Published DateWe are a visual society, and pictures sell nearly everything in today's markets. Would you buy anything (kayak, boat, car, bicycle) sight unseen? Clearly not. In fact, on average, homes with high-quality photos are viewed about 60 percent more than those without photos. I'd have to take that a step further and say that low-quality photos are almost as bad as none at all. We know that nearly every single real estate search starts online. It stands to reason that people at home, searching online, are going to be more inclined to view and consider those homes that they can actually "see".
I'm not suggesting that you need to get a professional photographer to have your home digitally captured, but it's not completely out of the question. After working in real estate for a few years, you pick up small tips and tricks that make the most of your client's property. Tucking myself into a closet to capture the entire room, standing on a chair to highlight the flooring and even standing outside a window (in the snow!) for the best angle were all techniques I used to get the job done. There is the proverbial "line" that one needs to be aware of, though. Misrepresentation is not only unethical, it is going to come back and bite you at some point.
Having the right graphic editing software can be a very powerful tool and, if you spend the time learning it, can make your job easier and your pictures better represent the home. The trick is not to go too far. Removing power lines, holes in the walls or even stained carpets are all possible, but the buyers will eventually see the "real" property and your credibility will have just taken a nose dive. I think it is tolerable to brighten rooms and maybe even "green-up" the grass a bit, but those tweaks are harmless and even plausible in the eyes of the buyer. I've even seen an agent remove a few remnants of snow from a seller's front lawn (with software, not a shovel) in order to show the property in "summer" mode.
YouTube is the No. 2 search engine in the world. There is a reason Google purchased YouTube a few months ago. They saw the writing on the wall and realized video is going to be critically important to our online experience. It is hard to visit any major news website today and not have the option to get the latest story via video. It is faster, offers more information more efficiently and combines the data with visual backup. Real estate is no different and video offers a fantastic way to show your home.
You are not in Hollywood so, chances are, you are not an accomplished movie director. Don't sweat it. If your video includes well-lit rooms, highlights the best features of the house and provides the audience with all the information they might need to make an informed decision, you have succeeded. Steadily walking through the home describing the details of each room is all there is to it. With some practice and some good notes, you'll hit all the highlights and won't trip over the bottom step! Just remember to be informative, skip the bathrooms and closets and be sure to do a walk-around of the outside as well.
There is really no magic formula to these photos or videos. I tell my sellers to picture themselves searching online and imagine what information they wish they had about a potential home. The buyers have already filtered their search down by price range, beds, baths, square feet and lot size. They are now looking to you to provide them with the experience of living in that home through pictures and video. Capture the view, the spacious back yard, the master bedroom, the full basement and don't forget about the shed and the garage. In today's world of high-speed Internet and online data transfer, more is always better. Make sure your agent has all of these files at their disposal in case the buyers want copies of their own.
In general, lighting, lack of clutter and depth of view (room space) are your top considerations for photos and video. One of our agents at Badger Realty uses a shop light from her basement to light rooms on cloudy days. This makes the photos pop with detail and makes the video able to highlight flooring and wall colors. You've heard me blab on about clutter, but in this case you can simply hide it all in the other room or in a cabinet until you are done. Once the photo/video shoot is over you can have your "stuff" back where it was.
To save time, I like to do a dry run through the house to make sure that every room is ready to go. Lights are on, curtains are open, shop light is set up (if needed) and each room is in its best condition. This makes the shooting go much smoother and faster. Pick a day when the weather is nice so you can get the outside shots as well.
You (and your agent) have the ability to represent your house in the best way possible. The tools are available and most are even free. The goal is just to get your home to jump off the screen and entice that buyer to actually show up and do a walk-through. With a little time and practice you can turn that picture or video into a "thousand words" or, better yet, thousands of dollars.