Putting a Home in Focus

The experience of buying/selling real estate has changed greatly in the last 10-15 years. It wasn’t too long ago that there were only two ways you could find out what homes were for sale. You could read the newspaper. However, newspaper ads had very limited information. Alternatively, you could head down to your local real estate agent’s office where you could learn more about a home. Today, you don’t have to leave your home or even buy a newspaper to find out in-depth information on every home for sale in your town and beyond. You can even search for a new home on your smart phone. All you need is an internet connection or an app. In fact, today over 90% of all buyers use the internet to search for real estate. From Realtor.com to PruAdvantageRE.com there are literally thousands of websites which can give you quick access to detailed information about a property which often even includes satellite images of the property’s location.

Aside from all the statistical information, the one thing buyers spend a lot of time staring at is the pictures of your home. When selling a home the photos your real estate agent puts on the listing are your best chance of making a good first impression with a buyer. In fact, a study recently published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics found that homes listed for sale without photos sell for 3.9% less than homes listed with at least one photo.  While buyers will quickly skip over listings without them, simply having photos is not enough.  Having high quality photos of your home will set your listing apart from others and attract more buyers to your property which will result in a faster sale. The Wall Street Journal reported in a recent article that “listings with nicer photos gain anywhere between $934 and $116,076 [in sale price.]” A national real estate brokerage firm went so far as to conduct a study examining the difference between listings whose photos were shot with a DSLR camera and those with photos shot using a standard digital camera.

Here’s what they found:

  • Only 15.4% of homes in the data set (homes from the Boston area MLS and Seattle area MLS) were marketed using professional photography
  •  The majority of listings, 80.9%, were photographed using point-n-shoot photography
  • The remaining 0.7% used just a camera phone

Homes shot with a DSLR camera:

  • Receive an average of 61% more views than their peers across all price tiers.
  • Have a 47% higher asking price per square foot.
  • Have an increased likelihood of selling when the home is priced above $300,000.

Clearly high quality listing photographs give a property a huge advantage over competitors with lesser pictures. Here are a few tips that will help your property look its best not only in photos but also in person!

  1. Work with your Realtor to stage the interior of your home. The surprisingly simple acts of re-arranging your furniture and accessories along with de-cluttering and some depersonalization can work wonders in generating buyer appeal.
  2. Don’t forget to stage the exterior of your home as well. Make sure your yard is nicely landscaped and that your home looks good as well. Address any peeling paint and power wash the exterior as necessary. The photo of the front of your home is often the first one a buyer will see.
  3. If your real estate agent shows up and starts taking photos with a cell phone or point & shoot camera for use in MLS you’re working with the wrong agent.

High end digital photography can mean more money for sellers but what does it mean for buyers?  Simply put, buyers must learn to properly recognize and interpret digital photography. Otherwise, buyers will find themselves frequently disappointed when comparing photos to the actual home.   Most professional real estate photographers liberally use super wide angle lenses for interior photography and even sometimes exterior photos as well.  While these lenses allow a photographer to capture a wider view of the room giving a potential buyer a greater feel for the space, the lens also naturally distorts depth perception.  In the hands of a less skilled photographer, the distortion caused by a super wide angle lens is often multiplied resulting in a room that looks significantly larger in the photo than it does in person.  Poorly shot photos often have other distortions like curved lines that should be straight like the edge of a wall for example.  Real estate photography is still a relatively young industry and currently there are far more bad practitioners than there are good.  Knowing how to recognize distorted  photos and set a proper expectation for the house based on that will lead to less disappointment at showing appointments.

About the Author

Michael Cohen is a Realtor with Prudential Advantage Real Estate located in the heart of Needham Center. Based on his high level of performance, Michael was named to the Prudential Honor Society in both 2010 and 2011. Michael has been certified as a Fine Homes Specialistby Prudential Real Estate and as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist by the National Association of Realtors. Michael leverages his knowledge of technology to provide an outstanding home buying/selling experience for his clients. He is a Parent Talk member, father of a 2 year old boy, and a resident of Needham.
photo credit: FloridaSunSales via photopin cc
photo credit: vicki moore via photopin cc

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