Home Sellers, a picture is worth 1000 words!

Are you selling your home?  Is it currently on the market?  Are you working with a realtor?  If so, then your home is most likely featured on several websites.  Question for you–have you looked at your house online?

Statistics show that over 85% of buyers start their home searches online.  Before they ever even think about contacting a realtor, they’re out there, searching and looking online for homes in neighborhoods they like, in a price range they’re comfortable with, with amenities that they want.  Are they finding your home, Mr. and Mrs. Seller?  And if they are, what are they seeing?

This question comes out of a conversation I had with several other realtors about property photos online.  We were all talking about our frustration when we’re searching our MLS for properties to show our buyer clients.  We enter our clients’ search criteria–price, neighborhood, sq. ft., bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.–and pull up a list of homes that meet the criteria.  We then start looking at individual listings and almost always we find at least one, sometimes more, that have no photo or maybe just 1 or 2 photos.  Arrrgh!!

MLS systems vary from association to association.  The San Antonio Board of Realtors MLS allows us to include up to 25 pictures per listing, and our MLS rules state that every listing must include at least 1 current photo.  That photo must be a true representation of the property.  So, Mr. & Mrs. Seller, why does your property only have 3-4 pictures?

Buyers always like to see photos of the inside of a home, particularly the kitchen, bathroom(s), and living area(s).  So, do your property photos include these rooms?  And how do they look?   Do they look dark and gloomy like this one? 

Is your kitchen counter full of clutter?  Are there dishes and/or food all over them?  How about the TV?  Did your realtor take a picture of the living room with your TV on in living color?  And the bathroom–are there towels on the floor or is your laundry basket visible?    In the words of one of my clients who saw pictures like these–“Ewwwww!!”  At the very least, your home should be neat and tidy for photos, not like this one:

Has your home been on the market for awhile?  You’re not alone!  Most homes for sale are taking longer to find a buyer and when they go under contract, buyers are finding the loan approval process taking longer to complete.  And if a bank sale is involved, even longer!  The point is–if your home and its photos have been out there more than30-45 days, take another look.   As the season is changing, the exterior may be looking different now, hopefully for the better!  Pictures taken when leaves are off the trees and yards/landscape are brown should be refreshed to show your home to best advantage.  And, if your home’s photos were first taken during the holidays when you had a Christmas tree in the living area, change the photo!!  NOW!  Do you really want to make such a bold statement about how long your home has been for sale???  That information is readily available to other realtors, but you don’t have to make it so easy for the public to figure out!

I could go on and on.  The point I’m getting at, for all you sellers out there, is that you need to be aware of how your home is being presented online.  Ask your realtor for a preview of the online photos and comments he/she is going to post.  Look at the pictures with a buyer’s eyes.  If you were looking online at your house, would you be interested in learning more about it? If not, then ask your realtor to make some changes.  Digital photos can be cropped, lightened, enlarged, and tweaked any number of ways these days.  But sometimes, new photos are necessary.  Maybe it was a gray day when those exterior pictures were taken, or maybe you didn’t realize that the room would look so dark, or that your dog was in the way.  Most Realtors are not professional photographers.  We do our best, but we don’t always have the most sophisticated equipment or the skills to figure out the best angles.  But there are some things even a non-professional should know better than to include in property photos–like this picture that has the realtor in the picture taking the picture!  Flash!!

Remember what your mom used to say–You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression!  Be sure your home’s first impression is a good one!