Pictures are a must for any respectable home seller. But if you want to get your house sold quicker than the one down the block, quality trumps quantity.
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In this world of short attention spans, most people make a decision on whether or not to look at a home based on the pictures they find online. In the past throwing up a ton of pictures was all that was necessary, but these days not only do you have to take aesthetically pleasing photographs but you have to tag them right so buyers can find your property online.
“Sellers and real estate agents need to be strategic about the photos they use to market the home,” says Doug Breaker, chief executive and president of HomeFinder.com. “Photos are a crucial element when marketing a home to sell, and play a significant role in the digital home search.”
Before you start shooting photos of your home or hire a professional to do it for you, you have to get it photo shoot ready. That means cleaning up, decluttering and getting rid of any personal belongings that could turn off would-be buyers. The type of shots you take will also matter. For instance Frank Duffy, owner of Duffy Realty of Atlanta, says you want to capture what you love about your home whether it’s a kitchen window that looks out onto your garden or a breathtaking master bedroom instead of just taking pictures of every room in the house. “I always tell people to take photos of the property where they spend the most time in the home,” says Duffy. So if that means sitting at your dining room table then take a few photographs from that vantage point, he says.
Another big no no according to experts: photographing an empty home. If your home is void of furniture Breaker says it may be worthwhile to spend the extra money to use a home staging service. You want potential buyers to be able to envision how the home looks furnished instead of leaving it up to their imagination. In addition to using photographs to showcase your home online, experts say if possible include the floor plans and a slide show to capture the selling points of the house. Brian Balduf, chief executive of VHT Studios the real estate photographers network, says combining digital floor plans with photographs can be a “phenomenal” marketing tool. Another option, one that’s gaining in popularity, is virtual staging. Using software real estate agents can show buyers what different types of furniture and styles will look like inside an empty home.
While a professional photographer will set you back anywhere from around $100 to $500 depending on the size of your house, the investment may be worth it. According to Balduf not only do professional pictures increase the perceived value of the home but it can also sell your house 30% faster than those homes that have poor quality photos online.
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Regardless of who takes your photos, at the end of the day it’s how you tag them that will make all the difference in getting the home sold. Since 90% of all home searches start online you want to make sure potential buyers see your listing and photographs on the first couple of pages of a search query rather than on page ten. One way to do that, says Duffy is to hire a photographer that has a contract with your local multiple listing search or MLS. According to Duffy, by using a photographer that works with MLS you’ll almost guarantee your listing is high up in search queries.
Proper tagging of your photo can go a long way in having your home found by buyers. At the bare minimum you want to name your images by your address including city, state and zip code and which room it is, says Balduf. For instance if you are uploading a picture of your kitchen you would name it 350SmithStreetNewyork10001kitchen. That way if someone is searching for homes in your zip code or city they will come up sooner than those that don’t have any identifying tags. “Most people don’t name photographs much less tag what’s in the picture,” says Balduf. “It’s such a simple and powerful way to get your home exposure and get to the top of house searches.”