How To Make Your Real Estate Listing Shine With Great Photos

When it comes to attracting the right buyers to a house you intend to sell, a picture is not just worth thousands of words, but dollars.

Before the Internet changed the rules of how the real estate game is played, a “drive by” was the most common way of getting first impression of a house for a potential buyer.

A local agent would come to know about a listing from a local newsletter, another agent or from the seller himself. He would then reach out to buyers likely to be interested and share the address.

Potential buyers would then drive by the property to get a first look. Or the agent will arrange an open house on a specific day agreed upon by the seller.

Because of this, curb appeal mattered a lot more in those days. It was the first glimpse of a property for a potential buyer.

If the first look showed dead grass, rusty nails or peeling paint, the first impression was ruined. It didn’t matter how beautiful the interior might be.

So one of the most important tasks for an agent or seller before going to market was to work on the home’s curb appeal.

But as you know, times have changed. Buyers are busy and they have many listings to take a look at. So an online listing, especially the photos in the online listing, determine the first impression of a house in the mind of a potential buyer.

If the photos aren’t reflecting well on the house, viewers will move on to other listings. As a result, the message conveyed by a house’s online listing has replaced the traditional concept of curb appeal.

That’s not to say curb appeal isn’t important anymore. It is. But the listing photos come first.

Only if a potential buyer is happy with the photos in the listing, or the ones he got by email from the real estate agent, would he decide to give a drive by and look at the curb.

If you want to get the best deal in terms if selling a home, you must do everything you can to make sure your house listing photos are the best they can be.

If your home listing photos failed to excite potential buyers, you can forget about expecting a visit or further interest from them.

In fact, you should put as much effort preparing a house for a real estate listing photoshoot as you would for a private showing, or an open house.

This guide will help you put the best foot forward in order to make a property more appealing.

Preparation For The Photo Shoot

If you have staged your home properly for selling, a lot of your work is already done. You must plan the photo shoot at least a week in advance of taking the pictures and uploading them online.

Make It Neat & Tidy – Before getting started with the real estate photoshoot, you should be spending a good deal of time cleaning, decluttering, organising and removing the stuff that’s not relevant or may cause a bad impression.

Take away the toys, put toilet seats down, put things where they belong and not scattered all over the place etc. All an all, the idea is to make sure that the house looks in great shape.

You’ll have to pay attention to details because a lot of people usually play around with online listing photos. They can zoom in, zoom out and rotate their smartphones to get a better look.

They’ll notice everything because they’ll want to know as much as they can just from the photos and other details in the listing.

Being careless about certain aspects can send a message that you’re not a serious seller, and it may be problematic to deal with you.

Think like a business person. You have a product that is for sale. And you’ll have to present it in the best possible way.

Get The Proper Equipment – High resolution photos that are properly lit are not taken by chance. They are the result of proper preparation and careful effort.

When it’s obvious from the listing that a seller or  agent has taken the photos in a hurry from a smartphone, it’s a big red flag to potential buyers.

Smartphone pictures are probably okay when there’s already some sort of informal connection between a potential buyer and agent/seller, and the buyer is interested in a quick photo of something specific.

But relying solely on smartphone photos and not using high quality pictures (captured by a qualified professional and a great camera) is a huge mistake.

Consider The Context – A house will feel more up-to-date if the photos reflect a sense of local environment. For example, in the summer season, you shouldn’t leave out a sunny photo from your backyard or curb.

Similarly, you can capture a room with fire and warm blanket to create a cozy feel for the winter. When planning for your upcoming photo shoot, also think about the best time for doing so.

For example, you may already have an idea about what times have the least road traffic outside your house, or when is that the house gets great natural sunlight. Pick a suitable time which takes all these factors into account.

Taking Photos

Ensure High Quality – Just adding any kind of photos won’t be enough. If your photos are poorly lit, distorted or blurry, that’s even worse that adding no photos.

Poor photos not only create a negative first impression, but a lasting bad impression.

After they have take a tour of your property, many potential buyers like to view the online listing and photos again.

High-quality photos will keep their interest in the property intact, or even make them visit for another look. While poor images may tarnish the interest they already have in the house.

If taking photos is not something you’re comfortable with or experienced in, check out this guide or consider hiring a professional photographer to capture some high resolution photos of the house.

Most photographers also bring extra lightning and equipment with them to take the best shots possible. Plus, they usually have a habit of tirelessly taking dozens of photos from different angles. So once they are done, you pick the ones you like best and upload along with the listing.

Now I understand that may be more expensive than taking the photos yourself, but consider that you’re competing with a lot of other home listings online. Most of these listings have attractive, high resolution photos, and you don’t want to be left out and ignored.

And if you’re not getting potential buyers in the door, the home could end up sitting a lot longer on the market, before it turns into a stale property instead of a fresh, hot opportunity.

Capture The Basic Stuff – There are some aspects of a house that every buyer expects to get a sense of upfront.

These include curb appeal, a bird’s eye view, front door and entryway. When done right, they can a long way in shaping the tone for rest of the house.

So make sure you get some shots which give a broader view of the whole house. Plus, get rid of cars, threatening signs, barriers or any other objects that might be blocking the view.

The photos should be taken from close enough to make the house obvious without having to highlight with an arrow or drawing a circle around it.

Capture Main Selling Points – When taking photos, do not leave anything that makes your home stand out from other properties. This is not the time to be shy. Show off the special work you got done on something, latest renovations or anything that will make the house more appealing.

For example, you may want to skip the bathroom when taking photos. But if your bathroom was recently updated, make sure to capture and show it on your online listing.

The same goes for the outside view from the inside. If this is one of the house’s benefits, you should definitely be showing it.

Save The Camera Tricks For Another Time – Remember the mirror house common to most carnivals and theme parks. You go in and watch yourself in different shapes and sizes. Well, don’t do that to your home.

For instance, some people try to take pride in their photography expertise by using a fisheye lens. They think that it’ll make their small space appear bigger.

But if often ends up having the opposite impact. The space feels tinier and distorted.

You’re much better off sticking with a traditional lens when taking photos for real estate listing. Making small spaces look larger is about how the space is designed, not camera tricks.

Also take care of your camera’s angle. The house should look level with the frame, not come across as the leaning tower of Pisa.

Exclude Yourself & Your Loved Ones – When taking photos for your online listing, you ought to be focusing on the things that are going to be there after you leave.

You, your family members, and pets do not fit in this criteria. So give a rest to your desire for selfies, taking shots in front of the mirror, or capturing your pets, no matter how cute they are.

It’s better to avoid angles in which your camera’s flash or you are being reflected.

Listing Photos Online

Always List With Photos – Technology has made real estate a lot easier than ever. Today’s agents and potential buyers get all sorts of emails, messages and other notifications when the kind of property they are likely to be interested is up for rent or purchase.

However, with so many listings available online, you only have a few seconds to capture a potential buyer’s attention. When they do a quick online search or check the MLS email, they expect high quality photos too.

It’s extremely frustrating when they click to view the listing and see that it’s incomplete. Not having photos right from the start is the surest way to kill buyer excitement. If you don’t yet have great photos to represent your property, don’t list the property until you do.

You may think of listing a house in a hurry and that you can always add photos later, but the people who couldn’t get a glimpse of your home the first time aren’t likely to come back again. What is lost is lost.

When you choose to add photos later or not have photos at all, you’re not making it easier for agents and buyers to be able to get a sense of your house. It also sends bad impression because it makes you look under-prepared – certainly not a way to create a stunning first impression.

Add A Lot Of Photos – When it comes to adding photos to a real estate listing, most people are at the risk of adding too few, rather than a lot. The more photos you add, the better.

Covering as many parts of your house in a beautiful way can it a lot easier for a potential buyer to get familiar with the home.

A good number of photos is essential not just for the first impression, but also because they are going to help orient potential buyers after the showing.

Once someone has been to a house in person, they are in a better position to relate with the floor plan. So they usually go back to the listing photos get a better sense of how everything is connected. There should be as many photos as to make it easy to do this.


Hitesh Sahni

Hitesh Sahni is a freelance writer, educator, consultant, marketer, and web designer helping people and businesses grow.
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