Trulia are Redfin are well-known search engines used to provide real estate information at a local level for buyers and sellers and others in the real estate industry. I sometimes use these sites to do research on staging trends in the market and to take a look at what competitors are doing. When browsing their site, I am often shocked by some of the photos that I see online.
These type of real estate search engines (others include Roost, Realtor.com, etc.) have so many users in the industry, with users both in the real estate industry and consumers. It’s SO important to have great photos on these sites. The real estate market is competitive nowadays, and it makes the perfect sense to put your best foot forward and attract potential clients through your listing presentations. Not to mention according to National Association of Realtors, now majority of home buyers look for listings online before they set foot in an actual open house. Having a great online listing presentation can mean the difference between a potential buyer taking a second look at your property, or moving on to the next listing. (Just think how you yourself browse shopping sites online.)
Here are some COSTLY mistakes that I have observed:
No photos! NO PHOTOS?! In the age of Internet shopping where we can even buy houses & cars on ebay, Internet shopping is soooo easy. Just point, click, check out and viola! Santa Claus dressed in UPS uniforms arrives at your door in 5 to 7 business days, delivering your every wish. In a 2009 National Association of Realtors study, 90% of buyers now show on the Internet first. The internet has changed buying patterns and has shifted the way real state professionals work. Buyers no longer need to depend on their Realtors to get the latest housing news. They can do so proactively online on sites like Trulia. How can your Realtor be so lazy that didn’t even bother to put a picture up online where 90% of buyers are doing their house hunting? You ARE paying for his/hers services, correct? Shouldn’t he/she put some effort into the presentation to attract as many buyers as possible?!
Bad Picture. Having a poor quality photo up is not better than not having any photos at all. Internet buyers are very used to scanning and skimming pages to get to what they want, since there are usually at least 25 items on each page. If your pictures are not attractive, it is easy to be overlooked. Here are some common mistakes made when including pictures on listings:
The picture itself is crooked, which can be easily corrected by programs like Photoshop. It is human nature to seek for horizontal & vertical lines. If you don’t know how to use it, well, it is time to learn! You want to make money on your equity, you need to do something about it. In this competitive market, sitting on the couch waiting for offers to come in is no longer the case. It’s not a seller’s market anymore. So be proactive!
The photo is blurry. People are going to spend a big chunk of their savings and may even go into debt for this purchase. How would you expect them to come to your open house based on a blurry photo when your competition has posted perfectly clear photos to lure them to their open houses?
The photo is too dark. No one wants to live in a cave except vampires and cavemen. While The Twilight series has brought refreshed attention to the darkside, the trend is not for real estate. Bright and airy sells. That is human nature. We want new things or things that look new. No one wants to buy a drab and old and dark house (unless they are flippers then it’s ‘the older the better’).
The image is too cluttered!Every photo tells a story, correct? Well what does a cluttered photo tell? a) The Realtor is too lazy or Seller is too cheap to hire a stager or didn’t even bother to clean before the photographs were taken. b) Speaking of dirty, a cluttered pic says: this house is not well-maintained. c) If a buyer had a thought bubble over their head — here is what it would say read “Where is the focal point of this room? What is going on here? All I see is a mess. I don’t want to live in a messy house, I want to live in a clean house.” Once the buyer is finished judging your house based on your cluttered photo less than half a second, they will skip to the next clean feeling photo because they can mentally move into that home without imagining removing clutter first. Plus, everyone wants to live in a model home. Have you seen a cluttered one? The first impression counts, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book “Blink.”
The point is: let the Internet be your friend. Let it help you to get those buyers into the door! While staging is an investment you can make as a realtor or seller to get your home sold quickly and for top dollar, cleaning up your photos is a small investment as well.
When I first started posting pics, I really ignored that. I thought, “I have enough to do, I will just throw any old photo on the web.” However, I quickly learned that it can make a BIG difference. We are in a VISUAL industry. Our clients see what we do in plain sight. It’s crucial to have great presentation, especially when the competition is fierce! Five minutes of your time can make a whole lot of difference in the inquiries you will receive on that listing. Don’t let that five minutes cost you a buyer!
Note: Staged4more is an eco-friendly company and we believe in recycling everything, including blogposts. This post is part of a weekly series of refreshed posts we’re calling “Restyled” from our earlier blogging years. This post was originally written in October, 2006 and has been “Restyled” for your reading pleasure. Let us know what you think!
First Photo credit: Image Source