In this difficult buyers market, when every real estate listing has all the odds stacked against it, and slim chance of selling quickly, it's more important than ever that REALTORS® do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
I was recently reading a blog post by Susie Blackmon about a house that had been on the market over a year. As most of you know, in a buyer's market, having a listing on the market for over a year is not anything out of the ordinary. In the Daytona Beach area, we have over 2 years of inventory on the market right now. It's been that way for a couple of years now... (Hmm... I guess that means that if you have a listing that's priced properly and has been on the market for 2 years, it's almost your turn.)
But in Susie's post, the featured house that had been on the market for over a year, had 3 horrible photos in the MLS. And the house was priced at $1,495,000.00. But the worst part about the 3 horrible photos in the MLS was the fact that it's so easy to correct any problematic photos.
As REALTORS®, we have a responsibility to our clients, to do our best for them. REALTORS® are held to higher standards of practice than real estate agents who are not REALTORS®. Those higher standards of practice are spelled out in our Code of Ethics. But even real estate agents who are not REALTORS®, owe it to their sellers, to do all they can to sell their listings. And in this case, since the photos Susie displayed were found in the MLS, this indicates a high likelihood that the listing agent for that particular piece of real estate was a REALTOR®.
From the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Article 12 states "REALTORS® shall be careful at all times to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public." Ironically, it's the "pictures" of the property in Susie's post that prove that whatever agent had that house listed, was in violation of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
In the Daytona Beach Area Association of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS), we have spaces for 12 photos of every real estate listing. Unless I have a real ugly property listed, (Sorry, but it happens sometimes) I try to fill every space with a good, quality photo of the front of the house, each room in the house, a pretty exterior, and whatever I can find that will cause a potential buyer to want to buy that house, condo, townhouse, commercial building, mobile or manufactured home, or whatever I have listed. With the technology we now have at our fingertips, there's really no excuse to have sub-standard photos on a listing. You don't have to be an expert to make your listing look appealing. Photos can now be edited through personal software, or online. I see so many sub-standard listing photos that I wonder if the agent has been hiding under a rock, while technology passes by, or maybe they were drinking on the job could be the reason for the blur or crooked ones. (I'm joking... I think.) Do you know that today's photo processing programs make it incredibly simple to....
- Straighten crooked or tilted photos
- Brighten any photos that are too dark
- Sharpen or increase the contrast of anything that appears too blurry
- Auto-fix, or allow you to manually brighten or soften colors
- Crop out excess space around the focal point
- Add eye-catching borders
There are many more ways to improve photo quality through software or online programs. But perhaps one of the biggest problems with real estate photos is that the picture was taken with a cheap camera, or even worse, a camera-phone! It's my opinion that if this is your career, a good quality camera is a necessary investment and even a tripod can be purchased for under $25.00 at Sam's Club. The photo is what initially catches the eye of the potential buyer. The photo of the front of the real estate listing is the most imporant photo of all.
Of course, this means the responsibility is not all on the shoulders of the agent. If you're trying to sell a house, condo, townhouse or any other type of real estate, try distancing yourself from your "home", and seeing it through the eyes of your potential buyer."Curb appeal" should be as positive as possible. Serious real estate sellers need to have the house freshly painted, the yard neatly trimmed and landscaped with no debris or overgrown shrubs; driveways and walkways should be pressure washed; windows should be sparkling clean; the entry should be free of cobwebs; leaves should be removed; gutters cleared and anything else that effects the curb appeal should be improved.
Allow me to demonstrate some differences in photos. Here's a photo of one of my listings, as it's viewed in the MLS, on my web site, in blogs, in videos, etc.
And here's how that photo looked before I cropped it and added a border that would make it stand out more.
Since this particular house faces west, I waited until just before sunset to get photos that had the sun hitting the front of the house. The only thing that would help at this point would be to have the seller trim the trees, and move the truck out of the driveway. But since this seller lives elsewhere, I had to work with what I had, which was to have as little of the truck in the picture as possible, and get the best angle, so potential buyers could see the house through the trees.
If you're a real estate seller in the Daytona Beach area, I've sold real estate in every city in east Volusia county. Make a Smart Choice and contact Lisa Hill for all your real estate needs.