There’s always something to howl about

Obeo, Baby, where have you been all my life? Why should buyers stop at virtually moving in their furniture when they can virtually redecorate — inside and outside — as well?

We are too much misled, surely. Too much miscounseled, misdirected, misinformed. Too many of the people we turn to for advice on selling homes don’t actually sell homes themselves — never have — and, in consequence, too often, they are too much mistaken.

Consider that 2006 was to have been the Year of the Real Estate Video — except it wasn’t. Nor was 2007. And nor, neither, will be 2008. Video is useful for telling stories and for communicating personality. In expert hands it can be an incomparable tool for conveying arcane or abstract ideas. As a real estate marketing tool, it is at best a role-player — and most often — owing to crappy production values and even crappier pre-planning — it serves more as a detriment than a benefit to the marketing of a home.

Good photography, by contrast, is the real estate marketing tool of the millennium. Houses sit still, and what buyers want, more than anything, are scads of detail-rich images that also sit still — so they can examine, repeatedly, every last one of those details.

We will sometimes do video in a role-playing way for our listings, but the second most popular feature on our web sites, after the photographs, is the interactive floorplan. Buyers love to see exactly how their furniture is going to fit into the home — and the more they commit their minds to the home, the more committed they are to buying it. The scientific name for this intricate process is: Salesmanship.

For years now, we have dreamed of an even more fun, more engaging, more interactive tool to put on our sites: Virtual redecorating. Change the paint. Change the flooring. Change the cabinets and countertops. “You almost love this home, folks, and you haven’t even liked anything else. What can you do to make this place your own?” The name for this again? Oh, yes. Salesmanship.

And guess what? It’s here. Obeo, about whom I knew nothing until this morning, has solved the virtual tour problem in a way I not only don’t hate, but actually like. And they have given me virtual redecorating, which I absolutely love.

Here’s my very own kitchen, with almost all of the frou-frou, girly stuff gone:

This rocks, period. I like some things I look at, and I pretty much hate everything else. We’re getting Obeo. This is a category-killer product — even though the virtual tour category is already all but exclusively populated by the undead. Virtual redecorating will sell real estate — the repeated commitment of action upon the home becomes an active resolution to commit to the home — and that’s the only reason for bothering with any of this stuff.

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    12 Comments so far

    1. Tom Nagle January 30th, 2008 4:25 pm

      Hi Greg,

      I have been using Obeo to take photos and virtual tours for years now. Back in the day, photos and virtual tours were all they did…and the quality has always been excellent. In the last year or so they added Space Designer, and now Style Designer has come out.

      We poll our seller clients and our buyers, and they have said that the Obeo stuff factored into their decisions to use us.

      I am surprised that most Realtors and real estate agents still insist on taking photos themselves (actually I not really surprised). In my market, you can have someone take photos and virtual tours for just over $100, and that includes uploading and hosting. For $300 or so you can get everything they sell, including unique domains.

      My real estate business revolves around fixing up properties for clients (everything from cosmetics to systems repair (HVAC, electrical, etc). We pick up the tab and get reimbursed at settlement. I recommend to anyone who has clients who are going to do any work or staging to use pro photographers (like the Obeo folks) to take BEFORE photos as well. You will have the greatest before and after books to show folks in no time.

      The one thing my local Obeo rep doesn’t do is draw floor plans (which is how they create the space designer). So we have our stager make the floor plans up front and then we use to create 2D and 3D floor plans in color, which goes in our digital sales packets and on the web.

      Be good.

    2. Obeoman January 30th, 2008 5:23 pm


      Thank you.

      There is always something to howl about, and at least the choir isn’t howling back here.

      I am glad to see the blog is SFW today so the crew in Salt Lake City can click over and see what all th fuss is about.

      And a special salute to Obeo photographers – without them, their skill and efforts,this company would not exist.

      The StyleDesigner and the SpaceDesigner should keep us in beans, bacon – and better.

      We might even have some leftovers for Odysseus.

      Best Regards,
      Steven Stearns
      Obeo WI Consultant

    3. Don January 30th, 2008 9:39 pm

      Hey Greg, as an agent in the Palmdale, Lancaster area of the Antelope Valley here in California, I have reviewed your post about Obeo had never given a thought about some of the uses or the cost. Particularly the before and after idea. Love it!

      Don Gockel, Realtor, GRI

      To see more infomation about the Palmdale, Lancaster area of the Antelope Valley visit my statistics page at

    4. Max Eydelman January 31st, 2008 6:51 am

      Hi Greg,
      as Tom Nagle pointed out in the first post, Obeo has very spotty coverage for their floorplan service. Since they use traditional CAD technology, their floorplan costs can be prohibitive. Our Picture Plans ( include an unlimited number of photographs as well as the furniture planner functionality at a reasonable cost – the sample above cost the realtor about $85.

      Max Eydelman

    5. Obeoman January 31st, 2008 7:44 am

      Hi Greg and Max-

      Obeo is listening – we are working on a solution even as I type this; details very soon.

      Cost is as cost does: Obeo offers with its products a marketing program that includes effective internet aggregation-around 1 million unique visitors a month to our site, web exports, and stastical tracking for each tour.

      In the meantime, lets all relax for free at La-Z-Boy:

      Steven Stearns

    6. Obeoman January 31st, 2008 10:04 am

      Hi Greg and Max-

      As promised, here is the update:

      We can work with Adobe PDF files to build our SpaceDesigners – we are not limited to architectural CAD files.

      Also, Obeo is currently outlining a plan that will allow for measurement of the home by an outside vendor. There will charges for these services but the value added by a SpaceDesigner is obvious.

      I will provide details as they are available!



    7. Will February 2nd, 2008 5:15 pm

      My only concern about Obeo is that the site is so slow. We use Virtual Tours, As-built floor plans, and video tours currently. Easypano has some excellent solutions (if you can find someone who uses their stuff) for integrating floor plans and virtual tours together. One of our agents used Obeo and everyone (colleagues, clients, and prospects) were concerned (that’s soft speak for complained) about the slow load time. If they could speed it up then maybe people would truly get on board. The idea is there, certainly. Till then I will be using other solutions.

    8. Obeoman February 3rd, 2008 2:44 pm


      A slow load time from any website could be for any number of reasons – in short (pardon the pun) probably not really a relevant apsect of discussing the merits of these products.

      As far as being on board, one million visitors (buyers) a month come to Obeo to look at homes for sale.


    9. Pauline February 3rd, 2008 4:03 pm

      My biggest issue with Obeo is the arrogant postings of Obeoman (is he like SPIDErmAN?). Everywhere I read his postings, they are arrogant and insulting. I can’t do business with someone like that. I hope he owns the company as I would probably terminate him if he were an employee.

    10. Obeoman February 4th, 2008 5:56 pm


      We can agree to disagree.

      I don’t know you or what you do and so, have never been arrogant or insulting to you.

      I wish you only the best in all your personal and professional endeavors.


    11. Hat’s Off to Coldwell Banker Bain February 16th, 2008 1:40 pm

      [...] Greg Swann would totally disagree with me, I believe real estate video will eventually replace or be on par with photography in all real [...]

    12. [...] I wrote about Obeo’s virtual remodeling feature when first I discovered it (they call it Style Designer). As far as I’m concerned, this one feature is a total category killer among virtual tours. Panoramas? Check. Ken Burns zooming tricks? Check. Cheesy music loops ripped-off from CHiPs and Charlie’s Angels? Check. But to give the buyer the ability to re-envision the home — that’s worth talking about. [...]