Friday, January 13, 2012

Marketing You Home in Pictures

The data we see everyday from the National Association of Realtors always stresses that buyers start their real estate hunt on line. And with that in mind it’s critical that our listings have EXCELLENT photos.  Because—as they say—you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

The thinking is, a photo is worth a thousand words and really good photos can add to the price and value of a home because images sell.  And good photos sell better and faster.

The advertising that we are bombarded with every hour of every day is created by highly paid marketing agencies (ad agencies) and these ads are designed to tempt users of the product or service with the feel, look, and benefit of the advertised product. When it comes to selling a home, however, some sellers aren't as concerned with how their home is pictured.  They don’t realize that bad photos and weak marketing can cause their home to stay on the market longer and actually generate little or no interest.

Because there are plenty of homes for sale, one more home coming on the market can lose it’s identity unless there is something special about it that catches the eye.  With all these homes vying for attention from buyers, it only makes sense to make the marketing scream, "I am a must-see home. I 'm so pretty, I won't last long in this market."  Sell the home in pictures, I say.

Too often, professional quality pictures aren't taken. Instead, a point-and-shoot camera is quickly grabbed and put to work, or worse an assistant with a phone-based camera shoots the pictures so there are photos for the multiple listing.  Just thumb through the listings and you’ll see what I mean.  It’s true some of the quick and easy photos can be nice images, but professionals use pro cameras, lights, and editing tools for a reason. This is about making your home look its best.

As you no doubt know, photos can be deceiving.  That being said, I almost never run a photo that has not been enhanced a little.  Better lighting, adjusted color and cropping all help present the home in it’s best “light”.  But in fact, if your photographs are too heavily touched-up, you might find that potential buyers are turned off or even angry about what they see when they arrive at your home.  A talented photo editor can make the worst flaws in a home just go away, but that kind of editing is almost always misleading to a buyer.

Marketing the home by using photographs that display the strengths and how each room can come to life can help a prospective buyer see himself in the home. Think about model home flyers.  You never see a cluttered kitchen counter in a catalogue, you never see a fridge full of magnets with dozens of photos plastered on the doors, you never see a dirty hand towel hanging from a hook.  The photos that sell best are almost always of depersonalized spaces—ones that buyers can see as their own.  To make these photos, homes need a thorough cleaning and sometimes even a moving of furniture for the photos (we call that staging) to show size and flow.

Non-professional photographers often make the mistake of using harsh bright lighting.  Just turning on the flash is not always the best bet.  Bright flash photography can cause a photo to be “blown out” and doesn't give the home a warm, inviting appeal.  A good photo-editing program will add shadows or brightness as needed—and waiting for an overcast day to take shots will limit the deep shadows and bright highlights on the exterior too.

Most Realtors I know have decent digital cameras. But not everyone knows how to take great photos. If you’re thinking of selling, you can make the photos of your home, and if you are using a Realtor, just supply the photos to him or her to use in the marketing.  But remember, take plenty of photos and pick only the best ones.  And save a set of them for yourself too, once your house is sold these may be the best pictures you’ll have to remember the home.

Dane Hahn is a real estate professional practicing in Englewood, Florida and Stratham, NH.  You can reach him at 941-681-0312 or 603-566-5460 or by email at: 

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