Come gather 'round ye flippers, agents, and management companies, because I'm about to share pearls of digital marketing wisdom that somehow about 50% of you consistently get wrong. This tactic:
- Is low-cost.
- Really doesn't take much time.
- Can be done with a smartphone.
Yet, residential real estate professionals of every stripe seem to discount its importance. No, it's not "send out a weekly email newsletter" or "put lots of selfies on your Instagram." (Seriously, please do not do that. We don't need to see where you and your car had brunch.)
Include photos of every noteworthy property feature in the listing.
Seriously; that's the whole tip.
It is shocking how many home flippers will put $80,000 of rehab and upgrades into a property, but will then somehow forget to post any photos in the listing to showcase what they did. And listing agents are no better. I have seen listings for $425,000 where the one and only photo was of the front door knocker. How? Why?
If the property has three bedrooms, include photos of all three bedrooms. If you just installed a tile shower with a rain showerhead combo, get your phone camera all up in that poorly lit little space and figure out how to get a nice shot that shows the tile, the showerhead, and the beer shelf, if it exists. Even the smallest details, if they matter to you, will matter to potential buyers as well.
With that in mind, here are the nine things you absolutely must include in property photos:
1. All bedrooms
Because people may actually make a buying decision based on bedroom placement, the photos you take of these rooms deserve a little extra thought. If one is on the entry level and two are on the upper floor, show how the entry-level bedroom is accessed from inside and out. If two upstairs bedrooms share a bathroom, show that. Do your best to give a truly accurate representation of the size, since people often plan on bringing their beds and dressers in the move. And above all…show the closets!
2. All bathrooms, including any special features
Rain shower, jetted tub, double sinks, built-in vanity, skylights -- every special feature of a bathroom is important to include. But it's also important to give an accurate visual of how much space is available. Not just how big the bathroom is but how much counter and cabinet space there is and how big the shower is.
3. Flooring throughout the unit
Living in Florida and looking at lots of properties, you hear a common refrain of listing agents apologizing for carpet. As in, "I know the published photos showed gorgeous terrazzo tile, but the entire upper floor is actually wall-to-wall shag from the 1970s."
Why make everyone go through the disappointing unveil? I assume it's the same with super-slippery flooring in rainy climates, or cold hardwood in snowy places. Some people will care; some will not. No matter what you've got, it saves time and apologies to accurately represent all the important surfaces in the published photos.
4. Everything on the entry level/ground level
This is an important variable for families with stroller-age children or limited-mobility elderly relatives. Needing to go up a flight of stairs to get to the main living space can be a deal-breaker. Two flights to get to the bedrooms definitely is. Hence the perennial popularity of ranch homes, where everything is on one story. But a lot of people prefer a two-story home, for privacy and noise management, as long as they can make it work for the kiddos and the shaky stair-climbers. They want to know how feasible that is…and they'll be looking at the pictures to figure it out.
5. The home's entrance
This isn't just about "curb appeal," although, yes, that's important. The thought that you might be hiding what the house looks like from the street makes online browsers rightfully nervous. Don't do it unless it really is a weak point. Showing this aspect also has to do with allowing potential buyers to gauge extra costs. If the only thing you've done in the front yard is put in a concrete walkway and a concrete step up to the front door, they'll have an immediate home improvement project -- or multiple -- to tackle upon move-in.
6. The home's exterior -- from multiple angles
One place I looked at recently had beautiful exterior photos, but then the Google street view image showed that the exterior was covered in graffiti. Agh! Hard pass! But in most cases, there's just a flattering view of the building and then a not-so-flattering view. Let people see both, to manage both their expectations and their cynicism.
7. Laundry facilities
If you have a washer/dryer in the unit, it's just good sense to show them. Everyone wants this feature, and a lot of people won't read through the listing to make sure they're in the unit. If, even better, the washer/dryer are energy efficient, premium brand, or new enough to be under manufacturer warranty, make sure and get a nice photo that you can support with the extra detail about why this coveted appliance set is better than basic.
8. Kitchen appliances
Since this is one room in the house where appliances and extras can make all the difference to potential buyers (or renters), take multiple photos of the kitchen that show its best features. Note that everyone has their priorities in a kitchen, and that they vary. Some people feel like a trash compactor denotes luxury, and others prefer to compost or recycle their trash. Some think a butcher block kitchen island is a status symbol; some prefer rare granite. You can't guess what people will fall in love with, but you can show them the options.
9. Yard space
Something I always consider a red flag in listings is when the agent has posted several extreme close-up photos of the home's exterior -- so close you can actually count the window panes -- but nothing that shows the actual lot. Seriously, even if the backyard is patchy grass and dirt leading out to a ditch, people will want to know, so that they can both see how much space they have to work with and know how big their landscaping budget ultimately will need to be.
More photos. Clear photos. Not expensive photos.
Rule of thumb: If people browsing don't see a photograph of a room or feature, they're going to assume one of two things:
- It looks terrible.
- It doesn't exist.
Don't wait till the showing to explain things, when you can easily do it through a few medium-resolution images. Even if your contractor is an artist and your listings are poetry, we live in a visual, short-attention-span society. So put your smart phone to work, and show potential buyers why your property is worth three decades of their salary.