including their narrative. The resulting recording can be added to a website or sent via email to anyone they choose.
In essence, this technology is using the Internet and devices that real estate agents already have in ways that improve their day-to-day professional activities — a growing concept called the Internet of Things.
TREB: If agents want to use the SmartGlasses, what do they need to know?
Venema: SmartShow plans to support many SmartGlasses vendors. The best known is Google, who came out with Google Glass last year. Google Glass was actually pulled off the market because Google marketed it as something that was going to be used in a social setting – you could wear them while walking down the street. But what they’re doing now is getting ready to announce their latest version, which is pointed more toward the commercial markets. The glasses are more robust … and are, therefore, capable of doing the kinds of commercial applications like we’re talking about here. We are also working with other SmartGlasses vendors such as Vuzix, Epson Movario, ODG and Recon.
TREB: What is the future of SmartShow?
Venema: Based on customer feedback, we are constantly adding things to make SmartShow more usable. In the near future, we also plan to introduce augmented reality. So, for example, you’re viewing the kitchen counters in the house. SmartShow will recognize that you’re looking at the counters, and additional information about the cabinetry pops up. Perhaps, that they were replaced in 2014. That’s moving more into the world of virtual reality, where it recognizes what you see and adds information. It’s certainly doable, but we’re not quite there yet.