How to Presell a Penthouse with 3D Renderings and Visualization


The Laurel Rittenhouse_Interior Still Rendering_Penthouse Dining Moment

The Brief: 

When it comes to selling the most expensive Penthouse Unit in Philadelphia the Laurel building in Rittenhouse Square comes to mind.  Our client Southern Land approached our 3D visualization and interiors team for assistance to help pre sell the unit before construction began.  We were tasked with creating the most high quality custom 3D renderings and interior design approach that the City of Philadelphia has seen to date.  The clientele was very targeted and specific.  The renderings needed to show emotion and be as architecturally accurate as possible.  The collaboration between our client, interior designers, and 3D rendering team had to be in harmony to pull off the unthinkable.  It was time to presell a 25 million dollar penthouse in Philadelphia without ever walking it or seeing it in real life.

“Selling a home 3 years before it’s completed can be challenge. Providing 3D visualization allows prospective buyers to see the exact home, with the exact finishes of what they’re purchasing before we’ve even broken ground. These visualization tools allow buyers to proceed with the purchasing process with confidence they’re going to love their new residence once it’s completed.”

-Brian Emmons, Development Manager at Southern Land Company

The Laurel Rittenhouse_Interior Still Rendering_Penthouse Living


Creating the right Images for right buyer.

The first step to pre-selling the most expensive condo in Philadelphia was to come up with a persona of who might buy this unit as well as a conceptual interior design package for the soon to be built unit.   We had to create multiple 3D images for what this space might look like and how it could meet the needs of the soon to be buyer.  We needed an interior conceptual package was a road map for the 3D rendering team to complete the high quality images.  As seen below is an example of a mood board we created for one of the renderings in close collaboration with the client to achieve a unique one of a kind design for the Penthouse.  The boards are a first step in selecting furniture, artwork, finishes, architectural elements, and lighting packages to make the space feel as though a buyer can see themselves living within the unit.  The entire purpose of this stage is to create a mood that appeals to multiple buyers.  There is never a way to know if the end buyer will end up staging or designing the space this exact way.  We want to sell emotion, and show enough architectural elements as to the buyer being able to imagine themselves living in the space someday in the future.

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Assembling the 3D Virtual World

Once the sign off was given from the client for the interior design package and multiple mood boards, we started building the virtual world.  Any virtual world that shows context, needs to have the most accurate landscape and scenery to surround that real estate environment.  In the case of the Laurel the view would be from over 500 feet above the City of Philadelphia.  Our ladder didn’t quite reach that high, so we worked with a professional drone photographer to capture the stunning images required to bring this virtual space to life. When we received the images we “stitched” them together in the virtual world, as seen below:Penthouse Pano

As you will notice this image is a complete 360 capture.  You can imagine that the green space on the right, connects with the green space on the left.

Matching the Exterior Environment to the Interior

The exterior drone images raised the standard for the virtual environment so now the interior renderings needed to be as realistic as the outside context.  

It is now time to bring the interior design package to life and this is where all of the pieces come together. The rendering team begins assembling the interior space virtually.  Down to every staged item, architectural element, the space needs to be 3D modeled to 100% quality and accuracy. As with any conceptual idea, the story and emotion needs to be seen through the virtual images.  These renderings have to match the notoriety of the project and sell the story from a virtual world into reality.

One of the advantages of working hand in hand with an interior design team and a rendering team is that the synergy between both produce extremely engaging results.  Being able to draft render a space while sitting next to an interior designer only allows team members to produce the best images possible.  This workflow allows the team to maximize the design for all 3D created visualization assets.

Choosing the right 3D visual assets

What assets do you create for the most expensive real estate project in the city?  This comes to understanding how your potential buyers will be sold.  You want to ask the following questions when considering your digital marketing strategy.

Where on the internet are you selling to potential clients? 

Do you plan on selling to potential buyers in person?

You have to be able to determine how, where, and when you will be listing or meeting with potential buyers. In the case of the Laurel we had to be flexible.  The assets chosen for this project were 3D renderings, a virtual tour, as well as a 3D animation. The client engaged in magazine print, digital ads, media publications,   The still renderings are great for quickly capturing attention, but the virtual tour and animation are the most engaging assets and leave a lasting impression on buyers.  Draw them in with the 3D rendering, and then show them something they can’t forget.

The Laurel Rittenhouse_Interior Still Rendering_Penthouse Bedroom

The Laurel Rittenhouse_Interior Still Rendering_Penthouse Living Moment The Laurel Rittenhouse_Interior Still Rendering_Penthouse Study Moment The Laurel Rittenhouse_Interior Still Rendering_Penthouse Dining Moment


After now capturing the buyer's attention we then show them a virtual tour and animation.  As seen below, this is a virtual tour created prior to construction.  As you've seen with technology such as matterport, you can click from point to point after construction, this pre construction virtual tour allows potential buyers to do the same exact process but much sooner.  Utilizing this technology gives complete 360 views of the space.  Our team goes through a wire-framing process with the client to choose the exact points where we want to show potential buyers.  You can then click from point to point to view the pre construction space.


One thing to keep in mind about your digital assets is that once the virtual environment is built, you can add on additional assets for a an affordable price.  A one off animation can cost anywhere between $7500 to $15,000 as a base.  But if you are also purchasing multiple renderings, floor plans, virtual tour, etc, you can add on an animation as seen below for around $5000.


The 3D animation asset is one our the most engaging ways to pre sell construction.  As stated above, it may make sense when combining multiple products to keep the price affordable.  But it does sell the most emotional experience for potential buyers.  When working with clients we typically work through a storyboarding process in order to lock down the exact scenes.  Once the scenes are chosen, we can then stitch them all together to create a truly engaging experience.  

Once the assets were created we worked hand in hand with their internal marketing team to format the images for web display and distribution.  This is very important when choosing platforms to market the virtual assets on.  Items need to be formatted properly for facebook vs. instagram.  We also needed to format the virtual tour property to align with the current template of the laurel website.  All of these minor formatting tweaks help the virtual images display perfectly across multiple platforms and distribution channels.

In summary, the Laurel was one of our most prominent 3D visualization exercises completed to date by our organization.  You are probably wondering if these images helped bring a buyer to the table?  All we can say is that the client has continued to engage our firm for assistance in additional 3D marketing assets for the tower.  We hope this case study has brought you value and helped you identify how to pre market the most expensive real estate in the world.

About The Author

Brian is the CEO at Designblendz and started the company with a group of friends while attending college nearly 10 years ago. He is passionate about helping others achieve their business goals, including but not limited too, helping others with developing multi-family buildings, mentoring young entrepreneurs getting started in businesss, or speaking in front of audiences to share the latest virtual technology in real estate industry. Brian's holds weekly meetings with staff members to educate them on running a business.