I will never buy a home with a bathroom opening into a kitchen or dining room. I will never buy a home with a fireplace in a corner, off-center or next to the front door. I will never buy a home with an enclosed kitchen that can’t be opened, nor one requiring off-site laundry. Deal-breakers — we all have them for every aspect of our lives. I won’t date smokers or the tattooed. I won’t buy a non-white car. Of course my deal-breakers are someone else’s checkbox item. One man’s trash … blah, blah, blah.
Agents, how many times have you shown a property, and within seconds heard “no” from a buyer? How much of your and your buyer’s time has been wasted getting to that visceral “no”? The home buying process has already been made more efficient by using the MLS and creating listings that offer pictures, virtual tours, room and lot dimensions, school districts, and the like. So why doesn’t the average U.S. home listing include a floor plan while other countries do?
Oh, and it’s doubly maddening to see high-rise listings without a floor plan when all that’s typically required is a stop by the front desk to pick up a copy.
In order to move the needle a bit, I’ve looked into the costs and offers of three companies offering a floor plan creation service specifically for real estate agents.
Headquartered in Charleston, S.C., with offices in 10 other metro areas, including Dallas and Houston, Floor Plan Visuals offers everything from 3D exterior renderings and animations to the humble single-family home/condo floor plan.
Pricing for floor plans ranges from $149 to $289 and is based on square footage. For example, $149 would be for condos under 750 square feet while $289 would cover up to 5,000 square feet. They’ll handle larger homes but those require a custom quote.
Of course there are add-ons available from square footage calculators ($35) to furniture placement ($65-$85) to site plans ($105-$125) and pools/courts ($50). If DCAD is accurate, square footage would only be needed for new-builds.
One plus to having a Dallas office is that Realtors don’t have to do the measuring themselves. Just make an appointment and they do all the work. Easy-peasy.
Imagine me as the buyer. In the above floor plan, I can see that “Bedroom 4” assumes live-in servants (sooooo not me) and the living room has only one wall for a TV, which turns its back on the views from all the windows. The Master bedroom also proves that while women earn less than men, they reclaim some of that inequality in bathroom and closet real estate. She gets a palace while he gets a closet and bath with a hallway running through the middle. The laundry is also on the other side of the world from the Master, again assuming servants or Fitbit junkies. Aside from being too large overall, I wouldn’t ask my Realtor to show me this property, saving us both time.
Realty Floorplans is located in Illinois, and therefore only offers DIY floor plans in Dallas. DIY means that the agent measures the rooms and jots the basic layout on paper (graph paper works best). The measurements and layout are scanned or photographed and sent to the company who turns them into a real floor plan. Their deliverables are slightly simpler than those of Floor Plan Visuals, but they’re often less expensive too.
For properties measuring up to 1,000 square feet the cost is $69 while homes from 4,000 to 5,000 square feet cost $149 compared to $149 and $289 respectively from Floor Plan Visuals. Of course, a large part of the savings are that the Realtor is doing the measuring and initial diagrams themselves.
Again, me as buyer: the first floor has potential. I could easily open the kitchen, living, and dining rooms. The fireplace isn’t next to the front door, and so furniture wouldn’t be facing it (as though everyone is waiting for a mystery guest or new kid in class to enter). The powder room is adjacent to the kitchen but baffled by the laundry room. Upstairs is more challenging. I hate bedrooms with a dimension under 12-feet … especially if it’s mine (Master). I’d skip this house too.
Furthest afield, Floorplanet.com is located in the UK with a drawing office in the oceanfront city of Durban, South Africa. But remember, it’s the internet age, so don’t let distance worry you. The price is really right!
Like Realty Floor Plans, this is a DIY, measure yourself service that provides you with very detailed instructions and guides to get started. You begin with downloading their form that includes the graph paper, directions and most used symbols. Never fear, there’s a Miami phone number for customer service (however only manned from 8am to noon EST due to time zones as I’m sure calls are forwarded overseas). Once you have your sketch, you scan or photograph it and email it off.
Prices are exceptionally reasonable. Depending on your usage, prices start at $10 plus $2.50 per 1,000 square feet (a 3,000 square foot home would cost $17.50). There are quantity discounts (the prices quoted assume 25 plans per month) so an office might want to setup a master account for all to use. Note: while the initial plan is turned around in 24 hours, revisions can take up to two weeks to return.
Using a laser tape measure and graph paper, it’s easy to diagram a home’s footprint and room locations and dimensions. The company provides a key for denoting toilets, sinks, bathtubs and the like to make it super simple. Trust me when I tell you that whatever you draw, they’ve prettied-up worse drawings.
The above floor plan is the deliverable from the sketch. Not bad, eh? An American might see that tearing out the entry wall and the study walls that they’d have a great open plan ground floor with two fireplaces. A buyer might also realize that by closing in the upper left corner of the second floor bedroom would give it good closet space while realizing that all the windows on this floor face the back of the property and will likely be quieter than the front main street. Finally, a home I’d want to tour!
An agent’s and a buyer’s most valuable resource is time. If you can eliminate deal-breaker listings from your showings, this frees both to concentrate on what’s valuable in a home search. Floor plans are another tool, vastly underutilized by American agents, that can increase the efficiency of home buying.
You may be thinking that floor plans save buyer’s time and you represent the seller. True. But you also don’t want uninterested buyers traipsing through your listings any more than you want the financially unqualified. Also, were floor plans to become standard they’d save everyone time.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.