Don’t Market Vacant Homes. Be HomeKynd: Tech Review

Proptech columnist Craig Rowe reviews virtual staging solution HomeKynd, an app that empowers users to integrate its tools with listing pages, among other benefits.

HomeKynd is a virtual staging solution.

Platforms: Web; fully mobile responsive
Ideal for: Listing and buyer agents; property managers

Top selling points:

• Brokerage listing page embed
• Interior design-selected furnishings
• In-app purchasing
• MLS-compliance
• Consumer-facing UX

Top concern(s):

Only that most virtual staging offerings are part of larger visual marketing and photo-enhancement systems.

What you should know

If you’re not already a virtual staging convert or simply remain a skeptic, I don’t think HomeKynd or any of its competitors will knock you off the fence. You just keep faxing those offers and ignoring the NAR settlement.

However, if you’re familiar with the benefits of virtual staging — no buying furniture sets, burdening sellers with placement/removal, less risk of home damage and fewer days on market — then you probably already know how to use HomeKynd. The interfaces for self-staging environments, as opposed to those services that do it for you, are pretty similar. This is a good thing. This means that competition has room to emerge in the space, like with CRMs or transaction management applications.

What I want readers to notice about HomeKynd is its enterprise level of service and its listing page integration. The former allows entire brokerages to establish accounts and best practices for staging rooms in vacant homes. Because HomeKynd has a number of different styles from which to select, team leaders and marketing teams can ensure agents don’t use the same items from house to house, for example. They can also better report on what homes sell faster because of being staged and even what furnishing brand gets the best results. Remember, staging is a marketing asset; use what it gives you.

The latter, the listing page integration, is a super-smart way to engage buyers directly with the listing and even suggests that, when posting the home, it can be beneficial to leave a couple of rooms vacant to entice the home shopper to start designing. It’s all about getting them to picture themselves in the space.

I’ve long had an issue with staging. Admittedly, I viewed it as a tool for less-than-stellar sales professionals. This likely comes from time selling investment property, where bad carpet and a cabinet hanging by a single hinge didn’t really matter. Thus, it’s possible I wasn’t as good at sales as I thought; maybe it was the revenue stream doing the heavy lifting. I digress.

Kate Ritter, HomeKynd’s founder and lead designer, reminded me during a webinar that people have a hard time visualizing all that a home can be, especially when the canvas is blank. This is why interior designers exist and why contractors draw up plans and show us flooring samples. Her comments hit.

Buyer agents, too, can use HomeKynd. Buyers choosing between a few homes can use it to see what room may look better with the layout they’re aiming for. The software allows still images to be exported and sent in a few clicks, so other parties involved can have a say about the finished project as well.

The software allows for easy upload of captured rooms, but it would be cool to see an option for pulling in images from an MLS ID. Items can be placed as needed, rotated and scaled, and with 22 major brands on board, the options are pretty widespread.

Later this year, HomeKynd will be shipping a fully realized consumer version of its application with an AI engine for faster room designs and existing item removal.

The before and after samples I’ve seen look terrific. And, as HomeKynd is relatively new to the real estate space, there’s a lot of potential to grow alongside, especially for indie brokerages and teams.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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