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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Creating Floor Plans On-Site

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You should never bring work home. And definitely, you should not bring additional work TO THE OFFICE! Are you still taking measurements and sketching your floor plans on-site resigned to long hours polishing your work back in the office? Here is what you can gain by doing something different: using a floor plan app to create digital floor plans designed for listings or appraisal reports even before stepping out the property’s door. 

Importance of Floor Plans in Real Estate and Appraisals

How are Floor Plans used In Real Estate Marketing?

When posting a listing is essential to ultimately look at it through the lens of potential buyers. And buyers love floor plans: adding a floor plan to a listing can increase click-through on the web by 52% and 1 in 5 buyers would even completely ignore a listing that does not include one (Source Rightmove).

And why wouldn’t they? Imagine you are buying yourself a new house, one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make in your life. What would you pay attention to other than if the property looks nice from the pictures? You may want to understand the usability of the space, where window and door placements are, and what storage capacities the property offers. That is part of what you can get by viewing floor plans. They go hand in hand with professional real estate photography and help buyers envision themselves inside the property.

As such, floor plans are used in real estate marketing as a

  1. a decision-making tool for homebuyers
  2. a powerful marketing tool for listings.

The richer in details and customization the better: it will make your listing stand out and sell quicker.

How are Floor Plans Used For Appraisals Assignments? Challenges of new GSEs requirements

Floor plans are used in real estate appraisals as an important tool to show a clear overview and layout of the property. But there is more.

You may have heard that the topic “floor plans and appraisals” has been quite under the spotlight lately. The way home appraisals and valuation services are conducted and the role of the appraiser itself is changing, also as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the advent of new technologies. This has led GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to update and standardize the methods used to measure, calculate, and report floor plan details used in appraisal assignments, introducing some major compliance challenges.

ANSI Standards for measurements

First of all, as of April 1, 2022, Fannie Mae demands that appraisals requiring interior and exterior inspections on certain properties (residential properties) must comply with a specific measuring standard from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI, Z765-2021). For instance, floor plans for residential properties must be computer-generated, indicate all the dimensions needed to calculate the GLA (Gross Living Area) of a home, show the calculations to demonstrate how the estimate for GLA was derived, and more (Read the full Standardized Property Measuring Guidelines by Fannie Mae for additional guidance)

Hybrid and Desktop Appraisals and floor plans requirements

In addition, we are seeing the industry adopting and adapting to hybrid and desktop appraisals:

  • From 2019 through today GSEs have been engaged in testing and learning the concept of hybrid appraisals. Those GSE pilots are growing in volume and popularity and may in the future become a standard offering; 
  • In January 2022, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced their support in the selling guide for the 1004 desktop appraisal for certain transactions. The catch is that Fannie Mae requires the appraiser to include a sketch of the home being appraised that shows the exterior dimensions and an interior layout which consists of the interior doors and walls. (Click here for a link to Fannie Mae’s Selling Guide that discusses this).

How Can You Get a Floor Plan?

Creating a Floor Plan with DIY solutions

Whether you are an appraiser that needs it for an assignment, a agent that wants it to market their new listing, or a photographer looking for a profitable add-on service, you can create a floor plan manually sketching and measuring the property yourself. Moreover, there are software that can help you with sketching and allow you to go paperless.

However, drawing a floor plan yourself (either on paper or with drawing software) are DIY solutions that require time, skills, and effort in the field and off-site for editing and finalizing. In addition, you may also need to follow some requirements to measure and report floor plan data (e.g. ANSI Z765-2021).

Creating a Floor Plan with Floor Plan Apps

Luckily, you can say goodbye to manually sketching and measuring floor plans. Nowadays, we have the technology to do that job.

Appraisers, Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs), agents, photographers, homeowners, and all other parties involved with property valuation and real estate sales can now rely on professional floor plan apps that do not require any measuring, sketching, or editing. By using your phone as an indoor scanner, you can gather measurements and create accurate floor plans according to MLS or appraisal reports standards in just a few minutes on-site. Some of these floor scanning apps are set up to comply with ANSI standardization and provide consistent GLA results with little to no training (even homeowners or listing agents can do the scan) – perfect for Hybrid and Desktop Appraisals. Moreover, several customization and branding options on floor plans are available to make your listings stand out and sell quicker.

Why Should You Use a Floor Plan App to Create Floor Plans Directly On-Site?

Read on to discover 5 reasons why you should consider using a floor plan creator app to scan floor plans for your listings or appraisals directly on-site.

1. Simplify Data Collection For Highly Complex Properties with a Floor Plan App 

I had done my homework and knew the home would be difficult to measure all angles and curves, but when I arrived it was FAR MORE EXTREME than I had imagined. The home was shaped like an S

I bet many can relate to David’s experience: sometimes it can happen to arrive at a property and it is larger than expected, or more complex than usual. Let’s take a property like this one as an example:

Complex property. View from above

Large and complex properties, such as architecturally designed houses, can be very difficult to sketch on paper or with conventional floorplan software. 

Moreover, there is a higher risk for human error and inaccuracy of results. Now, floor plan apps completely remove human guesswork and error from the equation. How? The app uses advanced image-recognition technology and a QA process to convert your smartphone scan into high-fidelity floor plans and measurements. The only requirement is to shoot a video and walk around the space: no manual measuring or sketching.

Some apps have tailored their technology to meet appraisal standards (ANSI Z765-2021) and requirements, to better assist the user with properties evaluation and Gross Living Area calculation. You will not need to worry about the weather either since you scan the property from inside. A floor plan app will reduce the need for rescheduling or spending too long at a property while minimizing errors in gathering property data.

Floor plan with Gross Living Area
GLA floor plan, first floor. (Green rooms – included in the GLA calculation, Red rooms – not included). Created with CubiCasa
Floor Plan with Gross Living Area
GLA floor plan, second floor. Created with CubiCasa


Read the full story on David Schiffmayer’s experience with CubiCasa on a complex, S-shaped property here.

2. Save Time and Make the Most out of your On-Site Visit

Time is the most valuable commodity – I bet most real estate professionals will relate to this statement. So why not save lots of time and frustration in the field and off-site by letting AI and computer vision software do the heavy lifting for you?

You can get rid of your tape measure – no need to spend time with any sketching or measuring. No need to move furniture out of the way or invest in expensive hardware.

How long does it take? Indoor scanning takes a few minutes and the floor plan is generally available in less than 24 hours. What is the output? A professional 2d- digital floor plan complete with Gross Living Area (GLA) floor plan and area calculations. The floor plan will include everything you need to understand the property’s flow: area and interior walls, stairs, and door openings. Based on your needs you can ask for more details (e.g. include all fixed furniture) or customization (e.g. change colors or walls and rooms).

Needless to say, you will save time in the office as well. No need to worry about converting a hand-drawn sketch into a digital floor plan or editing. The technology will enable faster closings, with less uncertainty and delay as all parties wait for the appraisal.

3. No Training is Needed for Accurate Property Data Collection and GLA with a Floor Plan App

Now, here’s the revolution of floor plan creator software: Anybody can produce a professional floor plan and accurately report square footage information and GLA without any sketching or measuring skills. Here are two scenarios to help you better understand the impact of the previous statement.

First of all, let’s consider hybrid and desktop appraisals. When appraisers perform these assignments, having access to accurate property data and reliable square footage information is paramount. This can be challenging when non-appraiser-third parties collect data. However, the app removes the agency of the scanner over the final floor plan and GLA calculations. Even if it’s the listing agent/homeowner (interested party) with little to no measuring/sketching skills performing the scan, it is the software (disinterested source) producing the final output. As such, appraisers can rely on those data even if an interested party has collected them. Can a floor plan app support the traditional appraisal process as well? Absolutely – Use it as an additional data source to choose among/double proof other sources (e.g. MLS, Public Record, etc,…). In addition, it can even help appraiser trainees in their learning process.

Needless to say, the easiness of use of these apps comes in handy if you are a real estate agent that looks for an easy solution: you can conduct the scan yourself or work with one of the thousands of real estate photography companies that already leverage these technologies and offer floor plans as add-ons.

Watch our free Webinar on how these emerging technologies are contributing to the modernization of the appraisal and mortgage industry: “Let’s Talk Appraisals” Webinar with Jeff Allen & John Brenan (Chief Appraiser at Clear Capital).

4. Boost Your Productivity On The Go and Generate More Revenue 

Your customers require you to get things done faster and more efficiently than competitors. That is why you must manage your time well and get work done hassle-free while in the field. The right floor plan app can help reduce inefficiencies and increase productivity on the go – you will have more time and energy to focus on what you do best.

Do you work as an appraiser? You will complete site inspections faster and focus on more high-level functions like market analysis and value conclusion. Agent? Focus on spending time with clients, getting new listings, or showing homes. Real Estate Photographer? You will accomplish more in the field and focus on offering a wide selection of services to your clients. On top of optimizing your workflow, it can also bring in more profits. For example, floor plans are one of the easiest add-ons for photography services with a high gross margin. For example, most active certified photographers take 20-60 scans a month and have been able to increase their monthly profits by $1000-$3000 with a small amount of extra work per shoot.

Viewing CubiCasa Floor Plan
Having a floor plan is one of the most profitable add-ons for your real estate photography package

Not sure how you can start selling floor plans as an add-on as a real estate photographer? Here are some sales pitches to help you do that.  

5. Stay On Top of New Trends and Access new Business Opportunities

“If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” This quote is from General Eric Shinseki, who served as the seventh United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. New technologies are disrupting the real estate and mortgage industry and it is better to stay up-to-date on trends and best practices. It’s not always easy to change how you work as a professional, especially with several years of experience. But those who fail to adopt and adapt to new technologies will most likely find themselves on the wrong end of Shinseki’s quote. Benefiting from the advanced technologies of floor plan apps will enhance your image as a capable, cutting-edge professional. It will set you apart from your competitors. And needless to say, most likely your reward will be the access to new business opportunities. 2019 Appraisal Income Guide by McKissock stated that appraisers who are successful at adopting new technologies earn over $44,000 more per year than appraisers who fail to leverage those tools. Now, all you have to do is find the floor plan solution that fits you best.

Creating Floor Plans on-site: Key Takeaways

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Creating Floor Plans On-Site Using a Floor Plan App

  1. Simplify Data Collection For Highly Complex Properties with a Floor Plan App
  2. Save Time and Make the Most out of your On-Site Visit
  3. No Training is Needed for Accurate Property Data Collection and GLA with a Floor Plan App
  4. Boost Your Productivity On The Go and Generate More Revenue 
  5. Stay On Top of New Trends and Access new Business Opportunities

How to Find The Best Floor Plan App For You? 

Emerging technologies continue to disrupt the real estate and appraisal industry. As a result, more and more professionals and companies are embracing the advantages of digitalization in collecting property data and creating floor plans. There are several floor plan apps available on the market. Be aware that each app has its recommendations and requirements and one solution could fit you better than another. While scanning, for example, some apps require tapping on the screen to mark the doors and corners. Also, for some apps, you will need to use special hardware and software for the scanning process (e.g Matterport). If you are looking for an easy solution that does not require sketching, tapping on corners, or assembling the floor plan after scanning, then CubiCasa app could be the best solution for you.

CubiCasa is a floor plan creator app available for both Android users and iOS users. 5 minutes of scanning with your phone – that’s all it takes. Moreover, CubiCasa mobile app is set up to comply with ANSI standardization and provide consistent GLA results.

most user friendly floor plan software
CubiCasa is one of the most user-friendly floor plan softwares on the market

CubiCasa has recently announced a free floor plan product in the United States and lower pricing for all its product, globally. 

Users will now have more freedom to pick and choose the features they want. Here are the add-ons you can choose for an extra charge:

  • Fixed Furniture;
  • GLA Report;
  • 6h turnaround.

Default floor plans will be customizable with your logo, colors, and style – at no extra charge!

Please find out more about pricing here or contact us if you have any question!

Author: Aarne Huttunen

Aarne is the Chief Product Officer at CubiCasa. His main priority is to ensure that CubiCasa's users love to use the CubiCasa App and related APIs. Most likely you'll spot him next to a coffee cup in Helsinki or meet him in a conference running a wild scanning demo!

We're building technology to digitize the real estate around us, and while doing it, helping families to find better homes, approve mortgages and renovate their homes. We are located in Oulu, Helsinki, San Jose, and Ho Chi Minh City. Currently we are especially looking for software developers to join our team.

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