For many people, their house is their most expensive investment. When you want to sell this precious investment, it is only natural to expect to get more money than what you paid for it some years before. The profit can be re-invested it into anything you want–whether it be a different house, an RV to travel the country, or to settle your estate.
Wouldn’t you expect one should treat this house investment wisely– such as making needed repairs, keeping the grass mowed, the trees trimmed, and the inside neat and clean? Even if you slip a bit, when you put your house on the market, wouldn’t you take the time to do the necessary repairs and maintenance?
When you sell a car, don’t you take it to the car wash, vacuum out the interior, change the oil (and perhaps the tires), and present it in its best condition? A shiny exterior car is perceived to have more value. A well-staged house is also perceived to have more value.
I took a look at some real estate listing photos from another multiple listing service not in my area to give you examples of how other listing photos can skew your judgment of a house. Since more than 90% of buyers start their search online, it is imperative your listing photos be pristine.
Take a look at the “wonkiness” of the room. Perhaps the photographer used a wide-angle, or a fish-eye lens to capture the full size of this room. However, it is difficult to assess the size and scale with this type of lens.
This listed photo shows one rocking chair against the corner. It looks rather lonely. There is no need to take photos from every direction. People want to see the main part of a room and perhaps where it’s located within the house–such as living room, dining room, etc., if it’s not obvious.
In each of these listed photos, the photographer has taken a close-up of something that the realtor or homeowner has deemed worthwhile for a prospective buyer to focus on. Note that these photos have not been altered in any way (not re-sized) from the actual listed photo.
The first photo shows the address, but it also shows some “wonky” brickwork under the light. Normally, one wouldn’t even notice this, but with the close-up, this becomes hard to miss.
The second photo shows the brand name of the appliance, but it’s hard to figure out what appliance this is. And, since appliances can be changed quite easily, is it really that important in a listing photo to show this brand?
The last photo shows a close-up of a large refrigerator without showing you how that refrigerator fits within the rest of the kitchen. Is it really this wide?
There is nothing in a vacant room to focus on. There is no perspective of size and scale and sometimes no idea of the purpose of a room. When a buyer enters a vacant room, any imperfection is magnified because there is nothing else to look at. It could be a poor paint job, an electrical outlet in the middle of the floor, or dirty windows. Most minor imperfections will be diminished if the rooms were staged. A home stager will demonstrate a room’s purpose or show why that floor outlet is an advantage when arranging furniture. Re-painting and window washing can easily be done.
The Goldilocks Test
In listing photos, some rooms may have a lot more furniture and accessories and in other listings, some rooms may have very few pieces of furniture and accessories. What these photos are saying is that the owner finds it difficult to arrange the furniture in a pleasant configuration. What is a pleasant configuration? It is the Goldlilocks test—the amount of furniture and accessories is “just right.”
Furniture should be oriented toward the focal point of the room–whether a fireplace, a built-in, or a spectacular view. It should also be oriented in such a way that people can converse with each other–even if there is a TV. The TV should never be the focal point of a room unless it is a theater room. The accessories should be only the items that are useful or beautiful. Your spoon collection is neither.
Just because you are allowed 25 or 36 photos in your listing, doesn’t mean you should upload that many photos. You want your photos to convey a lifestyle, a comfortable place to live, an upgrade. Please don’t show your dirty laundry, the toilet seat up, an unmade bed, or dark, empty rooms.
There are plenty of professionally-photographed listing photos for you to compare. You will have a positive feeling when looking at a house that is done right (both staged and photographed well) because you will have made an emotional connection to it.
Remember, the listing photos are supposed to entice a prospective buyer to attend an Open House or make a showing appointment. You don’t want your photos to dismiss your house over some minor item. The next house is just a click away.
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