You should see the faces I get from people when I tell them we just bought a 3D printer for our office. Their first question is….”You’re in Real Estate right?” Their second question has been…”You just love to throw away money, don’t you?”. My answer always leaves them shaking their heads. “I bought it to make houses.” That’s when I start to walk away, as they yell “Like life sized ones?”

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The truth of the story is, we have been selling clients new construction homes since the day we started in the real estate in lil’ ole’ Columbia, South Carolina and people haven’t changed. When they walk into a new construction model home, they can look at plans all day long but they never get a spark of emotion from those spider web drawings. To them, it’s just lines on paper. So we set out to help clients understand the home. We wanted to make the new construction buying process different; better; awesome!

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To go back for a minute, I was speaking at the Cape Cod and The Islands Association of REALTORS® and CRS meetings earlier this year in Massachusetts, and while I was sitting in on one of the general sessions, the presenters skyped in some folks from the National Association of REALTORS® technology center, CRT Labs, to tell us about some of their new projects. At the time, they had just bought a 3D printer and were seeing what value 3D printers could bring to real estate. They even mentioned building small replicas for new construction, which got my wheels spinning. So, for the last 8 months, I have been doing research on how I can take 2D prints and turn them into 3D Models. I scoured Facebook groups, blogs, chat rooms, etc. and nobody was really doing it.

Fast forward to today, and we are up and operational with our 3D printer. We now represent 3 local builders: Lady Street Builders, Blue Ribbon Builders and Executive Construction. Basically, this printer has been going non-stop. We are taking builder and client concepts and turning them into real life objects that they can hold, take home and decide if they like where a wall, door, room or bathroom is located. Imagine how powerful that is, especially for people that have trouble visualizing an idea from plans. In the end it may turn out to be a waste of money, but we at The ART of Real Estate are always thinking about how to bring value to our clients and how we can make their experience better. If we decide this idea isn’t going to work after all, at least we’ll know for sure rather than just guessing.

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I often get asked the same questions about the printer so I figured I’d share them with you…

Is it expensive to print things? Not at all. Most print jobs cost less than a $1. The printer however is quite expensive.

Does it take long to print plans?  A painstakingly long amount of time.  It takes on average about 15 hours to print one house plan.

Is it easy to use? Nope. It took a almost two weeks of messing up and reading, and messing up again and reading some more, to get it right and get the system down.

Who makes the 3D plans? We had to contract out the labor. I tried using a program to make them in-house, but we found easier and more helpful to hire it out.

What is your ultimate goal?  I have two: 1) I would love to be able to take a photo of a client’s home and make a smaller version for them as closing gift when they sell their home. 2) I want to make a replica of every home our builders build, so when we meet with people about building a custom home for them, we can pull out the models and show them the different floor plans we have created to see if any fit their needs.

Is it addictive? I equate it to watching a fire burn; you can sit there and watch it all day long. It’s absolutely mesmerizing.