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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Dollars

Blog by Mike Alleyne | January 19th, 2014

Professional Real Estate Photographer.jpgWhen it comes to selling your house, yes, pictures are truly worth a thousand dollars and more. Don't believe me? Redfin, a well respected Seattle technology driven real estate brokerage, studied this and published the results. In their article, they focused on using DSLR (Digital, Single, Lens, Reflex) cameras versus point and shoot. Redfin's conclusion was that for homes priced between $200,000 and $1,000,000, better photos resulted in a selling price increase differential of $3,400 to $11,200.

Google studied home buying trends throughout 2011 and 2012 and found that more than 90%of home buyers search online. Before internet, the curb appeal of your home was the single biggest selling feature. Today, curb appeal, while still important, takes a backseat to online photos. The first impression a buyer gets of your home is predominantly through online search.

In this era of easy photography, realtors can take out their point and shoot camera, a smartphone, or a tablet and have your home photos done in 5-10 minutes. Snap, Snap, that's that! These quick snap shots are a great tool to the realtor when they return to the office to do the written description of the property. But should they post these point and shoot photos to MLS? I say emphatically "No".

Consider, a buyer doing their real estate purchase research on the internet. Usually they query by area, price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and type of property. In Canada, an online www.realtor.ca (MLS) query will return to that buyer anywhere from 0-500 homes to view. That's pretty stiff competition. The single most important factor to whether an online looky loo clicks for more information on your property is how the listing cover photo compares to the others in the search results.

MLS allows listing realtors a maximum of 20 pictures for each listing. Your agent should work together with a professional photographer to maximize the opportunity that provides. Often that includes using all 20 listing photo spots, sometimes not. For smaller properties, fewer photos often have more impact, as the wow factor can be lost with too many shots of the same room or feature.

The key to great photography is the house looks better in photos than in person. In my experience, that is a good thing as the more buyers viewing your property increases the potential to sell it, and ultimately the price. For example, in one case the professional kitchen photos in an online listing caught the eye of a buyer searching online. When later physically viewing the property, it wasn't the kitchen but the backyard (particularly the apple and pear tree) that really piqued her interest. The backyard was very well featured in the photos, but it was the sounds, smells and "vibe" of the backyard and neighbourhood that she was drawn to. That buyer would never even have seen the backyard if not for the professional photography that drew her there.

The benefit to the professional photos in this case didn't stop there. What was key in keeping this buyer's attention was the professional photos were also included in a handout listing sheet that created an "offline" lasting impression. As she viewed other properties, the handout photos were a permanent reminder of the home that had earlier interested her. She ultimately returned to view the property again, and purchased it.

Sellers do not have to pay for professional photographs. It's part of many realtors' service. The professional photographers I have worked with have a keen eye for charming or elegant interiors, outstanding exteriors and landscaping. They use proper lighting and plan and execute their shots. They make buyers want to live in the homes realtors' feature. To get the best return on what is likely your biggest asset, ensure your realtor is using a professional photographer.