What Do Home Buyers Value Most When Looking for a Home Online? By Helana Neumann | Cobourg Photographer | Dave Powers

Enough buyers begin their searches on a digital device these days that the information you present

online about yourself and the properties you represent will be the first impression you make on potential clients.

Which Home Features Are Buyers Looking For?

Although desired home features vary somewhat according to region, type of home, and buyer demographic, there are certain features that are consistently attractive to today’s buyers. Interestingly, though, the importance of those features to searchers is very different depending on whether the home is new or previously owned.

According to the 2013 Profile of Buyer Home Feature Preferences, here are some of the differences in importance to the home searchers surveyed about interior design features:

What Do Buyers Want to See in an Online Property Listing?

Photos.  People want photos.  They also want detailed information about the property—all the information they’ll need to imagine themselves living there, to help them decide if the home is right for them.

The 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports the following responses to questions about the value of web site features:

How Are Mobile Devices Being Used for Online Home Searches?

Mobile devices now play a large role in home searches. Eighty-nine percent of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine, and 68% use a mobile application when doing research on available homes.

According to the joint study by NAR and Google, Digital House Hunt, buyers use mobile devices to:

  • Read general home information
  • Get directions to visit a home
  • Compare prices
  • Compare features
  • Search a listing company’s inventory
  • Call a brokerage

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8 Reasons Professional Real Estate Photography is Important to a Realtor by Lance Selgo | Cobourg Photographer | Dave Powers

1. How many buyers searched the Internet for a home?

In 2006, 80% of home buyers searched the Internet when looking for a home. Four years later, in 2010, the percentage of home buyers that searched the Internet when looking for a home jumped to 89%. Consumers are purchasing and becoming competent with more technology devices such as laptops, iPods, iPads, tablets and smart phones. These consumers are home buyers, and they want to shop online. Their trend is showing us that they recognize how useful technology is and therefore they are going to be better at noticing professional versus point-and-shoot photos.

With all of the competition on the market, it is important to have professional photos because they are your first, and maybe only impression, to the majority of buyers who are searching for homes on the Internet.

1 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
www.realtor.org
 

2. How many more clicks do professional photos receive?

Using professional photos can draw more attention to your listings and result in more clicks by potential buyers. Papilios Real Estate Photography examined listings that used their photos and compared the click rates to listings both in the same MLS area and Zip Code. They found listings that utilized professional photos generated an average 139% increase in clicks compared to similar listings.

Although more clicks do not guarantee a sale, it does mean more potential buyers are viewing your listing. Reaching more buyers with your listing betters your chance of finding the right buyer.

3. What percentage of homes sold were sold with photos from a professional camera vs point-and-shoot?

The Wall Street Journal published a graph to show that in the majority of price brackets, more homes sold that had photos from a professional camera compared to photos taken with a point-and-shoot. A professional camera can affect how a buyer looks at a listing and the benefits can be seen starting in the $300K price point. This data was obtained in bulk and therefore the image data was examined to see if a professional camera was utilized to take the photo. No consideration was taken to determine if a professional photographer was controlling the camera. Most likely if the data represented photos taken by a professional photographer, not just an image taken with a professional camera, the benefits would be even greater.

3 Published in The Wall Street Journal utilizing data presented by Redfin Corp.
blogs.wsj.com/developments/2010/10/04/in-real-estate-a-picture-is-worth-1000-or-more/
 

4. What percentage of active listings use professional photos?

Unique Exposure Photography researched local MLS listings for Dallas, TX and Fort Worth, TX and made note of listings utilizing professional photos and listings that were represented with point-and-shoot photos. Overall, Dallas, TX is more progressive and about half of the local listings are marketed with professional photos. Around 32% of Fort Worth, TX listings are marketed with professional photos. As expected, the higher the listing price, the more likely professional photos are utilized.

If you are listing a home in a higher price bracket, you need to use professional photos to match the rest of your competition. If you are listing in a price bracket with little professional photography being used, take advantage and stick out from the competition by embracing professional photography.

4 Unique Exposure Photography examined 512 active MLS listings in the Dallas, TX area between July 30, 2011 and August 3, 2011. Also examined were 184 active MLS listings in the Fort Worth, TX area between July 30, 2011 and August 3, 2011.
 

5. Make professional photography part of your brand.

As a realtor, you may have to compete with your peers to obtain listings. Professional photography is a great way of improving your marketing portfolio when meeting with potential sellers. If a seller has to choose between a realtor that uses professional photography versus a realtor that uses a point-and-shoot, they are more likely to go with the realtor that uses professional photography. Their home is a big investment and they want it marketed to the best of your ability. Using professional photography, you are solidifying your marketing and showing the seller you mean business.

A lot of real estate business comes from referrals so it is important you give your clients something to talk to their friends and family about. Show your clients you operate professionally and they will bring you more business.

6. Save time and stress, have a professional photographer handle the photos.

Taking photos takes time. As a realtor, you have to drive to the property and go room by room snapping photos. But your work does not stop there. Once you get back to the office you have to pull the images off your camera and place them onto your computer before you can upload them to the MLS. It is easy to get stressed when something goes wrong with your computer and your photos do not download correctly. If you happened to take a blurry photo, you have to decide to discard it or go back to the property to retake the shot. Otherwise you risk posting a photo to the MLS that does not meet your standard of quality and you end up advertising your brand in a poor manner when potential clients view your listing online.

A professional photographer will not only take the photos, but they will re-size them and send them to you over email or through their website. All you need to do is download the image files and upload to the MLS.

7. A professional real estate photographer might be your best all-around marketing teammate.

Ask your real estate photographer if they can help in other areas of marketing so you get the best exposure possible for your listing. Ask if they can help you print brochures or fliers. Having them design and print marketing materials gives you a unique product to represent your listing, allows you to spend your time on something more important and guarantees the photos you paid for are going to be crystal clear on your print materials. Have you ever used a two-sided brochure where one side is a full 8.5” x 11” photo of the property and the other side has smaller photos plus supporting features? Wow your clients – ask your photographer to design your print material.

8. How do you choose a professional real estate photographer?

  • Examine what they offer. Ask them if they are willing to work with you to create additional marketing materials.
  • Develop a relationship. If your photographer is shooting home after home and doesn’t have time to talk, they are more interested in getting paid. Find a photographer that wants to improve your business and is willing to listen to your ideas.
  • Look at their portfolio online and make sure you like the work they have posted.
  • Ask them what they wear. Your photographer is an extension of you and your business and they will be representing you at the property. If the seller is present, make sure your photographer dresses appropriately.
  • Decide what is more important to you. Cheaper up-front cost with inconsistent results, or a little more money up front with consistent, personal service and ultimately a better valued product.

What to avoid when choosing a professional real estate photographer:

  • Inconsistent results. Choosing a big photography company will most likely save you money, but you will not know who is shooting your properties and the results will not be consistent.
  • Distorted architectural features. Homes are built with vertical walls. If wall joints and ceiling joints are curved, the photographer is using a wide-angle lens incorrectly. Make sure all horizontal and vertical lines are straight.
  • Poor compositions. If the photographer is in a hurry, they will make poor composition choices. Your photo should not be of the back of a sofa. Your photographer should take enough time to examine the space and find the best compositions. Using composition correctly, a photographer can omit items from the home such as a dog kennel.
  • Fake “painting” photos. HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a process used to merge multiple photos together to create a great exposure. Although this process can be done correctly, many real estate photographers end up with a product that looks painted and fake. If their photos look painted, cartoon-like or “too good to be true”, you will want to avoid that photographer so buyers are not greeted by a home that does not appear to be like the photos they saw online.

 

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