Use Case: Real Estate Buying, Selling, and Investment

I work in real estate. How can I use Canvas?

Awesome! Canvas has already powered tons of projects related to real estate in one form or another. Read on to find out where we've seen the product succeed most, and where you may run into limitations.

So, what do I get from Canvas?

First things first: let's talk about what you get from Canvas. 

On-device, Canvas creates an initial 3D reconstruction of the space, which looks like this:

You can use this 3D model to extract measurements, view from different angles, or share. This is completely free to use and export, and it is available as soon as you hit.

If you upload your model to our Scan To CAD service, it gets reprocessed with more powerful algorithms than we can run on-device, which adds color and enhances the reconstruction:

This is then sent back to your device, where you can also use it to easily measure, review, and share. 

Finally, within 2 business days, you get an editable, simplified CAD model that you can import into major design and architecture tools like SketchUp, AutoCAD, Revit, and more:

Lastly, you can combine multiple scans together into a single global model of a space, like this:

From here, it's up to you to start design! 

You can learn more about Canvas outputs at these links:

If you aren't familiar with working in 3D, don't worry! This is brand new territory for many of our customers, and one of our partners (Tammy Cody at SketchUp For Interior Designers) offers easy, low-cost and online coursework all about how to use SketchUp (a popular 3D design program) with Canvas. We recommend checking out:  I'm totally new to 3D! Do you offer any training in 3D design programs that pair with Canvas?

Learning 3D design does have a bit of a learning curve, but we have seen many customers get up to speed with the basics of SketchUp in only about 1 week.

Can Canvas create virtual tours?

Often, when people from the real estate world reach out with interest in Canvas, they are looking for a product that will create a "virtual tour" — i.e., a photorealistic 3D walkthrough of the space  as-is. It's important to be clear that on its own, Canvas is not a virtual tour product and does not create these photo walkthroughs. 

You can  technically use Canvas to create virtual tours in a couple different ways:

  1. Importing your reprocessed scans (which we'll explain in the next section) into a 3D program or game engine, chaining them together, and creating some sort of experience that takes the user between those scans
  2. Importing the CAD models into a 3D program or game engine, lining up imagery or panoramas (not captured with Canvas) depending on the viewpoint, and walking the user through the model based off of that imagery

Both of these likely require some amount of custom programming and are not out of the box experiences. If you are looking to create an "as-is" virtual tour, then there are usually more efficient (and cheaper) ways to do that with simple photos or panoramas, but this might be a good fit depending on your end goals (specifically, if you're trying to show off a space with changes - which we'll touch on below!).

You can read more about this topic  here

Now, let's talk about where we  do frequently see Canvas deliver a very strong ROI to both homeowners, agents, and investors. 

Fix and Flip, Rehabbing, and Other Real Estate Investment

The most common kind of real estate project we see Canvas deployed on is real estate investment, typically "fix and flip" projects. We usually see investors (or the contractors and property managers that work for them):

  • Scan a house of interest pre-purchase, to help plan out possible renovations and determine the possible value of a property
  • Scan a house post-purchase, prior to any work being done, to plan, price, and design the changes to be made prior to being able to sell or rent the property
  • Scan a house post-purchase, after the main renovations have been done, and use the 3D model to stage the home virtually (so they can list it faster, or simply show multiple possible variations of layout and decoration vs. only one)

In many of these cases, we see Canvas used as a means to either:

  1. Accelerate the work of an architect or designer (i.e., they get a design-ready 3D model to work with and, depending on the project, sometimes don't have to visit the property at all)
  2. Make it more practical for the investor (or their staff) to more easily work on the design themselves

Below is an example of a flip that was virtually planned and staged by Rebecca Zajac at Design By Numbers. First, she scanned the whole home and converted to CAD (below is just one of the rooms, for illustrative purposes):

Next, Rebecca staged the space in SketchUp:

And finally, she created photorealistic renderings of the design to share with the investors and with prospective buyers:

3D Rendering Of Staged Design

3D Rendering Of Staged Design

This example was of the bathroom, but the same steps were used for other key areas of the house that they wanted to show off. 

Overall, we have seen Canvas power projects ranging from a few friends fixing up a property for fun (and looking to save time), all the way to professional, full-time investors looking to operationalize and scale their process for dozens of flips per year.

For real estate buyers and buyers' agents

For buyers, the way we see Canvas used falls into a few categories:

  • Scanning prospective homes pre-purchase to play with ideas for layout and renovation ideas
  • Scanning a home post-purchase to plan, price, or design improvement projects planned for before move-in or shortly after (either to execute independently or share with a professional)
  • Scanning a home post-purchase so the buyer has a fully-measured 3D model for potential future projects

#1 is typically (but not exclusively) done by the buyers' real estate agent — either themselves, a 3D-savvy member of their staff, or a contract resource (sometimes overseas). Most frequently, this is used as a tool in the agents' arsenal to help sell a client on a difficult-to-show home (i.e., weird layout with non-obvious potential, poorly staged, etc.). Depending on the client and budget, this could mean anywhere from scanning and converting a key room (which would usually cost only $29), or scanning multiple whole homes to compare (which varies widely with home size and complexity, and you can learn more about pricing here.). However, we do also see tech-savvier homeowners take this on themselves.

#2 and #3, by contrast, are almost always done by the homeowner (though sometimes the agent might own the hardware and then let their client borrow it for scanning).

Here is an example of a project from Andrew Lynman, a retired architect living in Japan:

In this case, Andrew had just bought his dream home in Japan, but it needed some major love before it really lived up to its potential. This was a particularly crazy house, with lots of unorthodox construction (like a ceiling that was only 20mm thick) and damage from the previous owners, and Canvas allowed Andrew to "skip ahead" to the part he was most excited about: design!

Overall, we tend to see Canvas used most on homes that are at the low end of the price spectrum (as these will usually require more work, and the 3D model is extremely valuable for design and planning) or very high end (as the cost of Scan To CAD is much smaller relative to the commission or budget, and it is used more as a "bonus" for a big client). However, every project is different, and we have processed a very wide variety of homes all over the world. 

For real estate sellers and sellers' agents

For sellers, we typically see Canvas used in the following ways:

  • Scanning a property to plan, price, and design improvements that need to happen before listing
  • Scanning a property to virtually stage possible changes (alternative layouts and styles, renovations, or simply showing the place with nicer stuff, without having to buy it)
  • Scanning a property to provide buyers with a 3D model as a means to stand out, or to help

Here is an example a project that was virtually staged, entirely remotely, to demonstrate alternative uses for an abnormally large garage that may not suit all potential buyers. In this case, the buyers:

1. Scanned the home with Canvas.


2. Used Scan To CAD to convert the scan into a simplified, editable CAD model

3. Sent the CAD files to an interior designer, who used SketchUp to design the space in 3D completely remotely.

4. Received photorealistic 3D renders back from the designer, which they can use to show a potential buyer alternative uses of the garage.

If you are looking for designers or partners that can help with the creation of these 3D visualizations, just reach out to  support@canvas.io. We know a handful of firms that do this kind of work and are happy to provide referrals or coach you on the overall workflow.

For real estate photographers

For real estate photographers, the use case is pretty simple: creating a 3D model or floor plan for a real estate agent or homeowner that asks for them! 

( Note: We do not currently offer 2D floor plans as an official Scan To CAD output, but you can learn more about creating them from the 3D model — and learn more about the availability of a floor plan output — here: I just need a 2D floor plan. Do you produce floor plans?)

Real estate photographers in particular may also be interested in offering scanning or CAD creation as a service in their local area. It's an easy up-sell to roll into existing offerings, and you are totally free to mark up the cost of the scans or charge a separate fee. For more information on becoming an affiliate scanner, reach out to  support@canvas.io

Further Reading:

If you work in real estate, you may also be interested in checking out:

  1. Sample Data - Scan To CAD output generated from real-world projects
  2. Interview with SketchUp - more information on how Canvas is rearranging traditional workflows
  3. What kind of accuracy can I expect from Canvas?
  4. What device should I use with Canvas?
  5. Watch Canvas in action on "This Old House"

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