Sometimes things pop in my head and make me say hmmmm about this industry. Don’t get me wrong I love Reatlors and the real estate industry as a whole, but there are some things that just bug the heck out of me. One of those items: real estate photography.
We are in 2010 people. Wake up, the searching for homes online has won. With more than 85% of homebuyers reporting their search began with the Internet, we know that’s where you need to concentrate a lot of attention. But why do people go there? To be able to parse down the number of listings out there by viewing photos!
The idea for this discussion came from Oyster.com ‘s Hotel “Photo Fakeouts” section. Hotels seem to understand that people make their buying decisions for staying at some far away resort based upon the pictures. They understand putting pretty people in front of the camera, setting high luxury decorations, and the sparing use of color enhancing technologies like HDR enrich the online experience and make someone more interested in staying at their hotel. Guess what? The general manager of the hotel isn’t shooting the pictures, neither is their assistant or the company’s marketing director. They pay professionals to come in and take photos and videos and make sure the hotel is staged perfectly the day of the shoot. Just to be clear I’m not in anyway condoning the hiding of any defects of the home, but there are plenty of ways to make a property really shine. It also gives you an opportunity to suggest to the homeowner to fix problem areas of the house with a set deadline when the photographer comes.
Why as Realtors do we not take the sales of someone’s largest asset as seriously as that? Why is it that a $700,000 house doesn’t have professional photos? (Ok that might have been an extreme example with the smileys and dog, but these are things that just make me go hum…)
In St. Louis if you had a $700,000 listing people would be jumping up and down congratulating you and you wouldn’t think twice about having professional photos taken of it. But then again people in Detroit or other locations in the country might look at $250,000 homes in St. Louis and think the same thing. The truth is that as an industry we all need to do a better job of being professional and giving consumers what they want. As access to listings from the MLS becomes less of an advantage and the ability to protect the precious data goes away we must make the value that Realtors provide come not from data but instead from helping our clients wade the waters of purchasing a home. We must help them make the best decisions possible.
Therefore the next time you take a listing and you consider saving a few bucks, remember that the difference between that house selling or not very well could lie in the quality of the photos that potential buyers could see.