Would You Eat Ugly Dog Food?

Services for Real Estate Pros with JVT Photography & Virtual Tours


Have you ever noticed the care with which consumer product photos are shot?

When you see  a new car ad in a magazine (or on the web), its alway very clean, very shiny and usually positioned to look "fast', even when it's parked. If the subject is a food product; then the lighting is perfect, the lettuce looks crisp, and the bun is JUST the right shade of brown, with the appropriate amount of "shine".

There's a good reason for all this: the Madison Avenue geniuses know what sells--and what doesn't. If you're shopping for a new car, won't a shiny red Ram Charger appeal to you more so than a dusty red Ram Charger? If you're hungry, doesn't the Whopper in the ad look a lot tastier than the actual Whopper you get at BK? Of course it does. SO.....knowing all this, as we Realtors do (or should)...why oh why..do we still see photographs of homes which ad nothing to the appeal of the home..or, even worse; take away from it?

We've all seen them: exterior shots with no regard for lighting or composition...trash cans in plain sight (well, they DO come with the house, right?)..clothes hanging on the line in the back yard (or, the FRONT yard...I won't judge YOUR sellers if you don't judge mine)..cars in the driveway--some on tires..some on blocks...and on and on. Sheesh! WHO'S taking these pictures? Mr. Magoo? Will it KILL you to ask the owner to move the car? Does it really take too much time to put the garbage cans in the back yard?...or to put the toilet lid DOWN before you shoot ("Shoot" as in "Shoot a photo"..for all the 8th graders in the audience.)

I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, yeah, yeah...Photos don't sell a house." OK..you're right. They don't. BUT..you do need to have a buyer actually come IN the house to buy it, right? And, as we all know: the vast majority of Real Estate Buyers go to the internet FIRST...so, you really need to give them a (very) good first impression of the property so that they WANT to come in.

With today's digital camera technology..it's now easier than ever to take ("shoot") quality photos of every impressive feature--in every listed property. Notice that I said "every impressive feature..." This is not intended to mean you need to shoot all of the bathrooms..perhaps just the Master Bath with the Jacuzzi..or only the finished portion of the basement. Use discretion..and use it wisely, Young Luke.

Look at your listed property from a buyer's perspective: "what would appeal to me if I were looking for a house?" The kitchen? Sure. Baths? Absolutely. Extra wide driveway...uh..maybe, maybe not. Remember that internet Shoppers are seeing your listing..and dozens more within a short time period. Make yours the one thay want to "Save" and come back to. Take some extra care (and a little time) composing your exterior photos: center the home in your viewfinder (I actually prefer a shot slightly to one side--it makes the home appear larger). Make sure you have the appropriate amount of lighting (the sun should be behind you)..use a flash indoors or adjust your aperture (if your camera is so equipped) and shutter speed for accurate lighting levels.

When you shoot kitchen photos, make sure the sink is empty and the table is clear. Refrigerator doors should not be a community bulletin board..remove as many items as possible. (Yes. We're all so proud of our lil' Eggbert..he done got a "D" on his spellin' exam..first one in the family to score so high!) Tell your sellers to keep a scrap book instead.

Buyers need to see your home as THEIRS..before they decide to buy it. De-personalize as much as possible. Put away family photos, children's art projects, and your stack of bills. Grampa's teeth soaking in that old jelly jar? Get them out of sight. Your stockings and the "hot water bottle" draped over the shower curtain? Put them away, please. Thank You.

We could spend hours discussing the merits of Home Staging and Presentation..but we won't. Suffice it to say that in this ultra-competetive real estate market, YOUR listings must look better than the others if you want lots of buyers to look at them. Take a minute...move the car out of the driveway...take your lawn sign down...get rid of the trash cans..clear off the counters..make the beds...take the pots off the stove..and shoot a decent picture, for Pete's sake! (or for Betty's sake..or Tom's or whatever your name is). Think of it this way: our Clients are going to pay us perhaps $20,000 (or more) to sell their home..don't we owe them our BEST effort? Presentation is everything. Consider the dog food companies. Do they actually think that DOGS are reading their ads? Do they envision a Pit Bull..sitting on the john... reading a copy of Sports Illustrated and saying" Wow! That bowl of Mighty Dog looks good..I'm gonna get some of that!" Of course not. Purina and all the others know that PEOPLE actually buy dog food (you look surprised)..not their dogs. But Purina also knows that people love their pets..and will only buy pet food which they feel is good for their dog. It has to LOOK tasty because (most) people will never actually taste the dog food themselves. So, they make the picture of the dog food look...good. Good enough to give to their own dog. If it didn't, very few people would buy it. After all, how many consumers would actually buy ugly dog food?


Comments (5)

Brad & Cori Warner
Century21 Clinkenbeard Group - Moore, OK

I think I am going to print your blog and give it to my potential customers. I always use virtual tours, and I am always amazed at how little people prepare their home for potential buyers to see. And I agree that as someone who is acting in the seller's interest, real estate agents need to be pro-active in guiding their clients in this area. Many people just don't get it.

Here are some of the "Suggestions" I have for getting your home ready for a photo shoot or a showing:

No more than two small kitchen appliances. Pick what you can't live with and pack the rest. Clean out your pantry because yes, people will look at it!

Pack up every single book, photograph, trophy, CD, DVD, and souvenier you have. Buyers don't care if you just got back from Disneyland, they want to see the house. As a rule, no more than one piece of art per wall.  

Now that those book cases are empty, move them out. Incidental furniture like bookcases, tables, plant stands, etc just take up real estate, and real estate is what you are trying to sell.

With the exception of the dining room, no more than five pieces of furniture in a room. Leave just enough to let folks know what the room is for, and move out the rest. Keep the room's purpose clear': don't leave  your desk in the formal dining room, or the bedroom. Pack it up for now.

Dress up! you house needs to look its sparkly best; after all its going to be a debutante! Clean glass and mirrors, buy some pretty new towels for the bathrooms and kitchen, some fresh pillows for the couch.  Don't forget the front entry. Buy some bright yellow flowers in a pot to put by the door; yellow invokes buying emotions. Marigolds are cheap.

Kennel yourf pets, or send them off to visit friends. This is a hard one for home owners, but not everyone is going to love your dog. (or cat, or iguana...especially the iguana). Many people are put off of a home if they know pets reside there. A decent sale prices is will worth the cost of kenneling a pet.  Besides, all the strangers running in and out will upset your pet as well as potential buyers.

Guess that's about it. I do think staging is extremely important if you want to get top dollar for the houses you have listed. No one wants to buy a dump....

Brad Warner, Realtor

Century 21 Clinkenbeard Group





Feb 08, 2008 09:48 AM
Lania DeMers
Rocky Mountain Realty Co. - Colorado Springs, CO
Broker, Rocky Mountain Realty Co.

I have seen it time and time again where a client has been in our office looking at listings on the MLS with us and no matter how nice a home might be, they will automatically drop the "No Photo Available" listings in favor of the ones they have seen nice shots of on the net.

Nice photos out sell ugly photos and even ugly photos out sell no photos at all. Great post!


Feb 08, 2008 09:54 AM
John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana
My only comment is fine.  If I could only get the sellers to listen to you or me.
Feb 08, 2008 10:14 AM
Cheryl Waller, MBA
Ocean Capital Lending & Ocean Capital Real Estate Services Group - Vero Beach, FL
Florida REALTOR® & Mortgage Loan Originator

Awesome post. Can you repost to the RTV blog? I just sent you another invite to the group

By the way I LOVE your bio! Had me rolling! I miss that Jersey humor... can't find that anywhere else in the country. (you can take the girl outta Jersey but...)

Feb 19, 2008 03:27 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

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