A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
And in today’s digital age, buyers are doing most of their initial home buying research from the comfort of their own homes, long before they’re making appointments to see houses.
Before websites like realtor.com, trulia.com, zillow.com, and other similar property listing websites existed, homebuyers may have driven by a property before making an appointment to tour the inside to make sure that it was in a desirable location. Now, homebuyers don’t even need to leave their couch before they’re crossing properties off of their “must see” list. Typically, these decisions are based solely on the listing pictures that they see online.
If listing photos are so important, then why do so many real estate investors who are trying to sell properties quickly put so little effort into this area?
- Lack of time?
- Lack of knowledge?
- Lack of resources?
Could be one or all of the factors above, who knows?
But if you’re wondering why your properties aren’t selling quickly, then read on and see if it has anything to do with your listing photos.
First, let’s talk about what buyers want to see and the most important rooms to photograph in any house.
Trulia's research shows that visitors spend the majority of the time on their site looking at pictures, but also that just throwing some pictures up on a listing isn’t enough. There are certain elements that homebuyers are looking for.
Here’s what they really want to see:
- 76.6% of buyers say the number of photos is very important. More is better.
- 74.6% of buyers and sellers say the quality/clarity is very important. No fuzzy edges, no blurry shots.
- 82.6% of buyers and sellers say it’s very important that photos show the right areas. You can probably leave out the attic, but you better have some good kitchen shots.
- 84% of buyers and sellers said they would not consider buying a photo-less listing. Don't even waste your time listing it until you have pictures to go along with it.
So where do you start? What makes a good listing picture and what do potential buyers want to see?
THE TOP 5 LISTING PHOTOS BUYERS WANT TO SEE:
Let’s face it, a lot of time is spent in the kitchen and people want to have an idea of what this space feels like before taking the time to visit a potential home. Photograph the kitchen from the angles that make it feel spacious and give it the best light. No one likes a dark kitchen, so getting pictures of this space with good lighting is essential.
Front of the House
Curb appeal is extremely important. Make sure you take your pictures when the grass is cut, the bushes are trimmed, and the flowers are in bloom. However, more importantly, shoot your listing photos in season - don’t have pictures with snow on the ground come spring, and vice versa.
Show off the Master Bedroom by taking your pictures from the corners of the room to show off the room’s size. If you have great windows or an exquisite sitting area, be sure to show it off. Add decorative pillows to the bed to give it an elegant feel.
Anything you can do to make this feel more luxurious should be done. Always, always, always close the toilet lid. Add decorative towels to dress it up or candles and flowers if there’s a soaking tub. Make sure it is clean and free of anything laying around out of place.
This is where a family spends most of their time together, so it’s extremely important that potential buyers get a good feel for this room. Take pictures from corners or from another room, depending on where this room is situated in the house, to give it a more spacious feel. The family room should be warm and inviting and free of clutter and your personal items and pictures. Prospective buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the space.
IMPORTANT DO'S AND DON'TS TO CONSIDER NEXT TIME YOU TAKE LISTING PICTURES
- Declutter - Remove personal belongings and make sure every room is neat so buyers can envision themselves in the house, not your family.
- Stage - There’s not much worse than a cold, bare house. Stage each room to give the house a warm, inviting feel.
- Paint - It doesn’t take long or cost much to paint a room, but a fresh coat of paint really pays off.
- Landscaping - Keep it neat and trimmed.
- Picture Angles - Take pictures from the corners of rooms to give it a more spacious feel and make sure pictures are not crooked.
- Show the view - Got a great view? Show it off!
- Use natural light - Use as much natural light as you can whenever possible.
- Include pets or yourself in pictures - Potential buyer isn’t a dog person and sees a dog in your listing pictures? They’re moving on to the next house.
- Use pictures out of season - Make sure your photos are from the current season.
- Decorate for the holidays - Trying to sell at Christmas? Don’t decorate in greens and reds. If you want to do some decorating, stick to minimal decorations using neutral colors.
- Use dark shots - Don’t include any shots that make the room appear dark.
IS YOUR SMARTPHONE CAMERA GOOD ENOUGH?
Here are some interesting home sales statistics…
- Listings with DSLR photos sell for $3,400 to $11,200 more, relative to their listing prices. - Redfin survey (12/13)
- More homes with DSLR photos sold within 6 months than homes with point and shoot photos. - Redfin survey (12/13)
- More than 80% of home buyers find photos on real estate agents’ websites “very useful.” - NAR study (3/14)
Now, in the time since these statistics were pulled together, there have been some major advances in the camera quality of smartphones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. I would agree that in 2013 and early 2014, your smartphone camera did not capture listing quality images. However, at this point in 2015, I think your smartphone camera is now a more viable option.
This article written by Lisa Bettany, Camera+ and MagiCam co-founder, shows the evolution of the iPhone camera.
Interested in seeing a side-by-side comparison of how an iPhone camera performs against a point and shoot and a DSLR? Business Insider recently put these three to the test to see how they all compare.
This will help you make your decision about the type of camera that you want to use for your listing photos.
If you want to sell your houses fast and aren't doing these things, then it’s time to step up your photo game and get serious about selling houses.
I’d love to hear what other do’s and don’ts you use when snapping your listing photos. Please share by leaving a comment below!