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A Picture Ain’t Always Worth 1,000 Words.

November 29, 2007

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While recently researching potential properties for some buyer clients of mine, I came across a listing with the above photo attached. Good area, decent price and it seemed to have several of the features my buyers were looking for. Although MLS allows agents to upload 30+ photos for each listing, this was the only photo attached to this listing. Seeing the remnants of snow on the roof , and knowing we hadn’t had any yet this season, I took a look at the listing history of this property. This property has been on the market for 626 days. It originally listed back on March 1, 2006. We probably had some snow back then. Seeing a listing like this iritates me for several reasons:

1) Update your pictures. We all are experiencing longer than average days on the market. If the seasons change during the time your property is listed (much less the friggin’ calendar year!) update your photos! Updating photos keeps the listing fresh and reminds buyers and other agents about your property. Plus, it will earn you points with your sellers. Lets them know you’re doing everything in your power to properly market their home and the only thing left to look at is a possible price reduction. Even if the house looks best in full bloom, add some updated photos from the current season. Keep the full bloom photos in there to let them know what they can look forward to next Spring, but add updated photos as well. Like I said, MLS lets you post a bunch of pictures. If I see a listing with the first picture of the home is obviously taken in early Spring, my first thought is, “This listing is old. I wonder why it hasn’t sold yet? What’s wrong with it?”

2) Take clear photos. With the abundance of excellent affordable digital cameras on the market, there is no excuse for poor-quality photos. Take more photos than you could possibly ever use. The chances of you getting some good ones increase exponentially. Take a class in amateur photography. I think Ritz camera stores sill offer them whether you buy a camera there or not. Practice, practice, practice. Take pictures of your house until you get good at it. It’s digital photography…it doesn’t cost anything to practice! You are a real estate professional. The digital camera is an important tool of your trade. Learn to master this tool and the skill to use it to the point where it becomes your best friend. And keep in mind that crappy 1.0 megapixel camera included in your fancy cell phone won’t cut it.

3) Upload lots of photos. It’s a proven fact that listings with more pictures get viewed more often online. With over 80% of buyers starting their search online, it behooves you to add as many photos as possible. Trust me, I’ve had some listings that didn’t warrant 30+ photos myself! Add pictures of the neighborhood, the local shopping center, the train station, the pretty sign you see when you drive into the town, the nearby park…anything that helps paint the emotional picture of what you want your buyers to feel when they imagine living in your listing. People don’t buy houses, they buy lifestyles.

4) Some agents are overpaid. This is a stereotype that we as real estate professionals are constantly battling. Agents who ask to be compensated roughly $22,500 to market and sell a property and post one singular, blurry, outdated photo to market a listing for 626 days unfortunately help confirm this stereotype.

So, put that digital camera on your Christmas lists or if you have a good one already, make sure you are using it to its fullest potential. We are in the sales business, but we are equally in the marketing business. Pictures are one of the most valuable marketing tools we have at our disposal. Don’t let this opportunity pass by.

Plus, you need to master basic digital pictures ASAP because the next lesson is how to send digital videos to your customers cell phones…and it’s coming much sooner than you think. Say cheese.

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